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Land Rover Discovery SDV6 HSE

 

There’s no reason to doubt that the next-generation model will be as capable off-road as ever, but it’s clear there will be a bit more bling for future Discovery models

Base price: $108,900

Powertrain and performance: 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6, 183kW/600Nm, 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive, Combined economy 8.8 litres per 100km.

Vital statistics: 4829mm long, 1887mm high, luggage capacity 280/1192/2558 litres, 19-inch alloy wheels (20-inch as tested with optional Black Design Pack).

We like: Cruisy character, mighty engine, functional nature.

We don’t like: Ridiculously large and heavy, clunky infotainment interface.

How it rates: 7/10

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? If you’ve seen the new Discovery Vision Concept show-car, you’ll have realised that the Discovery’s days of stark functionality are probably drawing to a close.

There’s no reason to doubt that the next-generation model (previewed by the Vision Concept) will be as capable off-road as ever, but it’s clear there will be a bit more bling for future Discovery models. Indeed, Land Rover is planning to emulate its approach with Range Rover, by having a full-size Discovery and a smaller Sport model.

So think of our Discovery 4 test car here as helping with the transition. It’s the same model we’ve known for a decade now (there have been many upgrades along the way, of course), but with an optional Black Design Pack it also introduces a dramatic look-at-me effect into the ownership experience.

For an extra $6250 (total price $116,300) the Black version features 20-inch alloys, blackout effect on virtually every piece of exterior trim, full-length roof rails and privacy glass. Or blacked-out windows, as you might say.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? The Discovery tips the scales at 2.5 tonnes and is about as aerodynamic as a small apartment. A 3.0-litre engine might not seem sufficient in that context, but this turbo diesel is a mighty thing (600Nm of torque, no less) and gives the impression of effortless performance. Especially with the smooth eight-speed gearbox doing its thing.

That’s not to say the Discovery is sporty. There’s a lot of body roll and the ride can be unsettled in urban driving, as is so often the case with hard-core off-road vehicles. So this is a vehicle that must be driven with a certain degree of dignity and circumspection – and it’s all the more enjoyable for that. Surf along on that wave of torque and simply sit there feeling like King (perhaps Queen is more British) of the road.

The Discovery is an impressively refined machine at speed, with low wind noise (despite the brick-like shape) and only a distant rumble evident from running on New Zealand’s coarse chip seal.

IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? It’s easy to drive the Discovery in a dignified manner because you sit so high and upright, in sumptuous chairs (complete with armrests).

There’s a functional look to the Discovery cabin, but it’s certainly not at the expense of luxury. The materials are high quality and there’s leather everywhere. Nice attention to detail on the instruments and switchgear also.

The Discovery is feeling a bit old-hat in some respects, although they tend to be things that are endemic to Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) product, rather than being exclusively indicative of the Discovery’s advanced years. Such as the rotary gearlever, which was once a pleasant novelty but now seems a bit retro-sci-fi. Fiddly too, for you have to wait for it to rise up out of the console at startup and occasionally wrestle with it to move past Park.

The same gearlever is used in a variety of JLR product, of course. But the new Range Rover Sport and Jaguar F-Type have conventional selectors and are all the better for it.

The information screen/sat-nav needs a bit of an overhaul as well. It’s a nice big display, but the graphics look a clunky next to newer systems from rival makers (or even some mainstream cars) and the operating system can be awfully slow to achieve simple tasks, such as skipping a track on your iPod. But again, this is JLR business rather than something unique to Discovery.

You could never complain about the accommodation. The Discovery is a seven-seater that offers all occupants a great view out thanks to that upright cabin and large glasshouse.

The third row is still only occasional (third rows generally are), but even with all chairs occupied there’s still 280 litres of bootspace. Fold them down to make Discovery a five-seater and the cargo space is a staggering 1200 litres.

SHOULD I BUY ONE? You’d be doing so in full knowledge that the Discovery is right at the end of its life cycle and that a new, vastly different-looking (and perhaps feeling) model is on the way.

However, the current car has a charm all of its own: it’s old-school in a very appealing way, with lazy (but not slow) performance and a feel-good cabin environment. And it goes without saying that it can conquer mountains, although why you’d want to go off-road and scratch that shiny black paint and warp those massive alloy rims is another matter.

True, the black-on-black detailing is probably not for everybody, although it does turn the Discovery into a visually arresting item.

If the absence-of-light effect is too much, the Black Pack is also available with white paintwork.

EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST

  • Air conditioning: Dual climate
  • Audio: CD, iPod compatible
  • Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
  • Blind spot warning: No
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Cruise control: Yes
  • Driver footrest: Yes
  • Gas discharge headlights: Bi-xenon
  • Head-up display: No
  • Heated/ventilated seats: Yes front and rear/No (part of $2050 Cold Climate Pack)
  • Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
  • Lane guidance: No
  • Leather upholstery: Yes
  • Parking radar: Yes with camera
  • Power boot or tailgate: No
  • Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/Yes for driver
  • Rear ventilation outlets: Yes
  • Remote audio controls: Yes
  • atellite navigation: Yes
  • Seat height adjustment: Yes
  • Self-parking technology: No
  • Split/folding rear seats: 60/40 and 50/50
  • Steering reach adjustment: Yes
  • Stop-start: Yes
  • Trip computer: Yes
  • Find your next Land Rover Discovery HERE


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