Why we ran it: To see if there is still a place for a big, capable 4x4 like the Land Rover Discovery, or find out if newcomers have elbowed it out
Life with a Land Rover Discovery: Month 3
Has the reborn Defender made the Disco feel obsolete? Our final report reveals all - 23 November
If my recent 12,800 miles of Disco driving is anything to go by, there’s one important class of Land Rover driver who’ll be mystified by all this talk of “finding a new identity” for the impending sixth generation. That will be the happy breed who have been busily putting miles under the wheels of current, fifth-generation Discos since they hit the market in 2017.
The JLR hierarchy see it as a Land Rover priority to reposition the forthcoming Discovery because they reckon it now flies too close to the glamorous new Defender, whose do-it-all persona has brought huge sales success.
The next Disco, they say, must be more “family-oriented”, whatever that means. However, if my ownership experience is any indication, such a move can really only extend to the styling.
My D300 R-Dynamic HSE fitted so brilliantly into the life and times of my family, just as Discoverys have done in five generations since 1989. True, this latest iteration was a bit slow out of the sales blocks in its first months, but now it seems to be subject to the same sort of long waiting times as the rest of the Land Rover line-up. The D300 came to us with around 4500 miles on the clock from Land Rover’s launch press fleet, pointing out the options its own experts considered mattered most.
The Discovery options list is long and complex, and ticking every box can produce a vehicle of eye-watering price. This car’s £75,120 price (it would have been £67,290 with no extras beyond the chosen packs) struck us as quite enough.
The key highlights were the deep HSE options set, the 300 mild-hybrid diesel engine and the R-Dynamic chassis (complete with sensibly sized 21in alloys). After several months of extensive driving, every one of those choices stood the test. The chassis was surprisingly sharp for handling on road, where the car spent 99% of its driving life. The engine – good for an impressive 6.8sec 0-62mph sprint time – was unobtrusively perfect for the job.
The 21s ran tall-enough Michelin all-terrain tyres to protect the alloy rims (we were able to give this hard-worked car back with its wheels unmarked). The HSE equipment pack worked perfectly: I’m one who admires the capability of JLR’s latest infotainment set-up. And our car was distinguished by no-extra-cost suede-cloth seat inserts that suited the well-equipped but not quite plush persona of the rest of the interior.