Big, Bold & Beautiful
Now in it’s fifth generation & after several model updates, the all-new Discovery was launched in 2017. Taking a number of design cues from the smaller Discovery Sport, the latest model sees Land Rover move away from the body-on-frame construction of the Discovery’s predecessors, so there’s now an aluminium monocoque underpinning this car, which makes the Disco a lot lighter.
The Discovery is very much a Jekyll & Hyde car. Due to it’s sheer size & bulk, it looks cumbersome & awkward to drive. The truth is however, that once inside & comfortably seated, it is actually a doddle to drive on road & much more manoeuvrable than you’d expect. Indeed the large amount of glass in the cabin & the flat rear end make it easy to park, that is, if you can find a space large enough to get into. Fun to drive may be pushing it, but as a comfortable practical full seven-seat vehicle, it’s incredibly good at what it does.
The new four-cylinder twin-diesel Ingenium diesel engine the Discovery is up to 480kg lighter than before, although even the lightest model weights in at over 2 tonnes. There’s also a Td6 V6 turbodiesel and an Si6 supercharged V6 petrol.
There are four trim levels to choose from. Entry-level S model is attractively priced if poorly equipped, offering Bluetooth, DAB, cruise control & autonomous emergency braking. Next up is the SE model which adds an 8” SatNav screen, heated electric leather seats, climate control & LED lights. Then comes the HSE, which adds the larger 10″ infotainment system, an upgraded Meridian stereo, Land Rover’s InControl apps, more USB sockets, keyless entry, a power tailgate & the new Discovery’s fully electric folding second & third row seats.
Top of the range & the model I was testing, is the HSE Luxury, with enough kit on board to match-up to sister brand Range Rover’s Sport. On board are a TV, surround camera system, powered gesture tailgate, 21” alloys, 4-zone climate control, electric sunroof, leather steering wheel, Windsor leather seating, seven electric-folding seats, a Meridian 14-speaker sound system & rear seat entertainment
My test car was powered by a 2.0L Sd4 diesel, coupled to an eight-speed auto box, with intelligent stop/start, which I found brilliant to drive. With 240bhp on tap, the Discovery will hit 60 mph in just 8.0 seconds & will go on to reach a top speed of 121mph. The cabin has been bought right up to date & has lost the feel of being in an old fashioned Gentleman’s Club, that characterised the previous model. It’s not as Scandic-Like & bright as the interior inside a Volvo XC90 or an Audi Q7, but nonetheless, it feels modern with deep comfy chairs in the front, loads of leg & headroom & a simple & concise dashboard & button set up that would make even the toughest critic hard pressed to complain.
The colour of my test car’s interior was practical ebony. Everything is finished in top quality plastics & there’s even a dash of dark wood to emphasise the dashboards shape. The mixture of soft leather & quality upholstery finishes this off perfectly.
Shift paddles allow you to take manual control of the gear box, but the auto box is so good & so very relaxing, that these seem surplus to requirements & I didn’t even try these.The Disco’s weight & height mean the body rolls in corners, but nowhere near as much as the previous model. The cabin is also better insulated than before & there is now not much in the way of wind or road entering the cabin.
Off road it’s unbeatable, but due to it’s weight & size when it comes to fuel economy, even though it’s better than before, it’s still not at the races when compared to the likes of Volvos XC90. Emissions are reduced at 189g/km & although the claimed combined fuel economy is 43.5 mpg, I struggled to get anything better than early thirties in my week in the car.
From the outside the Disco is easy to spot, with it’s tall bonnet, large lights, silver front grille, chunky sills, of-set rear number plate, it’s certainly distinctive. Practically it’s fantastic. In seven-seat form the Disco serves up 258 litres of luggage space. I folded seats 6 & 7 flat to the floor which increased the storage area to 1,137 litres, meaning there’s more luggage room on offer than in its main rivals. Drop the second row of seats & a cavernous 2,406 litres, becomes available. Large wardrobe anyone ?
Depending on which trim level you opt for, there are plenty of clever ways to fold the seats, too. With the upgraded infotainment system you can drop the back seats individually using the touchscreen, while there’s also a smartphone app that lets you raise & lower the seats remotely. We used the old fashioned electric buttons which are located on the left of the Discovery’s boot.
As a family of four with a medium sized dog, the Discovery was a welcome change from the small family hatch we run. However, the cost of both owning one – my test model came in at £62,695 – & running one – our five-door Alfa averages 43mpg – would probably put me off owning one. However, if I could fully utilise it’s benefits, like a friend of mine who uses his Discovery to tow a boat on regular trips to & from North Wales, then I have to say the new Discovery would be a serious contender.
The new Discovery now looks & feels more like the rest of the Range Rover/Land Rover family & in the short term completes the range. Sadly, the Defender will shortly be confined to the history books, but with Land Rover now firmly offering luxury cars with off-road capabilities & with these models selling well across all worldwide markets, who can blame them for sticking with what works ?
In truth, I wasn’t expecting to like nor enjoy my week in the Discovery but I did, I really did & I came away realising that this car really does do what it says on the tin, whilst offering an incredibly enjoyable passenger car experience. This is the best Discovery yet & if you are in the market for a luxury SUV, it’s most definitely worth your time.
A Terminator 4/5.