Practical, high-quality, premium transport has always been Land Rover’s offering with its Discovery. Does the new version still hit the mark?
On the road
On the road
With every generation, the Land Rover Discovery has become ever-more plush, advanced, capable and prestigious, so this new version has quite a heritage to live up to. Just as well that Land Rover claims it has “unrivalled capability and technology like no other”. It has also described it as “the most complete all-round SUV package available anywhere today”. Let’s find out.
The car comes as a seven-seater across all trim levels. Under the bonnet lies a range of engine choices; a 340hp petrol motor or, more logically from an efficiency point of view, a choice of two turbodiesels – the 258hp 3.0-litre or, for the first time, a 2.0-litre diesel of 240hp that brings emissions down to 171g/km and offers an official combined figure of 43.5mpg.
The lower-powered engine is £1,300 cheaper than its 3.0-litre sibling, is 18g/km and 4.3mpg better off, and therefore is expected to be by far the most popular model as customers continue to embrace downsizing. However, while the 2.0d Discovery is the most efficient in the range, it can’t match the Volvo XC90 or Audi Q7 for emissions.
All models predictably come with four-wheel drive as standard, including the five-mode Terrain Response 2 system. This complex set-up is able to adjust a range of settings, including gear change characteristics of the standard eight-speed automatic transmission and the throttle sensitivity to suit the conditions.
Also included is All-Terrain Progress Control, which is essentially an off-road cruise control that will maintain the crawl speed set by the driver. As we’ve come to expect from every new Land Rover, off-road capability is enhanced with the latest Discovery, thanks to a 43mm increase in ground clearance and a 200mm increase in wading depth. It all adds up to a car that is incredibly capable off-road.
However, most of these cars will encounter nothing more challenging than a muddy field, so it’s on-road where it needs to perform. The use
of aluminium helps keep weight under control, but the Discovery still tips the scales at more than two tonnes. However, where its predecessor felt every kilogramme of that heft, the new car feels like it has its reduced weight and its heightbetter under control, and although there is still a degree of pitching and rolling, the ride quality is rather pleasant.
The 2.0-litre diesel manages to propel the car with little sign of struggle, and given its price and efficiency advantages is certainly the correct choice unless you need the extra grunt of the bigger diesel for towing. However the 2.0d motor isn’t the most refined powertrain you’ll find in a premium off-roader. The eight-speed automatic is slick, as Jaguar Land Rover transmissions tend to be, and the towing capacity is 3.5t, which Land Rover claims is best in class.
Where Land Rover has traditionally scored well is the plush cabin quality, and the Discovery certainly carries that on. The self-titled command driving position lives up to its name, and the steering is nicely weighted, biased towards the lighter end of the scale in a way that helps reduce the feeling of driving what is a big car. However, visibility isn’t the best, and low-speed manoeuvring takes some attention to work out where obstacles lie, not helped by the overly sensitive parking sensors.
All cars get air-conditioning, Bluetooth, three USB sockets, Isofix points in the five rearmost seats and a powered tailgate, while upgrading to SE trim is required for items including dual-zone climate control, satnav, and front and rear parking sensors. HSE brings the full 10.0-inch touchscreen media system, rather than the 8.0-inch version lower models get, as well as keyless entry, 20-inch alloy wheels rather than the standard 19s and a blind-spot warning system. The top-spec car driven here is HSE Luxury that gets 21-inch wheels, cooled front seats, four-zone climate control and a surround camera.
The new 10.0-inch touchscreen system reduces the button count by a third, according to Land Rover. Somewhat amusingly, the company counts its cabin storage space in iPads, touting the car’s ability to carry five in the hidden centre console, and four mini iPads in the central armrest cubby.
There is masses of space in the middle row, with three people comfortably housed, and Land Rover claims the third row has been designed so a 95th percentile adult can sit comfortably. It’s true there is plenty of space for a pair of grown adults once you get there, especially with the middle row adjusted forward slightly. The bad news is that clambering in is an inelegant process at best thanks to the poor access without the middle row being significantly adjusted out of the way.
Embracing the latest technology, it’s possible to spec the Discovery with the ability to fold the five rear seats up and down using an app, so the car is set for how you want it before you even get to it. The five rear seats can also be dropped and raised electrically from switches in the boot, rather than having to heave seat backs up and down. The car also drops itself by 40mm when parked to make clambering in or out much easier.
