Fans of the modern SUV have an awful lot to thank Land Rover for. Over the past 70 years, the British brand has been right at the heart of transforming what started life as a military workhorse into something achingly desirable that you’d be proud to park on your driveway.
But there’s little room for sentiment in the cut-throat world of car sales. Land Rover may have a bigger heritage to shout about than any of its rivals, but that’s unlikely to persuade you to part with your hard-earned cash if there’s something demonstrably better on offer at the same price. Put simply, the new Land Rover Discovery needs to be brilliant to tempt you away from other luxury SUVs, such as the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90.
Like both of those rivals, the Discovery is a whopping great seven-seater that sits above the company’s smaller Discovery Sport and below the similarly sized but much more expensive Range Rover Sport. To that end, it should appeal to families who are more concerned about space, practicality and go-anywhere ability than the finer nuances of luxury and performance
The styling of the Land Rover Discovery 4 is very similar to the Discovery 3. The vehicle uses the same integrated body frame structure but the lights are now altered to give the Discovery a more smooth appearance. The rounded styling is very Range Rover like and makes the Discovery look modern yet retro. Even though the overall styling of the Discovery is true to the original model, the latest version is significantly more aerodynamic than its predecessors.
The front grille is very prominent and the wheel arches have a massive bulge. The headlights and tail lights are LEDs and the massive 19-inch wheels give the Discovery 4 a purposeful stance. The subtle lines on the body are very neatly executed. This Land Rover is menacing in size and measures 4838 mm long, 2176 mm wide (with mirrors) and 1837 mm tall. The ground clearance of 185 mm can be increased to 310 mm with a touch of a button. With such massive dimensions, the Discovery 4 is almost unmissable on the road at attracts a lot of attention.
The interior styling of the Discovery Sport matches that of the other new Land Rovers. The new Discovery Sport is the perfect replacement for those who need fresh and modern styling and were hesitating too buy the Freelander2. The Discovery Sport retains high quality interiors but do not expect it to be premium. The Discovery family is about good quality but not premium and there is a difference between the two.
There is the two-dial instrument cluster with white backlight, easy to read and operate. For those not used to Land Rovers the power windows switches are mounted next to the window than the armrest. Another JLR touch is the rising gear knob when you push the ignition switch. The Discovery Sport even has a new centre console, which is simple to operate and functional. The Discovery series is more about being functional than luxurious
What it misses is the character of the Freelander2, like bigger windows that made the cabin feel airy, the thick and chunky gear stick, the twin vertical chrome strips on the steering wheel that functioned as the horn. These aren’t important but they add some more character the SUV. This is what Freelander did and but the new Discovery series has its own design characteristic
The things that we liked about the Discovery Sport is the rear seat space and no more stadium like seating that the Freelander2 offered. Then there is also an option of 5+2 seating as well so two children can be seated at the rear making it a complete family SUV. It is available as a fine and seven-seater.
Just like the new RR Sport’s design and choice of trim in-cabin, the choice of powertrains is also a mix of the head and the heart. There are a total of four engine options available with the new RR Sport. Both fuel options petrol and diesel get V6 and a V8 mills. The 3-litre V6 diesel engine is also offered in two states of tune with power outputs set at 258 PS and 292 PS. There is also a 4.4-litre V8 diesel with a higher 339 PS peak output.
The diesel engines are all meant to appeal to the head! Perfect for the city-dweller and great on the highway too, the V6 diesel I drove from Cheltenham just outside London up into the hills of the Welsh countryside was extremely quiet too. These engines are refined and provide a lot of low-end torque; though after driving the V8 petrol I thought it could do with more top whack – the unending quest for more power.
The petrol engines, however, are all heart, especially the aurally mesmerising 5-litre V8. Stepping on the throttle of the supercharged V8 5-litre produces the most awesome, guttural exhaust note to have emanated from a SUV’s rear. Waking up the neighbourhood is just a throttle blip away. Power delivery is immediate and as the 2.3-tonne vehicle surges ahead, you’d wonder if the 105-litre petrol tank is filled instead with Red Bull!
0-100 kmph comes up in just 5.3 seconds in the supercharged V8. Lest you forget, let me remind you that this is a loaded, luxury SUV. Top speed with the optional package is electronically limited to 250 kmph. Sending all that power to the wheels super efficiently is the new 8-speed ZF transmission. Gear shifts are almost imperceptible and really quick just when you need it most. For a more engaging drive, you can use the steering mounted paddles or manually shift the gear lever up or down the gear slots.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
Land Rover really couldn’t have made driving the Discovery simpler. In everyday use it’s just a car, a big tall car admittedly, but nothing unusual about it. Get it off the tarmac at Tabitha’s gymkhana and the Terrain Response button has handy icons to select the correct 4×4 settings. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel features twin turbos, meaning although it’s weighty, it shifts convincingly given its size. The eight-speed automatic is unerringly smooth and refinement from the drivetrain is high. The upright windscreen does mean some wind noise around the A-pillars, but you’ll not notice it over the noise of kids in the back.
Along with engine upgrades, Land Rover has also improved the suspension over the years. It’ll still go anywhere off-road, but it’s more adept on it now. It rides decently, while the steering is not the ‘mare that you might anticipate and even body roll is kept in check.
SAFETY AND SECURITY ;
All trim levels come with eight airbags and automatic emergency braking, which (as it says on the tin) means the car can automatically hit the brakes if it senses you’re about to hit the person in front – even if they’re on foot.
Upgrade to HSE trim and you’ll also get a driver condition monitor, traffic sign recognition (the speed limit of the road you’re driving down is displayed on the dashboard), a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross traffic alert. The latter warns you of approaching vehicles when you’re backing out onto a road.
All three rows of seats have Isofix mounting points, a point noted by Euro NCAP when it awarded the Discovery the maximum five stars in its crash test. If you look at the individual categories, the Discovery isn’t as good as the XC90 or the Q7 for adult or child protection, but outscores them both when it comes to protecting pedestrians.
The Freelander2 had been a great off-roader. But with what the brand has done is that made it even better. The Freelander2 was the most adventurous in its segment when it came to sitting it’s shoes, now the Discovery Sport even possesses good on-road manners too.
Land Rover has enhanced its product against the German rivals and there is no denying that the Discovery Sport is far more superior product. The company has invested more on the underpinnings and this what makes the Discovery Sport a better buy for those who need capable off-roaders. If you only want luxury, then pick the Range Rover Evoque.This is more luxurious and is at par worth competition, but not an capable off-roader as the Discovery Sport. Our personal pick is the Discovery Sport, as we like to love to go off the road very often.