The Land Rover Discovery is a legend of 4x4s, beloved of everyone from well-heeled urban families, to farmers, film crews and rural dwellers. The Land Rover brand is synonymous with heavy duty off-roaders that can go far into the wilderness traversing rivers, rocks and hills with little fuss, but these days style is just as important.
As such the new 2017 Land Rover Discovery has had one heck of a makeover. The Discovery is now on its fifth generation and this is the most stylish yet, following in the footsteps of the smaller Land Rover Discovery Sport. The new car still plays some homage to its boxy predecessors, including the stepped roof and the offset rear number plate, the latter being a particular point of controversy because it does look odd here.
Climbing into the new Land Rover Discovery reveals a plush cabin that will have you seated head and shoulders above most other road users. Sitting in the Discovery is nothing short of ‘stately’. The new interior has a beautiful mix of materials including lots of leather and stylish wood inserts built around the new 10″ InControl Touch Pro infotainment system.
Passenger accommodation is royal too, with both five and seven seat versions available in Ireland. The car is longer than before but narrower and lower with a longer wheelbase boosting interior space. The footwells are large and three will sit comfortably in row 2, while row 3 is better than most too. There are five ISOFIX points to please family buyers. The second row seats slide forwards and back so luggage space or rear legroom can be optimised depending on preference. The boot is huge in five seat mode, with a smaller 258 litres in seven seat mode.
In Ireland the new Discovery range starts at €57,815 for a five seat model, while seven seat models start at €68,950. There are four trim levels for the Irish market including S, SE, HSE and HSE Luxury, while standard equipment includes 8″ touchscreen, 19″ alloys and air con.
The new Land Rover Discovery has a new lightweight construction that saves a massive 480kg when compared to the older car, thus boosting efficiency. Land Rover’s Ingenium family of 2.0-litre diesels are available for the first time in the new Discovery, with either 180hp (badged Td4) or 240hp (badged Sd4). There is also a 3.0-litre TDV6 with 258hp and 600Nm of torque. Four wheel drive is standard, as is an 8 speed automatic gearbox.
My test car was a 2.0-litre Sd4 HSE Luxury 7 seat model with an eye watering list price of €94,120. Equipment included 20″ alloys, LED headlights, rear view camera, Windsor leather seats, keyless entry, electric sunroof, Meridian sound system with 16 speakers and subwoofer, 10″ touchscreen and tri zone climate control.
The Land Rover Discovery feels nothing short of a luxury barge. Seated high above most other road users, occupants are well isolated from the great outdoors and the road underneath. The ride on the standard air suspension is beautiful and the automatic gearbox changes gear with little fuss. The 240hp 2.0-litre diesel moves the Discovery along nicely and returned about 33mpg for me over a week of driving.
The Land Rover Discovery does feel large on the road but you can hustle the car along with a great deal of precision. Don’t get me wrong – it’s definitely not sporty – but it’s far from lumbering and Land Rover has improved the on road driving manners considerably.
A glance down at the dials and switches on the centre console reveals the true mastery of this car. Land Rover has boosted ground clearance of the new Discovery by 43mm and the maximum wading depth is 900mm, an increase of 200mm. There is also the multi mode Terrain Response 2 system on board that adjusts settings for whatever terrain you encounter from rocks to sand and everything inbetween. The All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) can keep the car in an automatic crawl speed so the driver can concentrate on just steering when taking on challenging terrain.
The Land Rover’s offroading ability is undisputed but it’s a sign of the times that this new generation of the Discovery has gone upmarket and more stylish, with generous accommodation and practicality for families. As well as benefiting greatly from a more lightweight structure and greater efficiency from the Ingenium family of 2.0-litre diesels, the new Land Rover is beautifully appointed and the comfort and refined cruise ability of this car will have you on cloud nine as soon as you climb aboard. The looks might be controversial but the Land Rover Discovery remains utterly desirable.
Model tested: Land Rover Discovery 2.0 Sd4 HSE Luxury 7 Seat
Price: €94,120 (Range starts €57,815)
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo diesel
0-100km/h: 8.3 seconds
Top speed: 207km/h
Claimed Economy: 6.3/100km
CO2 emissions: 171g/km
Motor tax: €750 per year