Almost 70 years ago the first ever Land Rover vehicle, the Series I, was launched at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show an event that the company will commemorate with what it has dubbed World Land Rover Day on the 30th of April.
The original Land Rover was inspired by the iconic Willys Jeep that had proven itself during the Second World War and like it, was rugged and simple in both its appearance and performance.
The first Land Rover Discovery was released in 1989 to occupy the very large gap in the range between the heavy duty Defender and the luxury Range Rover. Nearly three decade and four generations on, it has evolved into a more refined vehicle, though it wasn’t until the introduction of the Discovery 3 in 2004 that it became a semi-luxury vehicle.
The latest, fifth-generation, Discovery was unveiled at the 2014 New York Motor Show and launched here in mid-2017. The most noticeable change is a softer, more SUV-ish, body than ever before. This raised concerns from a number of our local Land Rover fans who were fearful that this reflected a decline in Disco’s traditional all-terrain abilities. We were able to assure them that this was not the case – see our drive impressions later in the review.
Importantly for them, as well as for those travelling in the rear seats, the traditional stepped roofline has been retained.
Significantly for the dual benefits of fuel savings and reductions in CO2 emissions there has been a reduction of up to 480 kg in vehicle weight compared to the outgoing Discovery 4 principally through the use of aluminium in 85 percent of the body.
Three turbo-diesel engines are offered, two with four-cylinder Ingenium units, the other a V6. The entry-level Td4 has outputs of 132 kW and 430 Nm with fuel consumption listed at 6.3 litres per 100 kilomtres.
The higher-tuned twin-turbo Sd4 steps up to 177 kW and 500 Nm and 6.5 L/100 km; while the TdV6 reaches 190 kW, 600 Nm and 7.2 L/100km.
CO2 emissions are 166, 177 and 189 grams per kilometre respectively.
A six-cylinder V6 Si6 petrol engine is also produced but there are no plans for it to be imported.
All three engines are available in each of four equipment levels; S, SE, HSE and HSE Luxury and with the choice of five or seven seats. Prices range from $66,450 for a Td4 S five-seater through to $120,200 for the seven-seat Td6 HSE.
All engines are mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Unlike many in its class there’s no two-wheel drive option.
The S models use conventional coil suspension front and rear. The higher-specced variants get electronic air suspension with height adjustment for Off-Road, Normal and Access modes.
All variants have a towing capacity of 3500 kg.
Land Rover claims genuine seating for seven full-sized adults in new Disco rather than the usual 5+2 in similar sized SUVs and apart from the usual problem in accessing the third row once there the seats are wide, with enough leg and headroom even for all but the tallest occupants.
Theatre seating sets each row of seats slightly higher than the ones in front for good outward visibility for those in the rear.
All three rows can be heated and the seating configuration can be adjusted remotely, believe it or not, by smartphone with the optional Intelligent Seat Fold feature. With all seats in place there’s 258 litres of rear storage space. Lowering the third row seats increases it to 1231 litres and a maximum 2500 litres with the second row seats also folded.
The tailgate can be folded down to provide seating for three with a combined weight of up to 300 kg although during our test the three grandkids hogged the spots while we were watching the local cricket finals.
There’s plenty of interior storage including hidden spaces in the central console and under the central armrest as well as a small-item stowage area behind the fold-down climate control panel.
Connectivity is a must in modern vehicles and every seat in the new Disco has its own USB input as well as 3G Wifi for up to eight devices and up to six 12v sockets. S and SE models have an 8-inch touchscreen, HSE and HSE Luxury get a 10-inch screen. Both screens provide a sharp and clear display.
There are numerous other pieces of gee-whiz technology so ask the salesman to give you a demonstration. Make sure you check which are standard – as with many expensive luxury brands there is a long list of options.
IsoFix child-seat mounting points are fitted on the outer seats in the centre row and both of the third row seats.
The aluminium and light-alloy diet which has trimmed up to 480 kg off new Disco’s tummy has made a significant difference to how it copes with the suburban jungle. There’s also electric power steering to adjust steering where applicable – lighter around town and firmer on the highway. It makes the big car feel much less cumbersome than previously and brings it into line with its German competitors. At the same time it has become noticeably more agile in hilly and twisting terrain and much more enjoyable to drive.
The ride is smooth and comfortable and comparable with anything in the large sedan class so there’s no question that it would serve as an excellent long-distance cruiser
We did take the new Disco over the moderate off-road section of our normal local drive. We didn’t expect any problems, and didn’t get any, so we had to refer back to the artificial circuit that Land Rover prepared for us during the car’s very-Australian launch at Uluru last year.
The circuit replicated some of the serious conditions that could be expected in the real world: loose sand and dust (red of course); steep, narrow and sharp climbs; tight moguls and a pretty scary water / mud crossing to test the claimed 900 mm wading depth.
Given the heritage and reputation behind the Discovery nameplate and the changes that had been made there was a palpable breath of relief when it passed all tests. The traditionalists can rest easy – this big Land Rover is the best yet.
AT A GLANCE
Td 4 S 2.0-litre 132 kW turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $66,450 (automatic)
Sd4 S 2.0-litre 177 kW twin-turbo diesel five-door wagon: $72,050 (automatic)
Td6 S 3.0-litre 190 kW turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $78,750 (automatic)
Td4 SE 2.0-litre 132 kW turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $79,550 (automatic)
Sd4 SE 2.0-litre 177 kW twin-turbo diesel five-door wagon: $85,950 (automatic)
Td6 SE 3.0-litre 190 kW turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $92,650 (automatic)
Td4 HSE 2.0-litre 132 kW turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $89,850 (automatic)
Sd4 HSE 2.0-litre 177 kW twin-turbo diesel five-door wagon: $96,250 (automatic)
Td6 HSE 3.0-litre 190 kW turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $103,000 (automatic)
Td4 HSE Luxury 2.0-litre 132 kW turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $103,650 (automatic)
Sd4 HSE Luxury 2.0-litre 177 kW twin-turbo diesel five-door wagon: $110,050 (automatic)
Td6 HSE Luxury 3.0-litre 190 kW turbo-diesel five-door wagon: $116,800 (automatic)
Optional Seven-Seat Pack: $3400
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Land Rover dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Land Rover Discovery Sd4 SE 2.0-litre turbo-diesel five-door wagon)
Capacity: 1.999 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 177 kW @ 4000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 500 Nm @ 1500 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.4 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 168 g/km
DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4970 mm
Wheelbase: 2923 mm
Width: 2073 mm
Height: 1888 mm
Turning Circle: 12.3 metres
Kerb Weight: 2115 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 77 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / 100,000 kilometres