The Land Rover Discovery was one of the first 4×4 vehicles I appreciated as a child. My father worked for “New Rowley Motors” at Artarmon, NSW in the spare parts department. They sold Jags and Land Rovers so occasionally he’d score one for the weekend. At the time, it seemed like the pinnacle of motoring for me. We were far from well off, so a Euro prestige car sitting in the driveway was bloody cool. I loved watching him hammer that petrol V8 with the stepped roofline and high mounted rear side glass panels. Off-road, at least at the time, I thought it could go anywhere. But fast forward to 2017 and we now have an all new design, a huge departure from tradition and even four-cylinder diesel engines.
First up the “Disco” no longer resembles anything that would even hint at its now 27-year heritage. It looks like a Ranger Rover Sport from many angles, plus it’s built on the same frame. The rear C pillar and wrap around glass are very much like the Discovery Sport. If ever there has ever been a pure case of “out with the old, in with the new” this is it. But having said that, I like the change – a lot. Its looks are sophisticated, especially in black. I’m a fan of the sharp, prestigious presence that turned plenty of heads in my street and leaves the old box for dead.
What Stays the Same.
The new Discovery now qualifies as a proper suburban SUV all while maintaining the off-road DNA it’s renowned for. It doesn’t drive like it looks either, in the handling department this is no Range Rover Sport. The cabin can become awash with unsecured items such as drinks or coins even at the mere hint of a corner. It lunges and rolls about with the best of them, It’s only marginally more composed than a Toyota Prado. But that, I’d suggest, is a deliberate balance the engineers decided to go with, posh looks with plenty of underlying hints as to where it can really go.
The car is also huge, a proper seven-seater. That stepped roofline really makes it possible for seven adults to enjoy the ride. The company clinically says the third row can accommodate adults in the “95th percentile”, so no giants but more than just for preteens.
I tested the TdV6 HSE variant, up front was a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesel that produces 190kW / 600Nm. There are a couple of 2.0-litre four-cylinder “Ingenium” turbo-diesels on offer to suit your budget as well. All are paired with renowned ZF eight-speed gear boxes. The turbo-six is punchy, after a good second of turbo lag. It’s the type of engine that requires you to pre-judge pushy roundabout drivers and even overtaking manoeuvres. But I love the shove it gives you once wound up and an obvious lust for hard work. It’s not the most refined diesel around, but there’s enough inherent build quality and insulation to keep the worst of it at bay.
A Proper SUV?
Yep, it fulfils this job admirably. Aside from the space there are a multitude of storage spaces and hidey spots. Stowage in the centre console can hold four iPads, while the central armrest can hold five. There’s great ventilation throughout the cabin and an ingenious electric panel in the rear cargo area that allows you to lower or raise each seat at the click of a button. This procedure can also be carried out via the centre console screen or even an app. Plus the suspension can be lowered by 40mm to allow all to get in and out easily. As with all Land Rovers, visibility is excellent all round. To charge all those devices won’t cause an argument with six 12-volt outlets and six to nine USB plugs, depending if the rear entertainment option is fitted.
The “InControl” Touch Pro system is showcased via a 10-inch screen. It’s a reasonably attractive interface, but entirely touchscreen based with no rotary dial as found in many makes and models these days. It could and should feature enhanced connectivity such as Apple CarPlay, but sadly it doesn’t.
The 14-speaker Meridian system is excellent as is the ability to score an “Active Key” wristband. Basically, this allows you to leave the key in the car and go swimming without worrying about it being discovered under your blatantly hidden towel.
The Td6 HSE range kicks off at $100,261. You can upgrade to the Luxury variant for $114,061 or the top of the line “First Edition” from $131,871. At the very base sits the Td4 from $65,960. The as-tested six-cylinder model is rated at 7.2L/100km although I averaged 10.8L/100km, but don’t take my driving as “real-world”.
EFTM Rubber Stamp.
This car isn’t for the purist, few 4x4s fit that bill these days anyway. But I think it strikes the perfect balance between genuine weekend off-roader and trend setting weekday urban accessory. I award the 2017 Land Rover Discovery the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of Approval.