Land Rover chose one of Australia’s most iconic and recognisable locations, Uluru, to launch the latest version of its Discovery SUV. You will need to take our word for this because, in respect to the wishes of the traditional owners of the land, no photographs will be published showing the new bigger Disco in front of the old, and much, much bigger, red rock.
When the first Land Rover Discovery was produced in 1989 it was a cross between the capable, but rather crude Defender and the luxurious Range Rover. Over the next 27 years, and four generations, it matured into a more refined vehicle, though it wasn’t until the introduction of the Discovery 3 in 2004 that it became a true luxury vehicle.
Rather than marketing this fifth model as Discovery 5, presumably to avoid confusion with its five- and seven door variants, rather it will be described as the ‘All-New’ Discovery. While that over-used and exaggerated title isn’t correct it does come closer than most others.
The most noticeable change is a more rounded body style than ever before, one that may is likely to upset Land Rover traditionalists but which is in line with the current design trends that are attracting so many buyers to luxury SUVs. To placate the purists the characteristic ‘stepped’ roof has been retained.
Another feature that’s sure to appeal to the growing number of urban customers, including the 700-plus that have placed advance orders, is a reduction of 480 kg in vehicle weight compared to the outgoing Discovery 4 largely through the use of aluminium in 85 percent of the body. This translates into significant fuel savings and reductions in CO2 emissions.
Three turbo-diesel engines will be available in the new Discovery Australian range, two with four-cylinder Ingenium units, the other a V6. The entry-level Td4 has outputs of 132 kW and 430 Nm; the higher tuned Sd4 steps up to 177 kW and 500 Nm; while the TdV6 reaches 190 kW and 600 Nm. A six-cylinder V6 Si6 petrol engines 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. There’s also a limited edition First Edition model which only comes with the Td6 engine. Prices range from $65,960 for a Td4 S five-seater through to $131,871 for the seven-seat Td6 First Edition.
All engines are mated to an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Thankfully there is no two-wheel drive option.
The base grade S models use conventional coil suspension front and rear. All others get electronic air suspension that includes height adjustment for Off-Road, Normal and Access modes; ride levelling; and vehicle moving on the move. It’s available as a $2060 dollar option on the S.
Towing capacity is an impressive 3000 kg in the Td4 and 3500 kg in all other models.
Land Rover’s claim that the new Disco can seat seven full-sized adults in comfort was met with some scepticism but we put it to the test during the launch program and it passed with (almost) flying colours, our only criticism being cramped footroom for taller second-row occupants when the front seats all the way back.
The pair of third row seats are wide, with enough leg and headroom even for six-footers. Access into third-row seats in seven-seaters will always be a challenge for adults so there were no points deducted here.
All three rows can be heated and the seating configuration can be adjusted – wait for it – remotely 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. Just the thing to reverse into your favourite spot at the local footy or cricket ground.
There’s plenty of interior storage including hidden spaces under the central armrest and behind the 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.
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 expensive many luxury brands there is a long list of options.
All rear seats (five or seven) get IsoFix child-seat mounting points.
The few roads around Uluru are wide and straight so there was no opportunity for any serious test of the big SUV’s ride and handling capacities. What they did show was a smooth and comfortable ride that’s right up with the best in the large sedan class so there’s no question that it would serve as an excellent long-distance cruiser.
In the absence of any seriously challenging terrain the lads at Land Rover managed to mould together an artificial test run with a combination of loose sand, steep climbs, moguls and water crossing that showed that, despite its softer external looks, new Disco lives up to its brand’s well-deserved reputation for toughness.
We’ll report on how the Discovery 5 copes with the urban jungle when we take it for our normal extended test in and around the Gold Coast.
The complete 2017 Land Rover Discovery range is:
S Td4: $65,960 (five seats), $71,560 (seven seats)
S Sd4: $71,560 (five seats), $77,960 (seven seats)
S Td6: $78,271 (five seats), $84,761 (seven seats)
SE Td4: $77,050 (five seats), $81,590 (seven seats)
SE Sd4: $83,450 (five seats), $87,990 (seven seats)
SE Td6: $90,161 (five seats), $94,701 (seven seats)
HSE Td4: $87,150 (five seats), $90,550 (seven seats)
HSE Sd4: $93,550 (five seats), $96,950 (seven seats)
HSE Td6: $100,261 (five seats), $103,661 (seven seats)
HSE Luxury Td4: $100,950 (five seats), $104,350 (seven seats)
HSE Luxury Sd4: $107,350 (five seats), $110,750 (seven seats)
HSE Luxury Td6: $114,061 (five seats), $117,461 (seven seats)
First Edition Td6: $131,871 (seven seats)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Land Rover dealer for drive-away prices.