Land Rover's fifth-gen Discovery is a stylish mud-plugger.
Land Rover's fifth-generation Discovery has been around for a few years now and not only has it had to deal with getting older, but renewed – and brand-new – competition from the continent. We spent a week with the mid-spec SE SDV6 to see how it's hanging in there.
The fifth-generation Discovery was a big deal when it came out, but for some reason everyone was too busy getting upset about the offset rear number plate. It was all the things a Discovery could and should be, with a lovely new interior, comfort galore, seven-seat option and lots of nifty interior tech.
It also looked a lot less like a Lego car, which was part of the reason people got upset about it.
It's now three years since it was first unleashed upon the world. How time flies, pandemic or not. Sharing lots of its underguts (and interior) with the posher Range Rover, the Discovery remains a car that attracts respect and love not just from owners from other road users, not something you could say about its more expensive twin.
Land Rover Discovery 2020: SDV6 HSE (225KW)
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 7/10
The SE starts at a sliver under $100,000 and comes with a 10-speaker stereo, 19-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, front, side and rear parking sensors, cruise control, electric front seats, sat nav, auto LED headlights with auto high beam, leather trim, auto parking, powered and heated folding mirrors, auto wipers, air suspension and a full-size spare.
The SE starts at a sliver under $100,000.
JLR's InTouch media system continues to improve and is supplemented with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Frustratingly, the sat nav is even dumber than Apple Maps, something that has been an issue for a while. The sound is really good, though, and it's all simple to control on the screen and the contextually-aware steering-wheel buttons.
Being a Land Rover, options are almost inescapable. The Yulong White is a properly pricey $2060, the 22-inch rims a spicy $6240 in sparkle silver, the sunroof $4370 and the third row of seats $3470.
The SE comes with 19-inch alloys, or you can get 22-inch rims for $6240.
The HUD is $2420, the Driver Assist Pack (blind-spot monitoring, high-speed AEB, around-view camera and adaptive cruise with steering) is $2320, two more climate zones for $1820, keyless entry for $1190, heated front seats ($850), powered tailgate ($790) and a few other bits and bobs drag the price up to $127,319. Some of these things should be standard, others are yeah, whatever.
Is there anything interesting about its design? 8/10
As you may have guessed from my intro, I really like the new Discovery. The old one had an eight-bit Minecraft charm about it, but it was a block of flats on wheels. This more Range Rover-ey design might be blurring the lines between the brands, but that's like people complaining if a Ford looks like an Aston. Not a bad thing. I think the unapologetic exterior design, which fails to hide the Disco's bulk, works really well and the blacked-out roof looks a treat in the Yulong White.
The exterior design works really well and the blacked-out roof looks a treat in the Yulong White.
The cabin is really nice. I don't usually go in for big machines like this, but the design team's commendable restraint makes for a lovely space. It's very simple and straightforward (and will be simpler if it ever gets the clever dual-screen InTouch Duo) and the only thing I really wish for are different column stalks. I find the current ones a bit flimsy-looking and -feeling and don't fit the chunkier aesthetic – they're much more at home in Jaguars. The materials are really nice and everything feels and looks solid.
How practical is the space inside? 9/10
The tremendous trade-off for such a giant footprint is the fact there's a ton of space inside. The lofty roof means room to stretch your hands skyward and almost get your elbows straight, especially in the back. This is a real seven-seater that only one or two others can match.
The boot starts at 258 litres, which is about the same as a small hatchback. With the middle row in place you get 1231 litres. With the centre (40/20/40 split) row down there's a frankly excessive 2068 litres.
There's a ton of space inside the Discovery.
This is a real seven-seater that only one or two others can match.
The boot starts at 258 litres, which is about the same as a small hatchback.
With the centre row down there's a frankly excessive capacity of 2068 litres.
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.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 7/10
JLR's 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel winds up for 225kW and 700Nm of torque, with the obvious all-wheel-drive system. An eight-speed ZF automatic transmission gets the power to the wheels. Even with a 2.1-tonne kerb weight, the V6 Disco clobbers the 100km/h sprint into submission in 7.5 seconds.
JLR's 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel winds up for 225kW and 700Nm of torque.
The air suspension system means 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.
Gross vehicle mass is 3050kg and the Disco will tow 3500kg braked or 750kg unbraked.
How much fuel does it consume? 7/10
Land Rover claims a very modest 7.5L/100km for the combined cycle.
The last time I had a Discovery I recorded a mildly surprising 9.5L/100km. I wondered if that was an aberration and may have spent more time in the transmission's sport mode than was strictly necessary. Before stretching its legs on a long run to see what the Discovery is like in the cruise, the trip computer read 9.8L/100km. Not bad for a 2100kg SUV punching a huge hole in the air.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 7/10
The Discovery SE has six airbags (worth noting that the curtain airbags don't reach the third row), ABS, stability and traction controls, forward (low-speed) AEB with pedestrian detection, forward-collision warning, auto high beam, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, speed-zone recognition and reminder and rear-cross-traffic alert.
As I've already mentioned, this particular car had blind-spot monitoring added and you really should get it in the base package. Weirdly – but not unwelcome – lane departure is standard as is clear-exit warning to stop you clobbering passing cyclists when you open the door.
The Discovery scored five ANCAP stars in June 2017.
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.
Warranty & Safety Rating
3 years / 100,000 km
ANCAP Safety Rating
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 7/10
Land Rover's standard warranty is still three years/100,000km, with segment rivals Volvo and Mercedes already having gone to five years. At the time of writing (May 2020), Land Rover was offering a five-year warranty to help shift some metal.
Land Rover expects to see your Discovery one a year or every 26,000km. You can purchase five years of servicing (with roadside assist thrown in) for $2650. That seems pretty decent value to me, working out at $530 per year.
What's it like to drive? 8/10
I've driven a few big units recently – utes and SUVs, mostly from Japan – and you can tell that not a great deal of effort has gone into making them ride nicely. Fair enough in utes, but a big SUV should always ride well. Because, let's face it, you're not going to be tracking one of these, so you may as well make it comfortable.
Despite its heft, the 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel's 700Nm seems always on.
The air suspension really makes the Discovery what it is. It doesn't so much as soak up the bumps as much as ignore them. A bump has to be really big for you to notice it unduly. The steering is reasonably slow, which means you'll be steering a bit more than the Germans, but that has obvious trade-offs if you do the sorts of things for which this car is famous. Sadly, I didn't get to ford a river, or bounce it down a sand dune, or slip down a muddy hill.
Perhaps more difficult, however, are the streets of Sydney and the Disco did a fine job of that. You do have to have your wits about you, of course. Over two metres wide and nearly five metres long, you are driving a million dollars of Sydney real estate in square footage terms. Despite its heft, the 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel's 700Nm seems always on. The eight-speed ZF is its usual brilliant self and perhaps the only thing I'd want to change is the brake pedal. I want a bit more bite at the top of the pedal, but that's a niche whine.
The steering is reasonably slow, which means you'll be steering a bit more than the Germans.
And through all that, you can carry seven normal-sized people. While the rear row won't be everyone's favourite, the occupants can see out the window and they have a reasonably deep footwell.
With the Germans throwing their biggest cars at the Discovery, Land Rover seems to be weathering the onslaught well with the large 4WD. As I said last time, those Germans might have better cabins, or more power, or handle better, they're never as comfortable both on- and off-road.
Some people will tell you that the Disco is a hard-core off-roader and they're right – this thing will go just about anywhere. But it's also a very plush ride on the tarmac where it will obviously spend the vast majority (if not all) of its life.