THE ICONIC Land Rover Discovery sets a benchmark in its class, brilliantly combining the on-road comfort of a luxury car with unstoppable off-road ability.
In latest guise, the Discovery is smoother, quieter, more comfortable and even better equipped and overall, it is a package which rivals find hard to equal, let alone exceed.
The only engine is a 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel with 252 hp on tap. It needs all that power because the Disco weighs around 2.5 tonnes. Apart from moving off, when you need to push the accelerator hard to gain momentum, once underway you never feel short of power and the general handling is remarkably car-like, despite its bulk.
There are several versions with different equipment levels and ranging from £38,850 to £52,475 for the flagship SDV6 HSE, which was my test model. Even with so much weight and a lack of aerodynamics, the Discovery still gets from 0-60 mph in just 8.8 seconds, putting some hot-hatchbacks to shame. Top speed is 112 mph and the fuel economy is 32.1 combined , almost exactly what I got after a week of varied use.
Pushed hard on the tarmac, the Discovery is superbly composed and retains assurance even on twisty roads. On motorways, its brilliant air suspension copes with even rough surfaces and delivers excellent ride comfort.
Land Rover has improved noise intrusion and vibration quite considerably, the result being a relaxing driving environment. The 8-speed auto transmission is smooth and responsive too. Stability and traction controls and hill descent control are standard, along with full-time four-wheel drive. Off-road, it is genuinely impressive, conquering terrain that would leave some rivals stranded.
The cabin is impressive, with wood and leather and a wealth of technology and luxury equipment. You get a great view of the road, the layout is user-friendly, and seating is extremely comfortable. The Discovery seats seven adults with ease, and with full occupancy, still provides 543 litres of luggage space. Fold the seats and you increase that almost five-fold, to 2,558 litres.
Even the entry GS Discovery is exceptionally well equipped, with standard kit which includes air-conditioning, all-round power windows, Bluetooth and keyless entry. XS models add cruise control, front parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers, leather seats, sat-nav and MP3/USB connectivity.
My test model, the HSE then adds various other kit including wood trim, and a substantially upgraded sound and vision system.
FOR: Outstanding capability on and off-road, excellent standard kit, and Land Rover badge kudos!
AGAINST: rear-view-mirror vision isn’t great due to headrest intrusion, and the wide turning circle – over 11 metres – is sometimes inconvenient.