From £43,1409
Does the new, smaller-engined starter Discovery evince the same inimitable charm when driven in the UK?

Our Verdict

Land Rover Discovery

Is this a triumph of style over substance or is the fifth-gen Discovery the best yet?

Nic Cackett
23 March 2017

What is it?

Land Rover likes to imagine the Discovery as the ideal conglomerate of its split personality: absorbing just enough of the Range Rover’s prestige to counteract the blunt-force utilitarianism of the dearly departed Defender - with the prospect of seven exceedingly family-friendly seats lobbed in for good measure.

In some parts of the world, where the Range Rover symbolises Land Rover to the exclusion of practically everything else, the Discovery hardly features. But in the UK, it is automotive manna to the upper-middle-class, muddy boot-wearing white collar types, landowners, horsebox enthusiasts and anyone with a lingering affection for ‘proper’ 4x4s.

We adored it, too. The outgoing Discovery 4 was, by rights, too heavy, too thirsty and in possession of far too many right angles for something intended to move through air - but it drove softly and superbly, could not be stopped by anything short of a tank trap and would easily accommodate a five-a-side football team, plus kit.

Its replacement does all of these things too, except it does them while being lighter, less thirsty and with all the sharp edges of a stormtrooper’s helmet. The blurrier look is intended to help broaden the car’s appeal, and better locate it in the current Land Rover line-up. A new four-cylinder engine – the 237bhp 2.0-litre twin-turbo Ingenium unit – ought to do likewise, with an official combined economy of 43.5mpg.

We’ve delved deep into the technical detail previously, so now, with the car finally in the UK, it’s time to double-check what seemed like impeccable credentials at the international launch. Elsewhere, we’ve tried the 3.0-litre diesel V6; here we concentrate on the four-cylinder in HSE trim, a combination which costs from £56,995. 

What's it like?

When Land Rover replaced the Range Rover in 2012, it acknowledged that its customers wanted essentially the same car they had, just better. Almost five years later, it has plainly taken the same approach taken with the Discovery - and the result is a comparable triumph.

Anyone still resolutely bearing a grudge about the possible similarities with the Range Rover Sport’s belligerent dynamics can rest easy: the Land Rover drives nothing like its platform sibling. It feels palpably taller, calmer, burlier, extraordinarily comfortable in its own skin and proudly mindful of its occupants' isolation.

The old Discovery, with the unflappable assurance of a large policeman wrapping a blanket around your shoulders, constantly affirmed that everything was going to be okay, whether you were on the outside lane of a wet motorway or rock crawling in the Outer Hebrides. This new model does precisely the same thing, except now the copper is simultaneously handing you an iPad.

It's quite possible that the full weight of the car’s tech payload will pass by even the most diligent of users. Although no-one purchasing the HSE trim will fail to appreciate the latest InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, the Meridian sound system or the convenience of having both rows of back seats electronically powered, it's the computerised ballast underneath that staggers when the going gets tough.

In standard format, alongside the transmission’s low-range function and almost a metre of wade depth, you’ll get the same electronic air suspension and centre differntial as supplied with the Range Rover Sport – enough, realistically, to see you safely and smoothly over 90% of terrain. For the remaining 10%, there’s the £1100 Capability Plus Pack, which features an additional locking differential for the rear axle, Terrain Response 2 and All Terrain Progress Control.

Throw in the £365 Advanced Tow Assist (a system which allows you to effectively steer a reversing trailer with the Terrain Response controller) and the limit of the Discovery’s off-road prowess wasn’t easily discoverable even at a thoroughly sodden Eastnor Castle – the spiritual home of Land Rover’s development team.

Not once, it must be said, during either the mud-plugging in Herefordshire or the Welsh B roads beforehand did we yearn for the larger displacement of the 3.0-litre engine. The praise already visited on the more powerful Ingenium unit is well-deserved; the 369lb ft of torque from 1500rpm being comfortable enough to make light of the car's 2.2-tonne weight.

For those particularly keen to merge with motorway traffic in brusque SUV style or power away from mid-range apexes, the gutsier unit might be preferable (it is inevitably a smidge more refined when doing either, too) but for those interested in owning and driving a Discovery for what differentiates it from the Range Rover Sport, the 2.0-litre engine fits the languorous, enigmatic, yet down-to-earth brief almost perfectly. 

Should I buy one?

Yes, and you won’t be alone in doing so. Land Rover has taken around 20,000 orders worldwide already, and it expects demand to be constrained by available supply in the immediate future. The majority of those buyers, many of them repeat in the UK, have opted for the six-cylinder engine they’ve already formed an attachment to – and that’s fine.

Yet the four-cylinder unit, assisted by the new architecture’s lighter weight, does practically everything the 3.0-litre oil-burner used to, and without the need to become quite so well acquainted with your local petrol station attendant. Naturally, the objective disclaimer required here is that others – notably the starter six-cylinder unit in the Audi Q7 – will do the job even more efficiently and for (broadly speaking) the same money.

But that’s a different sort of machine; not because its car-derived platform isn’t what Land Rover even considers a proper SUV – but because it fails to replicate the Discovery’s esoteric, outsized charm. The successful transplant of this inimitable quality from old to new ranks among Land Rover's most telling achievements in an unprecedented decade of progress for the brand.

