New-gen Land Rover Discovery review
When it comes to making SUVs that are capable of taking on almost any terrain, Land Rover is a brand that features on the top of that list. The new age Land Rovers might look radically different from the earlier gen models, however, they do carry the characteristic traits of being purpose built SUVs. The British brand recently added the fifth generation Discovery to its sprawling portfolio of SUVs. In addition to the all-new design and feature rich interiors, the new-gen Land Rover Discovery is built on the brand's lightweight architecture that makes it more capable than ever before. We put all those claims to a test in our road test report.
Out of the box
I am a big fan of the boxy design of the LR4 for it had a unique appeal. The new-age Land Rover Discovery ditches that for a more sleeker design, drawing inspiration from the new Range Rover. While the traditional might not like that, one must understand that the new design has made the Discovery more aerodynamic than before, which means better dynamics and higher fuel efficiency. The sleek twin-slat grille flows in line with the sleek LED wrap around headlights. The bumper gets a busier profile with vertical air intakes and a large central air dam. The clamshell bonnet, stepped roof and the inclined C-pillars are some of the design elements taken from the previous model. The same can be seen with the the off-centre number plate plinth. Dimensionally, the new Discovery is longer, wider and has a longer wheelbase of 2923mm as compared to the LR4. Even the ground clearance has been increased to 283mm while the water wading depth too has been increased to 900mm.
The cabin of the new Discovery is as plush and premium as you'd expect from a typical Land Rover SUV. Be it the leather-wrapped steering wheel with brushed aluminium inserts, the soft touch dashboard trims, the knurled gear shifter or the twin panoramic sunroof, all of that makes the Discovery more upmarket and premium than the LR4. The HSE variant comes equipped with a large 10-inch infotainment screen with a host of entertainment, navigation as well as seat comfort options. Presently, the system doesn't come with CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity options in India. One can also opt for the 14-speaker Meridian surround sound system on the HSE variant which makes the overall cabin experience even better.
The throne like front seats give a commanding view of the surroundings. The front row occupants will enjoy the generous headroom, legroom and the shoulder room along with the supportive and comfortable seats. While the same is the case with the second row seats, they are positioned comparatively lower. Also, the front seats get entertainment screens on the back of the headrest, that combined with the lower position of the seats might hamper the front visibility of the second row occupants. The third row seats are reasonably spacious, though it is best reserved for kids or additional luggage. In terms of convenience, the first row seats are power adjustable, while the second row gets an electrically adjustable backrest. It can be physically pushed ahead for additional space for the third row occupants. The second and the third row seats can also be folded completely with the help of master switches placed in the boot.
One particular aspect of the new Discovery that you cannot possibly ignore is the number of clever storage options. There is a dual-compartment glove box, a cubby with an optional chiller unit that can hold a 1-litre container, cup holders with additional storage beneath and a smart storage pocket behind the climate control unit. This is in addition to the regular pockets and provisions on the door trims and the rear armrest. The boot space can be extended to a maximum of 2500 litres with only the front seats up.
The Land Rover Discovery comes with a 3-litre turbo diesel that makes 260PS/600Nm. However, if you want more power, there is the 3-litre V6 supercharged petrol that makes 340PS at 6,500rpm and generates 450Nm at 3,500 - 5,000rpm. Both the units are mated to a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. The Land Rover guys sent the petrol Disco' for this test, and we weren't complaining. Get the motor to a boil and you would instantly fall in love with the note it makes and would end up being addicted to it. The petrol motor in the Discovery is the same that does duty in the Jaguar F-Type V6, except that the state of tune is different.
Step on the throttle and the way this two-storey SUV starts moving linearly is impressive. Move past the lower revs and cross 4,500rpm, the exhaust note gets a lot sweeter. All the Discovery craves for is an empty patch where you can truly experience the full potential of the motor with the V6 screaming all the way to 6,500rpm. On the expressway, the Disco' can effortlessly cruise at higher than usual triple digit speeds. We managed to make the Discovery reach the 100kmph mark in 8.1s. The kickdown at higher speeds is truly impressive and does come in handy during overtaking maneuvers. Supporting the motor is the lightweight 8-speed automatic transmission which helps unleash the maximum out of the motor with extremely precise and quick shifts.
Like to move it
Wherever I took the Disco in Mumbai, everyone just made way for me making me feel like the Pope. The giant dimensions of the Discovery is truly intimidating and makes you wonder about its handling. However, get inside and the story changes. The new Disco' has chucked the steel ladder frame for a modern aluminium monocoque body, making it lighter by 480kg, roughly the weight of five adults. This also played a big role in improving the efficiency of the SUV. Additionally, the components of the suspension are made from lightweight aluminium. The Discovery employs double wishbone at front and a multi-link at the rear. The SUV literally glides over the undulations and uneven surfaces, keeping the cabin inert from the disturbances caused by the surface. And that is because of the new Terrain Response system that automatically selects the driving mode according to the surface the SUV is driven on.
Even at higher speeds, in spite of the Discovery being a tall SUV, the firm setup holds onto the tarmac while cornering at high speeds with negligible body roll. This can be credited to DSC that reduces the engine torque and selectively applies brakes to counteract understeer or oversteer. Bringing the giant to a standstill isn't much of a task either with the 360mm front and 350mm rear disc brakes - 100-0kmph in 3.5s. The Disco gets different drive modes that basically alters the transmission, suspension and the traction settings. Also, there is a dedicated low range mode to maneuver over low-traction surfaces. We did decent levels of off-roading in the Disco and the amount of confidence that the SUV offers is really impressive. It just doesn't stop and keeps crawling over anything that comes in its way.
What really impressed us about the new Discovery that it is not just an improved iteration but is now closer to the flagship Range Rover. The new-age Discovery comes loaded with tech to spoil you with convenience as well as keep you safe with features like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and driver condition monitoring. However, it is the supercharged V6 that keeps you going. And that is what I am going to do till Land Rover guys come and snatch the keys away from me.