Land Rover goes California cool for Discovery SUV debut

LOS ANGELES -- Land Rover's Discovery, which made its debut in the California sunshine here Friday, is full of the kind of surprises that could put the "sport" back into sport utility vehicle.

The seven-passenger SUV is a tech wonder aimed at upscale people who live fairly active outdoor lifestyles. For instance, it has a wrist device to let drivers play in the surf, sand or other rugged, dirty places and still be able to unlock the vehicle to get the keys they deliberately left inside.

Surfing god Laird Hamilton and his model-athlete wife Gabrielle Reece were on hand to unveil the car and talk about the wrist-device feature at a cool day camp that Land Rover set up in Los Angeles' trendy Venice district.

Hamilton and Reece say they are diehard Land Rover fans, having driven themselves and their three kids in what she describes as a "very old LR3" at their Hawaii home.

"I have the kids. I don't want an 'old lady car," Reece explained. And Hamilton said he likes the "authenticity of the brand," giving Land Rover's heritage and having pioneered SUVs.

Both talked about the ability to surf or lay out on the beach and not having worry about losing or messing up their car keys.

The seven-passenger Discovery, larger than the Discovery Sport unveiled last year, arrived in Venice as the First Edition, a dressed-up, limited-run version of 500 with fancy shiny plastic trim front and back, upscale 22-inch wheels and contrast stitching in the seats. There's also the ability to change the seat configuration via a smartwatch.

The new Discovery First Edition is priced at $73,950 plus $995 in delivery charges. The base price of the Discovery is $49,990.

The camp, set up outdoors and open all weekend to anyone who wanders by, not only shows off the new Discovery, but has lots of other cool tech gear and cutting-edge outdoor products.

For instance, a Chilean named Andreas Roi brought an bicycle that has a seat that detaches, allow its seat post to become the integral part of the bike lock. The Peloton indoor bike is being demonstrated along with a surfboard indoor exercise bike. A surfboard artist, Drew Brophy of San Clemente, Calif., was painting boards with designs of surfing scenes.

The camp is a prelude to the Los Angeles Auto Show next week where Discovery makes its formal U.S. debut.


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