Land Rover Discovery 2.0 SD4 HSE 

Location UK; On sale now; Price £56,995; Engine Four cyls, 1999cc, turbodiesel; Power 237bhp at 4000rpm;Torque 369lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerbweight 2230kg; Top speed 121mph; 0-62mph 8.3sec; Economy 43.5mpg (combined); CO2 189g/km; Rivals Audi Q7 3.0 TDIVolvo XC90 D5

Join the debate

Comments
31

23 March 2017
Not a lot down on power of the 3L but accepting that the 2L can do a job as good as the 3L that we are so used to in the Discovery is a bit of a challenge. But for driving around Chelsea most of the time? Why not.

23 March 2017
Yet again JLR produce a top of the tree product it knocks the German opposition into the grass and that,s before it goes off road where it absolutely trounces them . Of course there are those who like propellers, stars or rings on their drive but its their loss driving second in the race .

23 March 2017
Antony Riley wrote:

Yet again JLR produce a top of the tree product it knocks the German opposition into the grass and that,s before it goes off road where it absolutely trounces them . Of course there are those who like propellers, stars or rings on their drive but its their loss driving second in the race .

Change the record! No-one is going off road in this except to tow a caravan off a wet field. Your propellers, stars and rings will do that and where it matters - on the road, will run rings around this dinosaur.

24 March 2017
Cleverzippy1 wrote:
Antony Riley wrote:

Yet again JLR produce a top of the tree product it knocks the German opposition into the grass and that,s before it goes off road where it absolutely trounces them . Of course there are those who like propellers, stars or rings on their drive but its their loss driving second in the race .

Change the record! No-one is going off road in this except to tow a caravan off a wet field. Your propellers, stars and rings will do that and where it matters - on the road, will run rings around this dinosaur.

If you want a SUV that is road biased then you buy a RR Sport. That will wipe the floor with your German junk. Ain't NOTHING From Germany that will keep up with the discovery off road or even the RR/RR Sport.

24 March 2017
Cleverzippy1 wrote:
Antony Riley wrote:

Yet again JLR produce a top of the tree product it knocks the German opposition into the grass and that,s before it goes off road where it absolutely trounces them . Of course there are those who like propellers, stars or rings on their drive but its their loss driving second in the race .

Change the record! No-one is going off road in this except to tow a caravan off a wet field. Your propellers, stars and rings will do that and where it matters - on the road, will run rings around this dinosaur.

If you want a SUV that is road biased then you buy a RR Sport. That will wipe the floor with your German junk. Ain't NOTHING From Germany that will keep up with the discovery off road or even the RR/RR Sport.

24 March 2017
That's funny, looking at the RR sport on LR website, most German models you mention are not only considerably cheaper but performance-wise blows RR away. And for Christ's sake please stop mentioning off-road, nobody but nobody drives RR's off road unless you are a gormless, camo-wearing, snorkel-toting social retard. Just because it's good offroad 1% of the time, means it's shit 99% of the time i.e. on the bloody road.

23 March 2017
£57k for a large SUV with 2.0 pot diesel?? Crazy!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

A34

23 March 2017
xxxx wrote:

£57k for a large SUV with 2.0 pot diesel?? Crazy!

Whereas £52K for a large Volvo XC90 SUV with 2.0 (pot?) diesel isn't? Or £55K for a BMW X5 with 2.0 diesel? Welcome to the 2nd decade of the 21st century!

23 March 2017
A34 wrote:
xxxx wrote:

£57k for a large SUV with 2.0 pot diesel?? Crazy!

Whereas £52K for a large Volvo XC90 SUV with 2.0 (pot?) diesel isn't? Or £55K for a BMW X5 with 2.0 diesel? Welcome to the 2nd decade of the 21st century!

They're crazy prices too, back to the car in question.

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

A34

26 March 2017
xxxx wrote:
A34 wrote:
xxxx wrote:

£57k for a large SUV with 2.0 pot diesel?? Crazy!

Whereas £52K for a large Volvo XC90 SUV with 2.0 (pot?) diesel isn't? Or £55K for a BMW X5 with 2.0 diesel? Welcome to the 2nd decade of the 21st century!

They're crazy prices too, back to the car in question.

Touché!

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Seat Leon ST Cupra 2.0 TSI 4Drive 300PS DSG
    First Drive
    28 April 2017
    Seat's fastest Leon ST is fun to drive quickly and has enough space for all the family, but VW's own Golf R Estate is even better to drive
  • Porsche 911 GT3 manual 2017 review
    First Drive
    28 April 2017
    The new 911 GT3 is an excellent machine; does the addition of a manual gearbox make it even better?
  • Skoda Karoq
    First Drive
    28 April 2017
    The Yeti has morphed into the Karoq for its second generation, and this early drive reveals a solid, practical small SUV that could challenge the class best
  • Opel Ampera-e
    First Drive
    27 April 2017
    Opel's second-generation Ampera is smaller than the first, and now purely electric. It's also very capable with a remarkable range
  • Lotus Elise Sprint
    First Drive
    27 April 2017
    The latest incarnation of the Elise may be out of its depth on track, but on the public road it is probably the purest version since the original