A Voyage Of Discovery – A Week With Land Rover’s Finest
The Land Rover Discovery has been a familiar sight on our roads since 1989 and their undoubted appeal has been undimmed despite a distinct move upmarket in recent years.
I find it heard to believe that the current generation was revealed in 2016 and was shown to the public at the Paris Motor Show. I was there on the first press day and recall the crowds of journalists, eager to get a look.
The Discovery 4’s boxy shape was eschewed for a softer, more rounded look with clear design influences from the Range Rover Sport.
Despite a more ‘lifestyle’ look, once I managed to get my first drive it was readily apparent the Discovery was as capable as ever, with seating for seven full-sized adults and go-anywhere capability. We were allowed push the 4x4 to its limits off road and it impressed. The ‘Terrain Response’ system ensured that even the most unlikely looking muddy ascents could be tackled with ease.
The intervening years have seen the Discovery updated, with new mild hybrid engines and an updated infotainment system the most significant changes. Excuse, as if one were needed, for me to get behind the wheel once again.
My test car for the week was a high-spec HSE R-Dynamic model, listing at £67,290 before options. I suspect the price will do little to deter would-be buyers who doubtless take advantage of Land Rover’s many finance options.
Under the bonnet sat a 300hp 3.0-litre diesel engine and with plenty of miles to cover during the test period, I was in for a treat. Though diesel’s popularity is undoubtedly waning with each passing year, large 4x4s are best suited to the black stuff. It’s not just the power, in this case enough to propel the Discovery from 0-60mph in just 6.5 seconds, it’s the 650Nm of torque available from just 1,500rpm.
Mated with a typically smooth-shifting automatic gearbox, the merest twitch of your right foot is enough for a brisk overtake and the car’s real-world pace will undoubtedly surprise.
R-Dynamic spec is aimed towards to more overtly sporting and the big Discovery can be hustled along a country lane at quite a pace. Body roll is kept reasonably well in check and the commanding driving position makes it easy to place with a good deal of accuracy.
Less appealing is the R-Dynamic’s low speed ride, which is somewhat on the lumpy side. Blame must lie in part for the standard fit 22-inch alloy wheels. Once above urban speeds, the ride improves and is suitably cosseting.
High speed motorway cruising is a Discovery forte, with wind and road noise noticeable by their absence. A late evening four-hour drive home was accomplished with ease and at journey’s end I could quite happily have continued for many more hours, even though I had experienced the busiest of working days.
At the end of a week which saw over 500 miles covered, the trip computer read a creditable 30.5mpg, close the Land Rover’s official combined economy figures. It was always driven with gusto, so expect to improve on my figures with a little restraint!
The Discovery’s interior is as comfortable and accommodating as ever. Seven supportive seats come as standard and access to the rearmost is better than ever. Normal size adults will fit with ease. Particular praise must go the 20-way heated and cooled electric driver’s seat which remained oh so yielding, yet supportive, even after many, many hours behind the wheel.
Equipment count is suitably comprehensive, though there is still scope to personalise the car to suit. The test car had some options aimed at improving its already impressive off-road credentials. The active rear locking differential (£1,080) will suit the owner who strays far off the beaten track. Doubtless they may find the advanced off road capability pack £685 useful too, as it allows the already excellent Terrain Response system to be even more configurable to suit.
I did take the Discovery off-road briefly on a local track. Dry conditions meant that traction was good, but other than raising the ride height to cope with some of the gnarlier sections, I had no need to trouble the off-road systems. Capable as all Land Rover products undoubtedly are off road.
Praise must also go the latest Pivi Pro infotainment system, a huge leap in usability over its predecessor. Once familiar with its modus operandi, all functions are readily accessible and simple to use.
The Land Rover Discovery is a hard car to fault. We have all got used to the softer, more rounded look, and other than the offset rear number plate, I like it a lot.
Larger families will continue to enjoy the spacious, practical and luxurious interior, whilst the hunting, shooting and fishing set will marvel at the car’s ability to take them even further off the beaten track in safety and comfort.
So, the burning question is would I choose the Discovery over the new Defender? There is no getting away from the fact that Defender is the car of the moment and has been such a success for Land Rover that delivery times stretch way off into the distance. Has the Discovery thus been overshadowed?
In part the answer is yes, but the Discovery is a more luxurious car, is just as capable when the going gets tough and can seat seven adults in a good degree of comfort. Try them both for size would be my advice and your friendly local Land Rover Dealer will surely be pleased to help.
Land Rover Discovery HSE R-Dynamic D300
Price - £67,290
As tested- £73,055
300hp 3.0-litre diesel engine (MHEV)
Maximum torque 650Nm
0-60mph in 6.5 seconds
Top speed 130mph
Combined economy 33.9 to 31.9mpg
Emissions – 218 to 232g/km CO2