The Land Rover Discovery has an unbeatable combination of practicality, off-road ability and on-road manners
First DriveWith an all-new, fifth-generation discovery around the corner, we revisit the current car in special-edition Landmark form
First DriveThe Discovery is an exceptionally versatile vehicle: a grade-one off-roader, proper seven-seater and rapid and luxurious way to cover distances
What is it?
Despite the name, this isn’t an all-new Discovery, but an extensive facelift of the Discovery 3.
The changes are more mechanical than cosmetic, and chief among them is the enlargement of the V6 diesel engine from 2.7 to 3.0 litres. Essentially this is the same engine recently fitted to the Jaguar XF, except that in the Discovery there is a single state of tune.
With 242bhp, it sits between the lower and higher-powered XFs, but the Discovery’s 443lb ft matches that of the XF 3.0D S.
Land Rover has also tweaked the suspension (revised knuckles and thicker anti-roll bars) and steering to improve on-road dynamics, while adjusting the Terrain Response and Hill Descent Control functions to enhance the Discovery’s already impressive off-road abilities.
The exterior gets a new, more prominent grille and LED bulbs for the rear lamps and front sidelights.
Inside, the dashboard has been softened to give a more upmarket feel, while wood and leather are used more generously and keyless go has been introduced.
What’s it like?
At nearly three tonnes, the old 2.7 TDV6 Discovery could occasionally struggle, especially when adding speed at motorway speeds or overtaking.
Weighing 140kg less and with an additional 119lb ft, the Discovery 4 responds more briskly and, because you rarely have to ask everything of the engine, is a fair bit more refined.
Drive within the realms of what can be reasonably expected of a large SUV and the new Discovery can motor along with a decent mix of pace and comfort. Despite the larger engine and extra performance, economy and emissions improve by around 10 per cent.
Befitting the more polished drive, the interior does feel noticeably plusher and less cluttered, and the revised front seats offer more lateral support. Not content with a reversing camera that can help you line up a tow bar with a trailer, the new Discovery can be specified with cameras at the front and under each wing mirror. Apparently this is useful for off-roading, but also handy for parking.
While the new Discovery still trails the BMW X5 in its road manners, the alterations to the suspension mean it corners more flatly and precisely. Given the Discovery’s weight and off-road capabilities, its agility on the road is impressive. The air suspension produces a touch of fidget at slow speeds, but with speed this smoothes out nicely.
Should I buy one?
If you’d been tempted by a Discovery before, this latest version should prove even more tempting. The alterations successfully address those areas where there was room for improvement, by usefully increasing the everyday performance, upping the refinement and making it better to drive on road.
Prices have crept up slightly (more so on the cheaper models than this HSE spec), but this seems fair, given the improvements.