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Few automotive brands command respect in the way Land Rover does.
Born in a ragged post-war Britain, in 1948, it all started with the the car they eventually called Defender. That thing soldiered on through thick and thin for well over half a century. During that time, Range Rover joined the family, and then, as it became clear customers wanted more than a basic mud-plugger, the Discovery arrived.
This year sees the fifth-generation of that machine, another car firmly entrenched in the motoring pantheon. Big and brutal to begin with, the design has evolved over the years, heading further upmarket as more models slotted in underneath, and Range Rover went for the big dollars from well-heeled townies.
The new Disco, as its affectionately known, has been a long time coming. The Disco 4 was really a 3 with some much-needed updates, so this is the first genuinely new Discovery since 2004 and, incidentally, under current owners Tata.
The premium SUV market is a whole different ball game now. Has the Discovery 5 got what it takes?
|Land Rover Discovery 2017: TD6 First Edition|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
As is Land Rover's thing, you've got a dizzying array of models to choose from. Our car for the week was the launch special, a 'Namib Orange' First Edition TD6, priced at $131,871, which isn't mucking about. You can pick up a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel for $64,300. With, it must be said, rather less stuff on-board.
Your First Edition comes to you from Solihull loaded up with 21-inch alloys, a 14-speaker Meridian-branded stereo, multi-zone climate control, ambient lighting, keyless entry and start, around-view cameras, a comprehensive safety package, active cruise (including off-road function), electric front seats, sat nav, automatic LED headlights, leather seats and heated steering wheel, launch control (uh-huh), auto parking, power tailgate, power everything (including folding for both the second and third rows), auto wipers, sunroof and air suspension. And a proper full-size spare slung under the rear of the car.
You can choose from just three colours for this special edition - Black, Orange and Silver, all no-cost options that are usually a slightly improbable $4020.
The keyless entry and start also includes the wristband-style activity key which allows you to leave the 'main' key in the car and use the wristband to lock and unlock.
The media system is Jaguar Land Rover's 'InTouch Control Pro' with a big 10.0-inch touchscreen. This software continues to improve but the sat nav is still really slow when you're punching in a destination.
The remote app on your phone lets you start the climate control while also folding the electrically-operated second and third rows, no doubt saving you vital seconds. You can also open the powered tailgate with a foot-wavey gesture or with the key fob.
The new Discovery is something of a departure from the old one, which was easy to replicate in Lego format. It was a proper square-rigger, looked heavy, and was. The new car is far less brickish, while retaining its imposing road presence, which is pretty important for Discovery buyers.
The new face is very Range Rovery, with the slimmed-down headlights and signature LED DRLs giving it a more modern visage, along with a series of lovely details echoing the smaller Discovery Sport.
The step in the roof is now more of a gentle incline, but it's still there, while the blacked out B- and D-pillars remain to help keep the roof visually separated from the car. In profile, the rear, as ever, looks too high, but that delivers impressive departure angles for the off-roading crowd.
As a city-dweller, I'm a fan of its sleeker look, although the traditionalists will be sure to voice their outrage. I wonder if Land Rover will hear them under the shower of hundred dollar bills this car will make them.
Inside is a more gentle change, but they're all good. It's a huge car and there's tons of space inside to match the exterior promise. Everybody in the first two rows has more space than they could possibly need and lounge around on huge, comfortable chairs, particularly the front seat passengers.
Headroom is basically infinite (okay, not quite) and only third-row punters will feel any sort of pinch if they're over 180-odd cm. It's a premium-feeling cabin, everything feels good, looks good, and smells good.
As you might expect, there's quite a lot of room in here, and its usable. With the third row stowed, the boot starts out at a lazy 1232 litres. That's a lot of litres by any measure. The space more than doubles when you drop the centre row, with 2500 litres available in its two metre by 1.4 metre space. The vertical space will change depending on whether you have a sunroof fitted.
