11Land Rover became part of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group in 2000; and with a new Range Rover model ready for production, the priority was to get a new Discovery on to the market. But while the new project’s engineers were poring over the latest Ford Explorer for possible synergies, the company was investing £24 million in a major update.
The obvious external change was a new front end, including a modified grille and bumper with a pocketed lamp cluster inspired by the latest Range Rover. At the rear, the indicators were now incorporated in the main cluster. New-style wheels and thicker roof bars completed the new external look. Indoors, there were new colourways and revised instrument graphics.
Less obvious were changes to the driveline, with the 4.6-litre variant of the V8 being specified for the US market. Diff lock returned to restore off-road ability and the transfer box got a new case and revised gear tooth profile. Refinement was honed with upgrades to body damping, engine induction and chassis body mounts.
There were changes at the back too, with the indicators and reversing lights being re-located. Reversing sensors were now an option.
A new front headlamp cluster and grille were the most visible upgrades to the 2003-model-year Discovery, although the bumper was also new with a revised profile for improved off-road agility.