What is it?
The big Land Rover Discovery has been a mainstay in the SUV game for decades. Blending the kind of luxury you’d expect from a full-fat Range Rover but with a more rugged, go-anywhere edge, there’s good areason why it has proven so popular.
But there’s a small fly in the Discovery’s ointment these days - the Defender. That car is selling like hotcakes, but can the Discovery still prove its worth? We’ve been finding out.
Land Rover has gone down the finessing route with the Discovery. The fundamentals are the same; we’ve got seven spacious seats, plenty of off-road tech underneath and an upright, confidence-inspiring driving style. But a range of new engines mean that the Discovery is a little greener than before, with mild-hybrid technology helping to improve this big SUV’s efficiency.
We’ve also got some of the latest technology that Jaguar Land Rover has to offer inside, which has already been used to great effect across the rest of the range.
What’s under the bonnet?
The smallest engine available with the Discovery is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with just shy of 300bhp, but we’d opt for the engine we’re testing today - the 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel in the D300-badged model. Again, it’s got just shy of 300bhp, but it’s 650 Nm of torque means it’s great for towing or long-distance journeys.
Thanks to the inclusion of mild-hybrid technology, it’s cleaner than ever, too. In fact, CO2 emissions can be as low as 216g/km - depending on which specification you go for - which is impressive for a car of this size and weight.
What’s it like to drive?
The tall, commanding driving position that you get from the Discovery’s seat is immediately confidence-inspiring. This is a big car, after all, so if you’re not used to driving larger cars then the Discovery can feel a little intimidating, to begin with - but you soon get used to it, mainly thanks to the car’s square proportions which make it easy to judge where the corners are.
This 3.0-litre diesel engine is a peach, too. It’s really refined and flexible, too, while bags of torque means that it gets the Discovery up to speed in smart fashion. On a cruise, it’s whisper quiet too which will make longer trips a lot more comfortable.
How does it look?
As we’ve mentioned, Land Rover has gone down the route of fine-tuning the Discovery’s looks rather than completely tearing up the drawing book. So we’ve got some slightly sharper front lights - with integrated LEDs - while around the back, it’s much the same story. We’ve still got the hotly-debated offset number plate, too, which - to our eyes at least - still looks pretty good.
You can get the Discovery in a range of specifications, too, which do tweak the way it looks slightly - with R-Dynamic versions, for example, adding some nice little gloss black accents into the front air vents.
What’s it like inside?
Big, spacious and packed with features, the Discovery’s cabin is a great place for people who really need a lot of room. Of course, the headline attraction is the Discovery’s seven seats, with even the rearmost seats providing a surprising amount of leg and headroom. Even adults can get comfy there.
But there are loads of clever features to take advantage of, too. For instance, the front seats have USB sockets mounted on the back of them - so there will be no squabbles about who gets to charge their device - while independent controls for the heating and ventilation means that everyone can get their own temperature spot-on.
What’s the spec like?
All versions of the Discovery get boat loads of standard equipment. For example, even entry-level ‘S’ variants receive 20-inch alloy wheels and leather seats, while the front chairs are 14-way adjustable and heated, too.
Move up to R-Dynamic SE grade and you’ll find more luxurious equipment added, with 21-inch diamond-turned alloy wheels, premium LED headlights and an upgraded Meridian sound system being some of the key additions at this level. All versions get JLR’s latest Pivi Pro system, too, which is a big plus point - it’s packed with features and is really easy and responsive to use.
The Discovery continues to be one of the best seven-seaters around. Endlessly versatile while still being comfortable and refined, it’s a great choice for drivers who want a real all-rounder of an SUV.
The addition of cleaner, more efficient engines is a big plus point, too, while the upgraded technology and plentiful standard equipment only make the package even more appealing.