Land Rover Discovery vs. mud


Do you think most people with Supersports Bentleys will do 209mph in them? How many times will Drift Mode will be engaged on AMG E63 estates? And how many Aventador SV owners have attempted to get near 6min 59sec at the Nordschleife?

The cynical guess would be not all that many. And yes, this theory is applicable to the latest Discovery. See, while cars continue to get more capable, it's debatable whether the way we use them changes to reflect that. Naturally this iteration of the Discovery is claimed to be the best one yet, with a drastically reduced kerbweight (up to 480kg, though that is by famously optimistic Land Rover weights) plus increased prowess both on- and off-road thanks to a raft of new technologies. Do Discovery owners use their cars much off-road anymore? Land Rover doesn't know, though the selling point is - as always - that the buyer has confidence in the ability should the worst happen. Same way that Lambo drivers may never go near the Nordschleife, a Discovery driver may tackle nothing more challenging than a field. But it's comforting to know your car can, if required.

Certainly for the launch event Land Rover had something rather more challenging than a field lined up, namely Eastnor Castle. Famous for being part of every Land Rover's development since the 60s, it features a range of tracks and trails that will test (but not overwhelm, you understand) the Discovery's mettle. And the ability of journalists to listen to an instructor, a voice beyond the one in our heads telling us we're great.


Road to nowhere
We should begin briefly on the road however, as that is where the majority of Disco drive time (is that a Simon Mayo show?) will be spent. Though four-cylinder petrol and diesel models are available - and said to be very good, of course - our drive is conducted in the V6 diesel. It's the same unit and gearbox as seen in the Jaguar XF and it works with similar smoothness, though occasionally the gearbox was a little hesitant. And should it be a bit faster for the money?

We're probably being greedy. For the most part it's delightful on the road, the Discovery driving with the flow and authority that's now an endearing JLR trait. The steering is light yet precise, putting you immediately at ease with something so vast. It's by no means a light car but the Discovery certainly doesn't feel overwhelmed by its mass either. And for 90 per cent of the time the ride is superb, though on occasion a bit more of what the 21-inch wheels are dealing with is felt inside.

To the rough(ish) stuff then. There's an assortment of challenges throughout the afternoon to show off the Disco's new off-road technology, spiced up with a competitive element to encourage various Camel Trophy ambitions amongst the attendees. While the competition is a farce - our team was denied victory by two points - the Discovery proves itself more than suitable.


Home turf
Of course that's rather like a Ferrari being good at Fiorano, or a Lotus dealing well with a Norfolk B-road - it's where they're set up, so they damn well should be. Eastnor is tough in places though, certainly tough enough to suggest the Discovery could cope elsewhere. From the driver's perspective, it's the ease of use that helps its case so strongly. All-Terrain Progress Control is now standard, familiar from other products but no less impressive for the way it can descend a claggy, muddy, slippery slope at whatever speed you've chosen on the cruise control dial. It's still a leap of faith to remove feet from pedals though!

Typically the Discovery's Terrain Response dial can be left in auto, the car adjusting its various parameters accordingly and swiftly depending on the surface. It can be manually set as well though, for instances such as having to drive over a rock crawl spilling as little water from the bowl on the bonnet as possible... It's a very easy car for the novice off-roader to get the most from, basically, the steering and visibility that impressed on the road equally handy in the trees. Or on the rocks.

The Discovery can now wade through 900mm of water, which is 200mm up on the old car. Even with a deluge the day before, the car copes easily with the pools of silty crap in the forest. Indeed there's a dash display to show how much wading depth is still left. Once more it's confidence inspiring for the beginner, even if feeling a wheel drop further into the water isn't.


Wood for the trees
Out of the woods and the Discovery can be put into high range again without coming to a stop, the air suspension will lower itself to road height and the diffs will open up. Then you're able to make your way on road again in a refined, luxurious and spacious - actual adults can fit in the third row now - family car.

So while it may be cloaked in a softer, friendlier body than before, the Discovery hasn't entirely lost sight of its roots. That new styling direction is in fact believed to be responsible for a lot of Land Rover's conquest sales for this fifth generation car as well, plus still a key selling point to existing customers. Which, sad though it may seem, actually makes the impressive off-road display rather a moot point. See, more than 5,000 people in the UK have already ordered a new Discovery without even having driven it on the road, let alone off it. Of those, half are the range-topping V6 HSE Luxury too, starting at £64,195. So while purists may not be keen on the Range Roverering of Land Rover, it seems that customers cannot get enough. Fear not though, Land Rover die-hards - there's still a 4x4 buried in there somewhere!


LAND ROVER DISCOVERY TD6
Engine
: 2,993cc, 6-cyl turbodiesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 258@3,750rpm
Torque (lb ft): 443@1,750rpm
0-60mph: 7.7secs
Top speed: 130mph
Weight: from 2,230kg
MPG: 39.2
CO2: 189g/km
Price: £64,195

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

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Comments (179) Join the discussion on the forum

  • leakymanifold 27 Mar 2017

    I thought the 6 cyl diesel in the XF had 300bhp, which is more than the Discovery and possibly explains why you thought it needed more

  • MorganP104 27 Mar 2017

    Is it me, or is it getting more and more difficult to differentiate between Land Rover's current product set?

    A Range Rover Evoque looks very much like a Land Rover Discovery Sport. Which in turn looks very much like a full fat Land Rover Discovery. Which, hold on, looks an awful lot like a Range Rover Sport... Or a full fat Range Rover, come to that.

    It's a worryingly popular trend these days to make all your cars look the same (see also: Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes-Benz).

  • Riverside Red 27 Mar 2017

    Hate the daft offset rear number plate.........

    RR

  • Tuvra 27 Mar 2017

    MorganP104 said:
    Is it me, or is it getting more and more difficult to differentiate between Land Rover's current product set?

    A Range Rover Evoque looks very much like a Land Rover Discovery Sport. Which in turn looks very much like a full fat Land Rover Discovery. Which, hold on, looks an awful lot like a Range Rover Sport... Or a full fat Range Rover, come to that.

    It's a worryingly popular trend these days to make all your cars look the same (see also: Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes-Benz).
    Does it matter? If it looks good and suits your needs and budgets better than its bigger/smaller brother then I don't see an issue? confused

  • MorganP104 27 Mar 2017

    Tuvra said:
    MorganP104 said:
    Is it me, or is it getting more and more difficult to differentiate between Land Rover's current product set?

    A Range Rover Evoque looks very much like a Land Rover Discovery Sport. Which in turn looks very much like a full fat Land Rover Discovery. Which, hold on, looks an awful lot like a Range Rover Sport... Or a full fat Range Rover, come to that.

    It's a worryingly popular trend these days to make all your cars look the same (see also: Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes-Benz).
    Does it matter? If it looks good and suits your needs and budgets better than its bigger/smaller brother then I don't see an issue? confused
    I'm not saying the cars aren't good - by all accounts, they are excellent. But I wonder why they all need to look the same.

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