Land Rover Discovery: road test

Posted on May 24th, 2017 by James Luckhurst

The new Discovery is without doubt one of the very best big 4x4s.

Land Rover Discovery: road test

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What is it?
The new Land Rover Discovery is the fifth generation of this big, practical and versatile 4×4. It’s a rival for the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Volvo XC90.

How safe is it?
The Discovery has scored five stars in Euro NCAP tests. Given that it’s now harder to earn the maximum five stars than ever before, that’s impressive.

Who should buy one?
Anyone wanting off-road capability, space for seven adults to travel in comfort, or looking for a car which combines practicality and luxury.

Road test by Mr David Motton 24 May 2017

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Land Rover Discovery: road test
The old Land Rover Discovery was a hugely capable car, but had started to feel its age next to newer rivals like the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90. The new Discovery builds on the previous model’s strengths while addressing its weaknesses.
Strengths? Even at the end of its life, the old-shape Discovery was far more able in the rough than its slick, Tarmac-biased rivals. The new model is even better, with an increased wading depth of 900mm (some 200mm or around eight inches more than before) and a host of electronic aids to make the most of the tyres’ bite on a slippery surface. Driving the Discovery in swampy conditions asks little of the driver – the car does so much of the work for you.
On the road, the old Discovery didn’t feel as light on its feet as newer SUVs. The latest car weighs a lot less (although it still tips the scales at well over two tonnes), which helps make the new Discovery feel more wieldy. It’s not as sporty to drive as a Range Rover Sport, but it now combines a plush ride with sharper cornering.
There are three engines available. We’ve yet to try the 335bhp Si6 petrol, but with an official combined fuel economy figure of 26mpg, it’s the least likely to find favour with UK customers, even with so much anti-diesel sentiment at the moment.
The 237bhp 2.0 Sd4 is the sensible choice, being the most affordable to buy and to fuel. It’s a higher powered version of the four-cylinder diesel already used in the smaller Discovery Sport, and does a remarkable job of shifting what’s still a very big and hefty car.
However, with a price premium of just £1,500, it’s the 254bhp Td6 which we’d spend our money on. The difference in power may be modest, but the six-cylinder engine has another 74lb ft of torque. It steps away from standstill more sharply and is smoother and more refined than the Sd4.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Land Rover Discovery: road test

Again, Land Rover has upped its game. The standard of finish is now much closer to a Range Rover’s, without sacrificing the old Discovery’s practicality. There’s still space for seven, but instead of clambering around inside, grabbing levers and pushing and pulling at seats, on high-spec versions raising and lowering the seats is done at the push of a button, either at the tailgate or from the driver’s seat using the touchscreen. The seats can even be controlled from a smartphone via an app. However, we can’t help wondering about the cost of fixing the powered seats if they failed outside the warranty period.
There’s lots of space up front and in the middle of the car, and the third row can comfortably be used by adults – something that can’t always be said of the Discovery’s rivals. With all seats upright there’s just 258 litres of space, jumping to 2406 litres with all but two seats folded.

SAFETY
Land Rover Discovery: road test

The Discovery has earned a five-star rating from Euro NCAP. All versions have eight airbags as standard, lane departure warning system, autonomous emergency braking and at least four Isofix child seat mounting points. A system which warns the driver if there’s another vehicle in the blind spot is standard on HSE and HSE Luxury specifications, as is a rear-view camera. All-round visibility is good.

EQUIPMENT
Land Rover Discovery: road test
The Discovery has earned a five-star rating from Euro NCAP. All versions have eight airbags as standard, lane departure warning system, autonomous emergency braking and at least four Isofix child seat mounting points. A system which warns the driver if there’s another vehicle in the blind spot is standard on HSE and HSE Luxury specifications, as is a rear-view camera. All-round visibility is good.

COSTS

Land Rover Discovery: road test

The new Discovery range starts from £43,995. That’s almost £5,000 less than the entry-level Volvo XC90. Fuel economy is much improved compared with the old car’s, with the Sd4 achieving 43.5mpg on the combined cycle (the Td6 achieves 39.2mpg). However, that’s still beaten by the equivalent Audi or Volvo. Resale values are expected to be very strong, however, so the Land Rover should be a good long-term purchase.

WE SAY The new Discovery is without doubt one of the very best big 4x4s.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £58,495
Performance: 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds
Economy: 39.2mpg combined
Insurance: 41E
Tax: £800 first year, then £140 standard, plus £310 surcharge for five years

Figures for the Td6 HSE