Boot space is a huge 1,275 litres with the back two seats folded flat into the boot floor, rising to over 2,400 with five seats folded. Even with all seven seats occupied, there’s 258 litres of space for luggage, which is enough for a couple of bags.
With the handy split tailgate dropped for production reasons with the new model, Land Rover has tried to compensate in the practicality stakes by adding a motorised drop-down flap that serves the purpose of being somewhere to perch when changing out of wellies for the drive home. It’s a touch gimmicky, but some will find it rather useful.
Despite dropping the split tailgate, Land Rover has tried to connect with its heritage by maintaining the offset number plate of the previous car. Unfortunately it’s not the prettiest of arrangements and looks lop-sided without the purpose of being part of a split rear end. The rear three-quarter view is also a touch bulbous thanks to the long overhang, although the rest of the car successfully translates the latest Land Rover style to the big model, with the front looking particularly modern.
Overall, the new Land Rover Discovery ticks all the boxes, in terms of being cleaner, more tech-laden, better to drive – on and off road - and even more practical than its predecessor. Its residual values are peerless in a sector that has other talented models that are significantly more efficient than the latest seven-seat Land Rover, which is its biggest foible. Unless you count the fact that you really have to pay for the premium Land Rover branding with its latest big model; the Disco has a hefty price premium of in excess of £5,000 over the very capable Volvo XC90 or Audi Q7. But that’s not to say it isn’t worth it.
The Discovery name has become established as an iconic brand for Land Rover. It is fast-approaching 30 years old, with the first-generation car (pictured, right) having been launched in 1989.
Series II arrived in 1998 under BMW’s ownership, then Discovery 3 was launched in 2004, by which time the brand was owned by Ford. The outgoing Discovery 4 ran from 2009, two years after Indian firm Tata had taken control of Land Rover and Jaguar.
Launched originally as a three-door, a five-door (pictured) followed in 1990, the models were powered by a four-cylinder petrol engine and five-seat, with the option of two more in the boot. The story goes that the first Discovery raided then-owner Rover Group’s parts bin to the extent that the rear lights came from a Maestro van and bore the Austin Rover logo until the Series II was launched, a decade after Austin Rover disappeared.
The rear-mounted spare wheel disappeared for the Discovery 3 model, although it kept the now-dropped split tailgate arrangement through that generation, and the Discovery 4, which was little more than an update on the third-generation car.
What they said
What they said
“The new Discovery couples best-in-class capability with new levels of versatility to satisfy the demands of a modern business fleet. With weight savings of up to 480kg and the introduction of our Ingenium engine, fuel efficiency, handling and CO2 emissions are improved. The new Discovery satisfies the demands of your business, but also offers your drivers a vehicle that meets their out-of-office demands too.”
fleet & business sales general manager,
Jaguar Land Rover UK
Need to know
Three things we like...
Being able to auto-fold the seats via an optional app, let alone electrically, is a boon
The drop-down tailgate may have gone but at least there’s a fold-down flap to perch on
Front-end design nicely blends old Discovery and latest Land Rover looks
...And one we don't
That lop-sided rear may be a nod to the split tailgate of the past, but really doesn’t work
New 2.0 diesel doesn’t feel like a low-powered option, and though the Discovery handles well, it still feels like a good, but large, 4x4.
This all-new Discovery is a full 22g/km and 6.1mpg off the Volvo XC90 and also well behind the Audi Q7 for efficiency.
Massive thumbs-up for a car that is as capable as they come; it’s able to deal with any task that can be thrown at it. Third-row seat access is the only major complaint.
The Discovery certainly comes loaded with toys, especially at the top end, but you’ll have to pay handsomely for the privilege.
From some angles it’s an elegant reinterpretation of an iconic model, but from the side, the back is a bit bulbous, and that lop-sided rear styling really doesn’t work.
Comfort and refinement 8/10
It’s certainly comfortable to drive, but the 2.0d engine is maybe not as refined as one might expect a luxury off-roader’s to be.
Spacious luxury. Everything a buyer of a £60,000 large SUV should expect. Great material quality and sensible layout.
Jaguar Land Rover’s infotainment system looks good on the big 10in screen, but responsiveness isn’t the best, and our car suffered a complete satnav meltdown.
Whole life costs 8/10
Peerless residuals, but the car’s higher emissions hamper its whole-life costs case.
CCT opinion 9/10
Lovely to drive and spend time in. A successful reincarnation.
The looks aren’t perfect, likewise emissions and rear-seat access, but otherwise the Discovery is better than ever. And the previous version was darned good.