Home » The Singular Cup Holder In My Land Rover Discovery Is Absolutely Horrendous

The Singular Cup Holder In My Land Rover Discovery Is Absolutely Horrendous

New Project

For those of you who were forced to read the new guy’s content last week, you’ll remember that I own a 2001 Land Rover Discovery. Many of you wished me luck, laughed at me, and were excited to read more (I hope). Reader Forest writes:

Growth hack for car bloggers: buy a land rover! The stories write themselves.

Well Forest, you got that right. Except the stories don’t write themselves as I sit here at my desk sipping coffee. I’m back today with not another story, but with a feature on a feature! Yes, believe it or not, the Disco actually has unique equipment.

Besides a leaky sunroof, I do have a cassette player. Want to join me in blasting Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell? I’m kidding for the most part, but today I am going to highlight my absolute favorite terrible feature on my Disco: the cup holder.

Yes, I said cup holder because there’s only one. Well technically there are two, but they must be in use at the same time. About my cup holder? Well, it’s horrendous. It’s actually one of the worst ones I have ever seen in a mass-produced vehicle. I am not counting McLarens, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis that have one stuck in somewhere randomly. Those don’t count. They are performance-oriented, not family oriented. I am referring to vehicles produced for the “general public,” which my Discovery was. For Queen Lizzie’s sake, it was a family vehicle. We need cup holders here in the States! Not sure where my Right-Hand Drive overseas friends put their tea as they drive their Discovery IIs through London, but I cannot imagine it was in the cup holder. Okay, enough yapping. Shall we take a look?

The Good:

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Source: Author

Here’s a look at the HVAC system in my Discovery 2. Do you see that little-tiny cup icon? Let’s zoom in. That’s where the cup holder stays flush within the dashboard when not in use. Oh, and Forest, that Meatloaf offer still stands on the table. I’ll let you pick what side we listen to.

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Source: Author

Look at that! A little cup of an unspecified liquid with a swirly bendy straw! It resembles those old-school plastic ones that used to come in the Cheerios boxes as a prize. How cute of you, Land Rover. Thanks for that little pizazz. However, would you personally dare place an unlidded cup in your Discovery’s shallow cup holder, knowing that it has the body roll of an elephant riding a unicycle? Maybe sipping your Mott’s apple juice out of your pink swirly straw will make you feel better about your Discovery purchase, as you await a tow truck on the side of the interstate.

I haven’t even shown you the actual cup holder yet, but you are probably thinking, “oh come on. It can’t be that bad. This kid’s exaggerating!” Prepare yourself!

The Bad:

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Source: Author

Well folks, here it is! Are you laughing, crying, underwhelmed, searching for Discovery’s on Craigslist, or hoping to place your large McDonald’s soda in it? Look at how shallow it is and take notice of its location: directly below the HVAC system and stereo. In theory, any sized beverage you place in the cup holder will not only eliminate all climate control access, but will also impede your stereo presets. What were you thinking, Land Rover? Even those tiny little water bottles your mom used to pack in your elementary school lunch box would block climate access. Yet Land Rover expected you to put your open-lid beverage, with a giant swirly straw coming out of it, in a shallow small area of your Disco.

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Source: Author

Yikes. I don’t typically use plastic water bottles or eat at fast food restaurants but if I did, I would certainly have the wrong car for this. Take a look at how my obnoxiously large Hydroflask fits in the cup holder (hint, it doesn’t).

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Source: Author

But luckily Land Rover thought of us Hydro Flask owners nearly 25 years ago and included this neat little clip by the passenger’s knee to hang it.

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Source: Author

Or maybe that clip is for wealthy Upper West Side Manhattan wives to hang their Prada or Louis Vitton or whatever fancy bags they would have had in 2001. Either way, my friends at Solihull get some redemption points.

I get it, the year was 1999 when these came out. Cup Holders were hardly an engineering thought; they clearly had to focus on trying to make these last until 50,000 miles. I just find it comical that of all places, they had to place it right there. Fun fact, this was rectified on the 2003 Disco II facelift. Land Rover stuck cup holders on the side of the center console, a clear afterthought. They (the cup holders) are extremely hard to find, are sought after in the Disco community, and sell for nearly $100! That’s crazy.

