Company Car Today

The big test

The most comprehensive
new product test in fleet

Practical, high-quality, premium transport has always been Land Rover’s offering with its Discovery. Does the new version still hit the mark?

New Land Rover Discovery 2017 - Image 30

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. 

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Context

Context

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. 

The Big Test - Land Rover Discovery - In Context - Land Rover Discovery Series 1 - 1989

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.”

Jon Wackett, 

fleet & business sales general manager, 

Jaguar Land Rover UK

Comparatively speaking

Alfa Romeo Giulia, comparatively speaking table

Need to know

Mini Countryman, need to know table

Like/dislike

Three things we like...

The Big Test - Land Rover Discovery - Three things we like - Fold seats can be controlled by mobile phone app
1

Being able to auto-fold the seats via an optional app, let alone electrically, is a boon

The Big Test - Land Rover Discovery - Three things we like - Drop down flap to perch on
2

The drop-down tailgate may have gone but at least there’s a fold-down flap to perch on

New Land Ro er Discovery 2017 - Image 24
3

Front-end design nicely blends old Discovery and latest Land Rover looks

...And one we don't

The Big Test - Land Rover Discovery - And one we don't - That lop-sided rear really doesn’t work
X

That lop-sided rear may be a nod to the split tailgate of the past, but really doesn’t work

Verdict

Verdict

Drive  8/10

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. 

Efficiency  6/10

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. 

Practicality  9/10

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.

Equipment  8/10

The Discovery certainly comes loaded with toys, especially at the top end, but you’ll have to pay handsomely for the privilege.

Looks  7/10

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.   

 

Cabin  9/10

Spacious luxury. Everything a buyer of a £60,000 large SUV should expect. Great material quality and sensible layout.

Infotainment  7/10

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.

VERDICT 79%

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.

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