Scattered through the cabin are 21 separate storage spaces which collectively hold 45 litres. The one that hides behind the climate controls is James Bond hidden-feature hilarious, but will fit bigger mobiles. Each row scores two cupholders (six in the seven seater), each door has a bottle holder, and you can store a another bottle in the centre console's chilled bin, taking the total to five.
The question "can I carry it?" will almost always be yes. Block anyone who likes Ikea in your phone or develop a taste for those meatballs.
The venerable 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel carries over, producing 190kW/600Nm, pushing the 2298kg Disco from 0-100km/h in 8.1 seconds. That's not bad for such a monster of a car, but you can't help feeling there's more to come from Land Rover in the form of a more powerful, torquier unit.
The sticker on the windscreen says 7.2L/100km on the combined cycle and... well, I didn't do too badly.
A mix of suburban driving and a long motorway run to Sydney's upper north-western reaches, kept the figure under double digits, with an overall figure of 9.8L/100km.
Power reaches all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission and a centre diff. Towing is rated at 3500kg for a braked load, and 750kg for an unbraked trailer.
The Discovery feels huge from behind the wheel. There are bigger cars out there, but none of them feel as substantial as the Landie. You sit high indeed, requiring a big step up to reach the plush captain's chair behind a big, slim-rimmed wheel.
The air suspension is keen to help, by lowering the car to a more sensible altitude, but you'll still get vertigo if you're not careful. The view out is predictably cinematic and with the combination of around-view cameras and plenty of glass, you shouldn't whack anything.
The steering is light and off-road slow, so you'll be arm-twirling a bit when you're bashing around urban areas, but once you're in the cruise, this is a cracker of a machine. The kays fly by as you enjoy a peaceful cabin with a plush ride from that same, helpful air suspension. While this car isn't fitted with off-road tyres, they're still huge, but you won't hear a peep.
There's a lot in this engine. The new Discovery is a staggering half-ton (well, almost) lighter than the old one, so the same outputs mean better performance and less of a feeling you're piloting an ocean liner. It might not seem much when the 0-100km/h figure is just two-tenths quicker than the lower-powered 'Ingenium' diesel, but it makes up for it with hugely impressive overtaking.
No doubt the torque and the right selection on the six-position 'Drive Control' dial means entertaining off-road capability. I didn't have the chance to get any more ambitious than climbing a gutter or two.
It's still not a track day machine or even much fun in an emergency lane change, but it is difficult to really genuinely unsettle.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
The Disco comes with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, front, side and reversing cameras, forward AEB and lane departure warning.
The First Edition also has reverse cross traffic alert, lane assist with passive steering and driver attention detection. As the First is a three-row proposition, there are four ISOFIX points - two for the middle row, two for the back.
The Discovery was awarded a maximum five ANCAP stars in July 2017.
Land Rovers are covered by a three-year/100,000km warranty, with the option to extend to five years.
While four-cylinder buyers only have to return for a service every two years/34,000km, the V6 will have you there every twelve months or 26,000km. You can pre-purchase five years of servicing for a reasonable $1860 ($372/year).
Roadside assist covers the first three years of ownership.
The Discovery First Edition is loaded up, but you want that for double the entry level's price. The new car is a looker, has tons of space, gets along well and should be a low-stress ownership proposition, especially compared to its ageing predecessor. It will make you feel like you're king of the road without ever being tiresome on those long drives you see in the brochures and TV ads. As a car for the 'burbs, well, it's great, but it's a big 'un. That hasn't stopped anyone before, though, has it?
|SD4 HSE||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$65,200 – 82,390||2017 Land Rover Discovery 2017 SD4 HSE Pricing and Specs|
|SD4 HSE Luxury||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$74,700 – 94,490||2017 Land Rover Discovery 2017 SD4 HSE Luxury Pricing and Specs|
|SD4 S||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$48,700 – 61,600||2017 Land Rover Discovery 2017 SD4 S Pricing and Specs|
|SD4 SE||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$58,100 – 73,480||2017 Land Rover Discovery 2017 SD4 SE Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|