Land Rover Discovery - UK Launch Review
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
The Land Rover Discovery has been a familiar sight on our roads since 1989 and their appeal has been undimmed despite a distinct move upmarket in recent years.
Sales for the previous generation Discovery 4 have continued to remain strong and Land Rover is clearly hoping that buyers will fall in love with the all-new version, now in dealer showrooms.
Out goes the boxy shape and in comes a softer, more rounded look with clear design influences from the Range Rover Sport.
Despite a more 'lifestyle' look, Land Rover is clear that the new Discovery will be as capable and versatile as ever, with seating for seven full-sized adults and go-anywhere capabilities.
At the UK Media Launch, an expectant audience were guided through 'The Seven Wonders of Discovery', the principles behind the new car's creation.
The latest Discovery has been on a diet, with lightweight aluminium construction saving 480kg. This has allowed Land Rover to fit new four cylinder Ingenium engines without compromising performance.
The UK will not get the base 178bhp unit, instead we will have to 'make do' with a 237bhp engine, good enough to sprint to 60mph in 8 seconds.
More familiar is the smooth-operating 3.0-litre V6 diesel boasting 254bhp. If you must have a petrol engine, a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 is offered though I would expect take up to be small.
On the road the Ingenium diesel engine endows the Discovery with brisk performance and should suit most buyers very well. Those who regularly carry a full complement of passengers or who tow may be better suited with the 3.0-litre.
A smooth-changing eight-speed automatic gearbox is fitted to all models and the latest 'terrain response' system aims to ensure that the Discovery will remain unstoppable whatever the conditions.
A night drive through some truly challenging terrain saw us tackle conditions that would stop lesser vehicles. Land Rover claim it is the most capable car off-road it has ever made. I would not dispute that fact, but not only does the Discovery make light work of the conditions, the clever electronics means that even an off-road novice is unlikely to get stuck.
So what else can the Discovery do off road? It can wade through 900mm of water - I know we tried it. The secret is modest speed, a steady right foot and faith in the car's abilities.
Back on the tarmac, our extensive test route through the Brecon Beacons gave us ample opportunity to fully explore the car's on-road prowess.
Refinement is top notch, with just a little wind noise at motorway speeds to disturb the calm of the cabin. The ride errs towards comfort rather than handling and on some of the more challenging moorland roads, there was a tad more body roll than is ideal. A more gentle approach is the order of the day.
The 2.0-litre is the better handling car, thanks I would suspect to the lower kerb weight.
Claimed fuel economy for both diesel engines is surprisingly close (44.8 v 39.2mpg). On test I recorded a little over 30mpg in the more powerful car which I suspect is probably representative.
Existing Discovery owners will find the interior has been finely tuned in key areas and is as comfortable and accommodating as ever. Seven supportive seats come as standard and access to the rearmost is better than ever.
Storage compartments abound and up to 2,406 litres of luggage space is available. Download an app to your smartphone and you can fold the seats remotely in preparation for the load to be carried.
Up to nine USB ports and four charging points combine with an in-car 3G WiFi hotspot to ensure all on board can be connected electronically to the outside world.
The driver enjoys a commanding driving position, with clear dials, big buttons and a generally user-friendly cockpit.
Buying into the Discovery lifestyle does not come cheap. Prices start at £43,495, with top spec HSE Luxury models available from £62,695.
The price is unlikely to deter would-be buyers, ably demonstrated by the facts that Land Rover already has over 5,000 UK orders despite the facts that the cars are only just filtering through to the dealerships for test drives. Worldwide orders exceed 20,000 units, so expect demand to be high.
Making Discovery ownership all the more affordable are a range of 37 month PCP deals (6.9% APR). With a customer deposit of £10,000 for an 'S' model, monthly payments can be as low as £462. Fancy the HSE luxury and have the same deposit? Well, expect to part with £754 per month.
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What is missing is satellite navigation which comes as standard with SE trim, as well as LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and leather seats (heated up front). The pick of the range I would suggest.
HSE adds heated rear seats, a reversing camera and a larger 10-inch touchscreen. You also get a panoramic roof, great for bathing the cabin with natural light but also robbing the cabin of some headroom for taller occupants.
HSE Luxury gets four-zone climate control, 21-inch alloy wheels, a rear-seat entertainment package and a Meridian sound system.
The UK market also gets 600 'First Edition' models (from £68,295) - bespoke colours and 22-inch wheels are the highlights.
The new Land Rover Discovery is a hard car to fault. Some have criticised the softer new look, but if memory serves me correctly the more angular Discovery 3 courted controversy. Other than the offset rear number plate, I like it.
Larger families will continue to enjoy the spacious and practical interior and the hunting, shooting and fishing set will marvel at the increased abilities to get them even further off the beaten track in safety and comfort.
In town where many Discoveries are destined to spend their days, the smart new look will also appeal.
Pop down to your local friendly Land Rover dealer and take a voyage of Discovery yourself. You will doubtless be impressed by what is surely one of the world's most striking and capable cars.
New Land Rover Discovery
Prices start at £43,495 OTR
PCP from £399 PCM (deposit £12,040) APR 6.9%
Four well equipped trim levels; S, SE, HSE and HSE Luxury
New 2.0-litre Ingenium Diesel (CO2 from 171g/km)
Eight-speed automatic transmission
Premium quality interior
Full seating for seven adults
Best-in-class towing capacity - 3,500kg
900mm wading depth
5* Euro NCAP safety rating
Class-leading residuals forecast
Land Rover Discovery - UK Launch Review, 31st March 2017, 16:54 PM