You might think I’m exaggerating, but give me some credit for rockin’ this 22-year-old thing every day as a commuter college student. It’s older than I am, but I hope you already knew that… P.S. send me your extra swirly straws!

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76 Responses

  1. The 96 Impala had a little recess in the one-time ashtray that was perfectly placed to block access to the radio/cd player (take that land rover owners), but it tilted anything larger than a 12oz soda can back towards the console. Anything quicker than oozing off the line will trip the container off to he shelf (forget about turns). It is one step removed from the 2 circles on the open glovebox door; use only while parked.

    The E9X OTOH, has the little typically complicated German pop-out affairs that will hold a 12oz soda or most fast food cups. The only owner cup that will fit is a Thermos 14oz tumbler, forget about your Yeti mug. My wife has not yet learned to trust that the drink will stay in the holder while underway (it’s only been 7 years). Spill any sugary soda on/into the mechanism and you are pulling the dash apart to extract the whole thing for cleaning.

  2. I’m a Gen X dude. These were pretty common back in the day. And yes, they suck. Don’t fit anything outside of maybe a demitasse and often break.

    I always thought it was a hand wave by engineers tired of being asked for more cup holders and insisting their vehicles aren’t a minivan.

    They weren’t even better than the first cars I had, which had nothing, so I got a sandbag weighted monstrosity that flopped over the transmission tunnel.

  3. You need part number RND490 at Rovers North… It’s what I used on my Disco 1.

    These are genuine Land Rover accessory cup holders which are large, come with a two-piece insert system to accommodate different sized containers, and stay permanently affixed to each side of the center console. You do have to position and precisely drill two holes for the screws that hold them, and the driver’s side one has to be positioned carefully to avoid getting in the way of the parking brake handle, then the passenger one has to be located precisely with that one as a reference so it looks right and lined-up. But a half-hour or so of careful layout and drilling will give you cupholders that really work, and go from one of the worst to one of the best layouts ever.

    The original cupholder on mine was broken when I got it; eventually I just took the remains of the whole unit out (while replacing a bad HVAC fan switch…) and it didn’t even look like anything was missing in the dash.

  4. Those facelifted cup holders are so expensive because us range Rover classic owners buy them to stick them on the side of our transmission. Tunnels. We don’t have any cup holders!
    Well I take that back, later years had even more hilariously bad cup holders. They were in the center console box and you had to flip the lid open in order to use the cup holder and leave the console box open. To make matters.more awesome, those boxes often leax, and a whole mess of Lucas electronics and “computers” live underneath.

    It was….. Not the best idea.

  5. Did Rover Group just like designing non functional cup holders? The ones in the R50 MINI are seemingly decent, but anything placed there will be crushed or spilled when you move the shifter

  6. Reminds me of the cup holders of the 1970s and 80s. Oh, they existing, but hid in plain sight.

    Flip open the random glove box, tip open the rare center console lid, and if you were one of the anointed ones, you would see a roughly 1/4″ deep circular indent in the plastic or metal, which may or may not include a coffee cup image on it.

    Zero lateral support, and unless you were parked somewhere or driving on the straightest, smoothest new highway, it could not be trusted without extreme supervision.

    I still recall my dad getting a coffee on the way to work and either putting it precariously on the dash or asking us to flip open the glove box and place it there while my brother and I enjoyed the donuts that we weren’t supposed to tell mom about.

    Whoever was in front of that cup holder had an unspoken, understood responsibility, and you felt great pride in any heroic saves which fell (no pun intended?) on your watch.

  7. Considering the Discovery I was designed in the 80s when only minivans and big rigs had cup holders and the Discovery II was designed under BMW in the 90s it’s a bit surprising the Disco II has any cup holders.
    It might be worth putting one of those gimbaled holders from a boat somewhere.
    As an aside that hook only works for Johnny come lately Hydro Flasks with the hinged bail. OG Hydro Flask lids have a finger loop.

