Car Reviews

Land Rover Discovery review

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Despite a quarter of a century passing between the original 200TDi example and the 2014 Discovery, the Land Rover bloodline and pedigree is still there for all to see.

Although the Discovery has evolved a little with each generation, the fourth can only be described as impressive; a description that is only reaffirmed by its seemingly timeless appearance and premium build. Don’t get me wrong, this latest version has been given a few modern tweaks – including a black finish to the tail lights, gloss trim on the grille and the addition of Range Rover-style lamps – but when push comes to shove, it’s what hasn’t changed that keeps this motor in a league of its own.

Clamshell bonnet, huge rear windows and vertical tailgate, along with the trademark Discovery lines are all very much present. There is a clear theme running through this car’s design that simply cannot be ignored – everything is big! Visually imposing, it stands well over six feet tall, meaning it will stand out from the crowd in classic Land Rover fashion. The mirrors, door handles and lamp units all follow suit and although the active air-suspension in “access mode” means you can lower the car by a few inches, entry could still be slightly challenging for some. This is worth noting if you’re planning on having the kids jumping in and out regularly.

When it comes to the interior, chunky buttons and rotary dials are the order of the day. The car has a definite up-market feel and as you would expect from a Land Rover, the finish is first-class – angular design, lots of space and comfortable seats. A selection of choice is also available for nearly every function, whether it’s the climate control system, the suspension or four-wheel drive options, even selecting a high or low gear range – everything is just a click away. Although at first, the plethora of buttons and switches on the dashboard may be a bit confusing, it doesn’t take long to get up to speed.

Very efficient

The Discovery really is all about technology. Every whistle and bell is provided, not least a stunning Meridian audio system with DVD and D.A.B function. When you throw in security cameras, panoramic roof and a very efficient Sat-Nav with a lovely voice, this will be a hard car for techie parents to resist.

The drive is as good as you can expect from this size vehicle – offering a four wheel drive, the engine transfers its power through to the wheels via an 8-speed automatic gearbox. If you get the 3.0 litre V6 twin-turbo diesel model, the Discovery offers 0-60 mph in 8.8 seconds, which is reasonable when you consider that the car weighs a claimed 2583kg at the curb.

The 8-speed gearbox is a huge help to the car’s on-road performance, gear changes and the kick-down action are both seamless and when in low ratio mode, the throttle pedal takes on longer travel settings to avoid lurching and uncomfortable pitching. Unsurprisingly, corners aren’t a strong point for the Discovery with plenty of body roll, but that isn’t this car’s forte and when you’re cruising along the motorway – wind noise aside – it offers a pretty smooth ride.

If you’re planning on heading off-road with the family, this motor offers whole new level of performance – nothing short of fantastic. Once you put the Discovery into off-road mode, switch the air-suspension and terrain response system to suit the conditions, the hi-tech electronics and 4WD response take care of the rest. With low-range gears, centre and rear diff locks and wade sensing, you can also tackle a variety of surfaces within reason without getting stuck.

As with most Land Rovers, the raised seating position and cabin offer a unique luxury. In terms of space, there’s a comfortable amount room for both driver and passengers and although adding gadgets like the dual-view centre console screen may seem trivial – it really is a sight to behold. Handy features that could attract parents include an option to add a set of five cameras which help navigate tight spaces and a 543-litre boot, which is perfect for everything from camping equipment to piling high with shopping.

All-round versatility

With most 4×4’s, it’s the running costs that have you thinking twice. The permanent four-wheel drive on the Discovery, not to mention its weight, means even the diesel option is limited to a reported 32.5mpg – which although not perfect, is a manageable figure for the city drive. For the eco-conscious, it’s also worth noting the car posts emissions of 213g/km, which is a little disappointing when compared to other motors in this bracket, but I suppose you can’t have everything.

If you’re looking for supreme luxury and quality in a vehicle that can cater for any type of terrain, it’s impossible to look beyond the Discovery – which efficiency aside, offers everything you’d want from a 4×4. The fourth generation has enjoyed comparisons with a Swiss Army Knife in the past and looking at its all-round versatility, that’s difficult to argue with.

Family Appeal Value for Money Verdict
Spacious and comfortable; great for camping trips or holidays; maybe too large for the school-run. £59,450 seems like a fairly large sum but for a car that sets the off-road 4×4 standard, it’s probably about right. Versatile; lots of cool technology; off-road capabilities are fantastic.

Car tested: Land Rover Discovery 3 litre SDV6 256ps –  turbocharged and diesel engine.

Model: HSE Lux Spec with 20” Alloy Silver / Black wheels. Chablis Gold with Arabica Premier Leather seats with Arabica & Almond interior, Nutmeg Carpet and Grand Black Lacquer Veneer.