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Land Rover Discovery engines, drive and performance

2017 onwards (change model)
Performance rating: 4.1 out of 54.1

Written by Murray Scullion Published: 12 August 2021 Updated: 22 February 2023

  • One petrol, two diesels offered
  • All are mild hybrids
  • No plug-in option

Petrol engine

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The P360 is a 3.0-litre six cylinder unit. It’s capable of delivering the standard 0-62mph sprint in 6.5 seconds and is lively enough to keep up with traffic, even when it’s filled with your family.

It’s fast, but the relatively high-revving engine doesn’t really suit the nature of the Discovery, especially for drivers who have moved away from diesels.

Having said that, it cruises well on the motorway, and isn’t troubled by steep inclines or the need to accelerate past slower-moving vehicles. Sometimes the transmission can struggle to keep up with a distinct laziness when changing down – but driven in a more relaxed manner, it’s hard to pick fault with it.

The smaller, less powerful P300 is no longer on sale. If you’re in the used market it’s a worthwhile buy – it may not be as powerful or as fast as the P360 – but it is usefully cheaper and more economical.

Diesel engines

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For many, this is still the natural engine choice for a Discovery and it’s easy to see why. With all that power and torque on tap, it makes little effort of moving along at a reasonable pace despite its 2.1-tonne kerbweight.

Land Rover Discovery driving
Enthusiastic drivers will notice the car’s electronic safety systems kick in without much provocation

The D250 isn’t far behind the D300 in real terms and we reckon that it is powerful enough for most owners. It gets up to speed effortlessly, and unlike the petrol, doesn’t feel like it’s working particularly hard. The D250 is the best all-rounder for most drivers, with the transmission doing an excellent job of keeping its powerful motor spinning at optimum revs.

Still, there’s no doubting the D300 feels significantly stronger than the D250, making it the natural choice for those looking to tow or just get to their destination that little bit faster and more smoothly.

What’s it like to drive?

  • The Discovery is biased for comfort, so it rolls in bends
  • Slow steering best suited to leisurely driving
  • Once you’re used to it, the Disco handles really well

The Discovery steers with an assured sharpness although you’re aware of all the mass that the suspension is having to deal with.

The comfort bias is entirely appropriate for a car that is likely to be used for carrying people and their luggage instead of storming down B-roads. However, if you should try and hurry it along it will do so, if a little reluctantly.

It seems obvious to say it, but the Discovery is less engaging and capable than the Range Rover Sport, but less yacht-like than the Range Rover. Which is what you’d expect given the Discovery’s position in Land Rover’s line-up.

Land Rover Discovery driving
The Discovery rolls less than other large SUVs

It features a sophisticated suspension set up shared with the Range Rover. The upshot is that on all roads, ride quality is superb, beating all rivals barring the Audi Q7. Riding on air suspension it is clearly tuned for ride comfort over handling, even if it has quicker-acting steering taken from the Range Rover Sport

What’s it like off-road?

To ensure that it’s impressive off-road, there is a selection of off-road driving modes, which as well as making the most of its four-wheel drive system, use clever electronics to keep it from spinning its wheels when the going gets tough.

The Discovery has a 900mm wading depth, 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.