  8. That whole Era was plagued by bad cupholders, my 99 Buick had a flip out cupholder that broke when grampa still owned it. My current daily is a 01 ranger and the cupholders appear to designed around a standard ceramic coffee cup anything else falls out when start moving. A Chevy and a gmc didn’t even have cupholders.

    1. I know those cup holders at least they didn’t block anything when in use. To make up for it the rear ashtray location was perfect car design.
      I did break one cup holder after 6 years they should have made them stronger.

  9. The cup holder is fine. You know what cup holders were for in the UK in the 90s? They are somewhere to put your drink while you are parked in your car at a tourist attraction eating your picnic in the car, again, because it’s raining.

    No one in the UK in the 90’s was drinking while driving, and drive through coffee wasn’t a thing.

    The hook on the side of the tunnel is for the handle of your bag of takeaway food. Back then no one delivered food, so you’d collect it yourself and in most cars hope it wouldn’t fall over and ruin your carpet.

    European cup holders don’t suck because we’re terrible at design, they suck because we can wait until we park before having a drink. At least we could. Kids these days are picking up drive though coffee and driving one handed which means they have to put their phones down while driving. Unless you’re distracted by two other more important thing you just can’t drive badly enough. Also you’re driving 20 miles between two places where you can make your own coffee and you stop half way to by one you have to drink in your car? Madness. I feel really old now.

  10. my Mk4 Golf had a similar setup. not as small, but would change the radio in first gear (was it first? fifth? sold it 5 years ago, don’t recall) which was frustrating, but not as bad as it ejecting its contents when you did a u turn (which was the way home from T-bell….)

  11. The worst cup holders that I have experienced in my cars (at least the ones that had cupholders that weren’t my crotch) wS in the Ford Contour. They were a little far way, sure. Nice and deep. But they were so immensely wide that your Yeti would have fit. And nothing else did. It was like putting on a beer cozy that was sized up 40 percent. It was so bad that for actually sold a cupholder accessory to fit in these cupholders and hold cups. All in a car that was otherwise a bit small in every dimension.

  12. I see your terrible Disco cupholders and raise you some BMW E39 cupholders. They’re insanely flimsy, almost always broken, don’t actually hold anything worth a damn, block the climate controls when in use, and you punch the cup when shifting.

  13. Cupholders?! When I grew up, we didn’t have cupholders!
    And what’s this talk about little water bottles packed in your elementary school lunch?? Friend, we had Squeeze-it’s, Mondo, Capri Sun and, for the kid easily swayed by Richard Lewis (me. it was me), we had Boku. No one had plain “water”, not even the poor kids.
    You want water? There’s the drinking fountain. Jake Speltz just shoved the entire nozzle in his mouth so let the water run for a bit first.
    Oh! And we used to tie an onion to our belt, which was the style at the time.

  14. Wait a minute. It’s a cup holder, so where’s the photo of it holding a cup?

    A cup holder from the 90s is lousy at holding bottles or drink flasks, things that…well, aren’t exactly sized or shaped anything like cups? Who knew?

    Have you tried it with umbrellas, shoes or puppies?

  15. Sold my 1999 Discovery II v8 a couple of months ago. I do miss it, but I don’t miss the leaky sunroof, the leaking valve gaskets, the leaking AC, the leaking door seals, the leaking transmission or the leaking exhaust. Not to mention the three amigos :-).

    Other than that, an absolute beauty of a car! It’s just that, as a Land Rover owner, you need one car to drive, and then the Landy to keep the local workshops in business.

  16. At least they got the cup holder symbol right.
    Is it just me or is that a crazy straw sticking out of the mug on the emblem?

    Please tell me that little nugget was just a joke doodle by a bored design intern that somehow made it into production.

    Some genius that saw drafts of that cup holder and thought, “you know what would be funny, cause this cup holder sucks”..

    …”this design is insanely stupid. It deserves to be represented with a crazy straw.”

    And they went out like that.

    I’m jealous.

    My cup holder is exactly the same in my daily, disappointing at best. But mine just has PUSH etched out or stamped into the plastic.

        1. I think I like “skewered olive” better than “swirly straw.” Makes us Disco owners a tad bit classier and perhaps you can say, mature?

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