Land Rover Discovery: car review
Subtle tweaks simply make an exceptional all-rounder even better
What is it?
A newly-upgraded version of the now familiar 4×4, featuring a new look, new badging, new audio systems and better economy, as well as a host of more familiar attributes.
How safe is it?
Hill Descent Control is standard on all models. There are big curtain airbags as well as the usual front and side protection. The Discovery was awarded five stars from Euro NCAP.
Who should buy one?
If money’s no object and you’re looking for something big, luxurious, flexible, multi-skilled and fantastic to drive (on the road or off it), then the Discovery is for you.
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
It’s hard to believe that the Discovery in present form celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2014. An amazingly capable car both on the road and off it, the Discovery now boasts updated styling, reduced emissions and better fuel economy.
There are three models in the Discovery Range, each making good use of the 3.0-litre diesel engine that has had its fuel emissions reduced from 230 to 213g/km and its fuel economy boosted from 32.1 to 35.3mpg.
Climb into the driver’s seat and you’ll appreciate just how refined and classy the Discovery really is. All-round visibility is excellent and there’s not a whisper of unwanted noise, either from the engine or the road.
We did most of our test-driving with the car full of people and/or stuff, and most of the time chose to resist any urge to work the engine hard. That’s because we wanted to make good use of every drop of diesel in the tank. There were a couple of occasions where we stowed awasy our preferred ‘easy on, easy off’ style, just to see what the Discovery was capable of. Moments later, we were left wondering how something this big and this heavy could be this punchy. If performance is your priority, then the Discovery will not disappoint.
Let’s be honest, though. Most of us, Discovery owners included, are looking for a more economical engine and lower day-to-day costs, rather than 0 to 60 in just over 8 seconds. Hence the arrival of a top-notch eight-speed automatic gearbox, with stop-start technology built in, too. Smooth progress through the gears was impressive, with next to no drop in revs on the way up (combined with gear changes you’d be hard pressed even to notice) adding to a particularly smooth ride.
This was a great car to drive. Our fortnight with it brought record rainfall, frequent floods and some appalling driving conditions. But the Discovery inspired confidence, proved itself supremely capable and enjoyable to drive, on any road surface.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Top marks for practicality, as you might expect from a big, capable all-rounder that feels at home in any road (or off-road) environment. We put the third row of seats to good use, and received no complaints from our grown-up guests about being squeezed in, even after one two-hour journey.
Inevitably you lose boot space by putting all seven seats to good use, but once you take the passengers out, you can create a lot of space for your luggage. Drop the third row of seats and the boot’s big. Flatten the second row as well and it feels you could fit a Freelander into the space.Better still, there’s no requirement for any fiddling with the head restraints. The seats go flat quite easily.
Junior members of our party loved getting into and out of the rear seats using the split tailgate, another very practical feature that served us well as a good, firm seat.
The new range of driver assistance, comfort and safety features for the 2014 Discovery will mean taking it into tight car parks is a breeze. These include Blind Spot Monitoring, Closing Vehicle Sensing, Reverse Traffic Detection and T-junction Cameras. All proved user-friendly. There’s also an ingenious ‘Wade Sensor’ which detects the depth of water you might be heading into and gives you warnings via the satnav screen.
For 2014, Discovery has been given a new ‘face’ and numerous exterior changes. A new front grille, new front bumper, new headlamp design, new daytime running lights with LED signature, plus two new alloy wheel designs, further enhance its appearance. To give vehicles a heightened level of distinction, the optional ‘Black Design Pack’ remains available for 2014 models, with revised detailing, plus 20-inch black alloys.
There are four versions of the Discovery available; the 3.0-litre diesel engine is found in all models. The GS spec costs £39,990, the XS comes in at £46,850 the HSE is £53,750 and the HSE Luxury tops the range at £59,450. Yes, it’s a very expensive car to buy – and it’s costly to run. But the latest modifications have led to appreciable fuel savings, and we reckon the 30mpg+ economy is pretty good for a car of this power and weight.
Subtle tweaks simply make an exceptional all-rounder even better.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-60mph in 8.8 seconds
Economy: 35.3mpg combined
Insurance: Group 41
Tax: Band K – £620 first year
Figures for the SDV6 HSE