Notching up award after award, Land Rover’s Discovery has rightly earned its place in the 4×4 hall of fame. Few if any others in its class can take on the awesome all-terrain-busting capability, ease of use, space, quality and versatility – at the price. Little wonder it has become quite a global phenomenon.
The latest model on test is a more elegant and athletic evolution, enabling it to shed a hefty 400kgs and thus prove more economical and nippy – as evident in the introduction of a spritely and frugal new SD 2.0-litre 238bhp diesel, averaging out 35mpgs during its time with us. The 500Nms of torque help boost the Discovery in this guise to an 8.3 second 0-62mph sprint.
Out on the road it certainly doesn’t feel underpowered and coupled with Land Rover’s silky-smooth gearing, is a smooth and willing ride. There’s ample engagement, minimal wallow and roll and despite its size, feels remarkably agile even when pushed on narrow and twisty ‘B’s.
Take it off for a play, and honestly – a few hours ploughing through rivers, deep ruts, steep and slippery hillsides is much more fun than you’ll have on a track. You’ll be in awe at just what the Discovery can tackle – even with the odd wheel off the ground and leant at a severe angle. You don’t need to be an expert at off-road driving either – every car comes with terrain response, hill decent control, adjustable air suspension and a two-speed transfer case with high and low range.
The odd bit of flooding won’t stop you either – thanks to an impressive ability to wade in up to 900 millilitres of water. Browse through the options list and you’ll spot Terrain Response 2 and all-terrain progress control – worth going for if you tend to head off piste on a regular basis. All the off-road information is displayed on infotainment system allowing you to see the position of the wheels, suspension travel and the angles of the car – confidence giving and providing extra safety.
Slip inside and you’ll find a cabin that’s quiet, refined, luxurious and comfortable, with minimal road, wind and engine noise, making it one of the best cruisers in its class. It’s easy to forget you’re not in a Range Rover. Material quality is very good, bar the switchgear which doesn’t quite meet the standards of Volvo’s XC90 and the Audi Q7. But we’re nit-picking really here.
In the centre of the dash is the easy to use 10.2-inch control screen – you’ll have to upgrade to SE trim if you want Sat Nav – which seems a little bit petty in a car of this calibre.
Storage in the discovery is excellent with large door cubby and huge centre compartment and even secret storage behind climate control. However, the boot space is its wow factor with a maximum capacity of 2,406 litres which is almost the size of the van. Safe to say, even when needing to lug enormous and hefty loads the Discovery won’t let you down.
Over all, the Discovery just makes sense. It’s an impressive decathlon of a car – master of many disciplines and more than capable of meeting pretty much everything you could demand of it. Starting at under £50K, it’s well priced too.
Luke Penny/ Lisa C