The fifth-generation Discovery is a whole lot more refined than its predecessor – but has it lost its go-anywhere appeal?
- It's bigger, lighter and a lot more economical
- Seven forward-facing seats, electrically operated
- Good off-road, great to drive on it
- Prices have risen over outgoing models
- It's grown, too…
- Has it lost its rugged go-anywhere appeal?
The rejuvenation and expansion of the Land Rover range continues apace with one of its most important models – the all-new Discovery. This fifth-generation Discovery has to replace the much-loved, if flawed, previous model but also compete against many capable rival offerings with seven seats in the large SUV class.
It will undoubtedly find itself on the same shopping lists as other upscale off-roaders, such as the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, which can't hope to keep up with the Land Rover off-road. But in terms of on-road appeal, they were ahead of the old Discovery, which is the main reason why Land Rover has taken pretty much all of what came before, and given it a comprehensive reboot.
It now feels much more like a luxury vehicle but without sacrificing practicality. Refreshingly the more modestly-priced versions are arguably the best in the range – the Sd4 engine is the pick of the bunch, while both money and weight can be saved by choosing the manual seat folding mechanism. It is the most practical car in the class, and by virtue of this and its even stronger image it will be first choice for many buyers.
Improved efficiency, more powerful engines
Depending on the model, the weight saving is as much as 450kg, although it remains a large and relatively heavy model at 2.1 tonnes even in its lightest form. It's moved upmarket in terms of pricing (see specifications to see how much), but a top-of-the-range 2.0 HSE Luxury weighed in at £62,995 at launch.
The UK range starts with a the twin-turbo four-cylinder British-made and designed Ingenium engine, developing 240hp at 4000rpm. Land Rover claims that even with this smaller engine, the Discovery can cover the 0-62mph run in 8.0 seconds.
Likely to sell less, but be better to drive, will be the turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel (260hp) and the impressive supercharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol, developing 340hp.
All the four-wheel drive hardware
Its permanent four-wheel drive system drives through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with the now-ubiquitous (to Jaguar Land Rover) cylindrical selector. To ensure it's as impressive off-road as its predecessors, it comes with a low ratio transfer case for the ultimate in mud-plugging ability.
In addition, the Discovery receives all of Land Rover’s latest Terrain Response systems. There is a selection of off-road driving modes, which as well as making the most of its four-wheel drive system, uses clever electronics to keep it from spinning its wheels when the going gets tough.
Land Rover says the Discovery is the most capable off-roader it has ever made. It has a 900mm wading figure, and its maximum ground clearance is 283mm. Not only that, but it has half a metre of axle articulation, which means it can deal with huge potholes and obstacles that get in the way of one side.
That smart new suit
So, despite its sophisticated new looks, which ape those of the smaller Discovery Sport, it's hugely capable off road. The smoother look will take some getting used to for older Discovery owners, though.
Some details such as the stepped side windows and lop-sided tailgate are a brave attempt to link it with the past, this is clearly a car that takes its maker upmarket to fight the Germans head-on.