The Discovery was introduced into the United Kingdom in 1989. The company code-named the vehicle "Project Jay", and came close to calling it either "Highlander" or "Prairie Rover" until the decision was made to improve the overall branding strategy, eventually leading to the Land Rover name becoming detached from any specific model (at the launch of the "Defender" name.) The new model was based on the chassis and drivetrain of the more upmarket Range Rover, but with a lower price aimed at a larger market segment and intended to compete with Japanese offerings.
The Discovery was initially available in a three door version, partly to avoid eating into the market of the more expensive Range Rover. The five door became available the following year. Both were fitted with five seats, and an option was made available to have two further seats fitted in the "boot" area at the back of the car. In a move almost unique at the time, Land Rover employed an external consultancy, Conran Design Group in London, to design the interior. The brief was to ignore current car interior design and position the vehicle as a 'lifestyle accessory', a new concept in the late 80's which was enormously influential in automotive design in the years to follow. Discovery's Mk 1 interior incorporated a number of original features, though as with all design projects, many ideas shown on the original interior mock-ups constructed inside a Range Rover bodyshell at Conran's workshops were left on the shelf, such as a custom sunglasses holder built into the centre of the steering wheel (these were pre-airbag days). Despite this the design was unveiled to critical acclaim, and won a British Design Award in 1989.