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Land Rover Discovery

Au revoir set-square.
By David Walshe
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Ah no. My go-to car that has resisted the trend/fashion to round every corner and remain faithful to the setsquare has been replaced by a new, curvier Discovery. It also demonstrates that if you remain the same then at some point in time you will come back into fashion as demonstrated by the straight line, angular looks that are all the rage at present.


Still, times change and the car that personified muscle, strength, and dare I say it an homage to Cubism, has succumbed to the curve. Those curvy looks align it seamlessly with the rest of the Land Rover / Range Rover family – again a seemingly non-negotiable requirement for anyone making cars these days for a homogenous corporate look. I should probably get over myself but I really loved the idiosyncratic and unique look of the outgoing Discovery and am of the opinion that the motoring world has lost one of its charms.


That new look is, as I said curvy. Some previous styling DNA remains like the offset number plate and the roof to sill doors. But gone are the split rear door and the different shaped glass areas. The current look is one of harmony and synchronicity with the standout design feature being the much more angled C pillar that reminded me of the Citroen DS3 and its shark fin similarities – I like it. The imposing front of the Discovery really is the best iteration of the family look so far.


Open those roof to sill doors to climb on board and the interior is a most plush place to be. Usually people grab the steering wheel to assist and that’s the first opportunity to notice how much thinner it feels from other cars. A real contrast using a thin steering wheel to steer a big car. And boy is it huge, measuring 4,970mm long 2,073mm wide and 1,888mm high making it the same width as the Range Rover, 30mm shorter but 19mm taller so essentially the same size. The dials and controls in the Discovery are, joy of joys, still uniquely different and you could only be in a Land Rover. Okay, they are very similar to the ones used in other Land Rovers but this is one consistency I’m happy with. In fact the feel and quality is on a par with the offerings in a Range Rover adding to the difficulty in separating the brands. We are at a point where they are nearly inseparable including size. Which sort of supports my point that if you want curves get a Range Rover and for angles it could have remained that way in the Land Rover Discovery.


The sense of space in the Discovery, especially with that higher roof, is incredible. You feel like you’ve entered a room, not a car. The boot for instance can take 1,137litres when not being deployed as a seven seater and that’s a seven adult seater mind. It’s unfair to list what my car had and had not as standard as you can get nearly every conceivable option fitted so the base prices are your starting points and then its up to you what you want to add.  The old, split rear door is gone but there is a fold down flap as a sort of compromise or acceptance that they got it wrong? My fuel return was 10.7l/100kms that is commendable and could be improved upon.


I found driving the Discovery a very relaxing undertaking. You simply don’t feel the need to race or rush anywhere. It is a car to savor driving and the longer you are in it the better. With a much better infotainment system compared to the old model you can lose yourself listening to your favourite sounds, radio station or, as I increasingly do, podcasts. It chews motorways up and on normal roads the super absorbent suspension leaves all passengers unruffled. Despite being up high body roll was well controlled and the electronic systems needed to make that happen work very well.


With wide-spaced double-wishbone design at the front and advanced multi-link layout at the rear, the suspension delivers more responsive handling without compromising Land Rover’s hallmark all-terrain capability according to Land Rover. I confess I have to agree but can’t vouch for the compromise and that handling coupled with the super smooth ride quality is quite astounding in a car this size. Granted for the money and the name you’d expect it to be but jut not as good as it has turned out to be.


The range is powered by three diesel and two petrol engines with the entry level 2.0l Ingenium diesel delivering 180hp starting from €56,085. There are 4 trim levels to choose from S, SE, HSE and HSE Luxury. There are 3.0l petrol and diesel versions too and from previous Discovery owners these are the ones to go for coupled with air suspension. Those engines have to drive all four wheels to do what the Discovery was made to do – off-roading. I didn’t get to test this alas and I must make a point of taking the next Land Rover off road and enjoy the wizardry that modern electronics and tyres can do. To get that go anywhere ability there’s a myriad of systems available like Terrain Response, All Terrain Progress Control, Hill Descent Control, Wade Sensing and Air Suspension. All these, or combinations of them, delivers a real go anywhere vehicle from the go anywhere car company. If you do venture off road and happen to damage a tyre I was a bit disappointed to discover that whilst, thankfully, there is a spare wheel it is a spacesaver wheel. Give me a full size wheel for a full size vehicle that by its nature is more prone to puncture from the surfaces it is being asked to traverse.


Land Rover calls the Discovery “The most versatile SUV” and is the backbone of the range. That versatility extends to the clientele buying it as it caters for the utilitarian buyer as well as the image conscious one and let’s not forget the image conscious utilitarian buyer.


This car competes against the like of the BMW X5 series, the Audi Q7 and the Mercedes GLS but really it doesn’t. The buyers of a Discovery have the utilitarian requirement foremost in their minds. Years ago it had the label of being part of the Chelsea Chariot Brigade but the Discovery drivers I know have bought it for the work they want it to do - visit construction sites, off road locations and/or something to tow. If it’s an image thing for you then the German offerings are usually the ones chosen. Not that the Discovery isn’t fit to be a Chelsea Chariot, it sure is, and can play Luxury Top Trumps with the best of them. Its real world work competitor is probably the Landcruiser but its safe to say that the Landcruiser hasn’t the style appeal of the Discovery.


I make no bones about the fact that the Discovery was my favourite from the Land Rover family with most of my favoritism attributed to the individualistic looks. The new one’s luster has faded a bit for me as a result but for the purpose for which it was designed it’s still spot on and is a case of three steps forward with one step back.

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