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The Land Rover Discovery seems to get away with being pretty expensive, but without being deemed a posh car. That's quite a trick, given stablemate Range Rover gets plenty of raised middle fingers on the mean streets of Australia's cities, even if you're minding your own business.
Over five-metres in length and a long way up in the air, the Disco, as it is affectionately known, has been around for a long, long time. But in recent years the big unit has come under fire from Germany, with BMW's most recent entrant, the X7, challenging the Disco's seven-seat premium SUV supremacy.
So with that in mind, I spent a week in a Discovery similarly-priced to the big Beemer to check its credentials.
|Land Rover Discovery 2020: HSE SDV6|
Being the top of the range Disco, the $111,078 HSE scores 20-inch alloys, a 14-speaker stereo, multi-zone climate control, an ambient lighting package, keyless entry and start, a 360-degree cameras and parking sensors, reversing camera, active cruise control, plenty of safety gear, sat nav, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, heated front seats, leather everywhere, auto parking, a powered tailgate, a huge sunroof, auto-levelling air suspension and a full-size alloy spare.
Jaguar Land Rover's InTouch media system performs well in the Discovery, although the sat nav is still dodgy. The basic software is now quite good, though, and also comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also has DAB+, digital TV and superb sound from all those speakers
My car also had seven seats ($3470), the $8910 Seven Seat Luxury Comfort Pack, which put heating into all three rows, four-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel and ventilated second-row seats. It also got the $2110 Terrain Response 2 system (centre diff, active off-road suspension), the $3270 Capability Plus (Terrain Response 2, all-terrain progress control, active rear locking diff), $950 adaptive LEDs, $2990 21-inch wheels, the Dynamic Pack 1 for $2130, electric second and third-row seats ($1980 and $650), a sliding front sunroof and fixed rear sunroof ($4370), privacy glass for $890, advanced tow assist ($850) and a head-up display ($2420).
That's almost bang-on $30,000 of options to take us to $140,068.
This version of the Discovery has made a few people mad.
Weirdly, what made people most mad is one of my favourite design features - the offset rear number plate in the huge tailgate. I quite like that it's something different, but boy howdy has it made a ruckus. Complaints may be directed to the editor.
The big shark fin C-pillar still maintains its shape and the floating-roof concept of the early Discovery and the roof step is still there, even if it looks like a first-gen roof was left out in the rain and wind in the Shetlands - it's flatter and smoother now. I think it looks terrific, but it's not the rugged box of Discos past.
The interior is certainly more like the older cars, but actually quite nice to be in. The materials, including the leather, are all very nice to the touch - and it even smells good. The Disco doesn't yet have to the dual-screen option of Range Rovers, but I prefer the manual controls for the climate, even if you don't get all the other funky stuff in the second screen.
This giant car delivers on the promise of its on-road visual presence. It's huge. You can get seven adults on board without hurting them, and while the third-row inhabitants won't be jumping for joy, unwanted knee-cheek interfacing will only afflict those taller than I am (just under six feet).
The middle row is, of course, as generous as it gets without being a stretch limousine, and up front you'll be tremendously comfortable on every-which-way adjustable seats.
You get two cupholders per row for a total of six, bottle holders in each door, a deep, cooled centre box in the front and a massive glove box.
The boot starts at 258 litres with all seats in place, and then in wagon mode you get 1231 litres (worth noting that's 30 litres short of the old car's numbers). With the centre row down there's a whopping 2068 litres.
The rear row splits 50/50 and the middle 40/20/40, so you can configure the space to suit yourself. The electric tailgate doesn't require a sundial to time its opening and closing action, so that's handy.
What Land Rover calls the inner tailgate is a handy spot to park your backside when you're out and about, whether it's watching sport or pulling off your muddy boots.
JLR's 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel pumps out 225kW and 700Nm of torque, with the company's signature all-wheel-drive system and an eight-speed automatic. All of that grunt is countered by a 2.1-tonne kerb weight (despite the liberal use of lightweight aluminium), so the zero-100km/h time works out at a still-respectable 7.5 seconds.
Working with the air suspension system and a centre diff, you have a wading depth of 900mm, 207mm of ground clearance, an approach angle of 34 degrees, departure angle or 24.8 and a ramp angle of 21.2. If you set the car to off-road geometry, the approach angle goes up to 34, departure to 30 and ramp to 27.5.
Gross vehicle mass 3050kg and the Disco will tow 3500kg braked or 750kg unbraked.
Land Rover claims a very modest 7.5L/100km for the combined cycle, and it was with some trepidation I approached that figure - the Discovery is big, heavy and not exactly slippery through the air. Despite all this and with no specific hyper-miling effort, I got 9.5L/100km, which is pretty good going.
It's worth noting that further down the range, Land Rover can sometimes be a bit stingy on the safety gear. I guess when you're paying this much, throwing everything at the car is a must.
So, the HSE has six airbags (although the curtain doesn't reach the third row), ABS, stability and traction controls, blind spot with assist, cameras and sensors everywhere, forward AEB with pedestrian detection, auto high beam, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, speed zone recognition and reminder and rear cross traffic alert.
There are also three top-tether anchors in the middle row along with two outboard ISOFIX points in the second and third rows.
The Discovery scored five ANCAP stars in June 2017.
3 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Land Rover only offers three years/100,000km and three years' roadside assist. While this is competitive with other premium brands, it looks a bit skinny next to mainstream brands like Mazda or even off-road rival Toyota. You can pay to extend the warranty to five years, however.
Service intervals are a very convenient 12 months or 26,000km.
You can buy a service plan to cover the diesel V6 for five years/130,000km for $2450, about $700 more than the 2.0-litre Ingenium engine. Works out at about $500 per year, which isn't cheap but isn't Mercedes pricey either.
You are rather unapologetically sat on, rather than in, the Discovery, the plush captain-style chairs ensuring you see out of the huge expanse of glass around you. In years past, that felt a bit like you were teetering, but the combination of good body control courtesy of the improved air suspension and an incredible feeling of solidity ensures a more pleasant feeling.
The thin-rimmed wheel is classic Land Rover and is filled with clever soft switches, meaning the function of switch changes depending on context. It's quite clever and despite sounding like something that would be tricky to master, took no time at all.
The last time I drove an air suspension-equipped Disco, it had a bit of a floaty feel to it, but that appears banished. There's still plenty of body roll, but the initial lean is well controlled and never feels worrying. These are the sorts of things I think about in tall cars like this. I don't like cars that are tall, and feel tall, but the Discovery has a lower-altitude vibe about it.
It's a fantastic tourer. Its size makes it a bit unwieldy around town (the HSE's many aids go some way to helping that), but on the open road it's peerless. Just a hint of wind rustle around the mirrors, as well as a distant diesel rumble, and you can pound the miles into submission.
The kids will be far enough apart there won't be any arguments, the sunroof can fill the cabin with light and with heating and cooling options a-go-go, everyone will be comfortable.
The Discovery, perhaps unsurprisingly, holds its own against the X7, as it has the Q7 and Mercedes GLE Class. While there are details in the other cars that are better, none of them can handle the rough stuff the way a Disco will while still being serene around town.
It's through this lens that the HSE doesn't actually seem bad value at all.
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||7|