The iconic British SUV has been revamped once again for the luxury market. With a sleek new look, generous interior space and cutting-edge connectivity, the Land Rover Discovery has come of age, says Tiff Needell
Back in the mid-1990s, with a fast-growing Needell brood, it seemed obvious that the time had come for a family seven-seater – either a people carrier, as modern-day MPVs were known at the time, or a 4×4, now more commonly called an SUV.
Not overly keen on MPVs – with sliding doors that threatened to act as guillotines and where the open floor plan would see groceries slide from the rear end up under your feet at the front – an SUV seemed the way to go.
There weren’t many proper seven-seat SUVs on the market then, so the obvious choice was Land Rover’s recently launched Discovery. But that had two big problems.
Firstly, only half of it fitted into the garage before the stepped-up roofline for the rear seats ran out of room and, secondly, it required the most delicate of hands with the strongest of grips to unleash those rear seats without causing skinned knuckles and loud swearing. So we bought a Chrysler Voyager instead.
Twenty years later and an all-new fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery has been launched and all my problems are solved. The step-up in the roof has all but disappeared to give a crucial three inches more space and the rear seats can be sorted without even getting in the car – with a smartphone, the Land Rover’s InControl Remote app can rearrange the seating layout before you reach the vehicle.
Sharing its aluminium structure with the new Range Rover, it’s nearly half a tonne lighter than the outgoing model and, despite being slightly lower, has a lot more space inside especially for those full-size, adult-fitting extra seats – though they only have the remote control option on the HSE and Luxury models, not the S or SE versions.
Prices start at £43,495 for the 180hp version of Land Rover’s light Ingenium two-litre diesel, with a 240hp version the next step up, and then a three-litre V6 diesel that adds 18hp. With diesel an embarrassment just now, if you want performance go for the 340hp petrol V6.
Style-wise, the new Discovery has a smoother about-town look than its rough-tough predecessors, with a bold front end and more rounded rear where there is now a single tailgate in place of the more traditional split version that provided a handy picnic seat. A fold-out flap now does that job.
The air suspension gives an excellent ride, and can drop 15mm at speed to reduce drag and by 40mm when stationary to make getting in and out easier.
There are optional premium materials for the interior, plus modern necessities such as Isofix child-seat mounting points for the small ones in the back and USB ports with in-car 3G WiFi hotspot for the not so small.
There are many more extras, with the InControl Touch Pro multimedia system boosting connectivity with whatever needs it, and even an Activity Key, a wristband you can take for a swim and still use to unlock the car.
This new Land Rover Discovery promises something for everyone and is aimed at the luxury car market. Of course it also does off-road better than anything – not that you’d want to take it there.
Watch the new Land Rover Discovery in action, visit landrover.co.uk/vehicles/discovery
Discovery Si6 HSE Luxury specs