We drive the new Land Rover Discovery
It’s seven years since the Land Rover Discovery 4 was launched, now the model welcomes an entirely new look and mostly new feel.
I got along to the Australian launch of the all-new model, not officially called ‘Discovery 5’ and came away of the belief that the latest model will continue on as a popular offering among a varied group of buyers.
The important things to know about the new model:
- It’s lighter – weighing up to a mammoth 480kg less than previous generation thanks to an all new aluminium chassis/body.
- Engines – two turbo-diesel four-cylinder units and a turbo-diesel V6.
- Extra wading depth – now 900mm, up from 700mm.
- Safety – ISOFIX attachments in rows two and three.
- Off-road – Switchable low range up to 60km/h, 283mm ground clearance and improved approach and departure angles.
- Extra space – 38mm longer wheelbase stretches rear seat legroom.
- New feature – a powered inner tailgate that not only stops items rolling out of the cargo area, but can also be used as a seat (holding up to 300kg).
- Additional storage areas – up to 21 spots with 45 litres total capacity.
I had a reasonably extensive drive of the new Discovery on the highways around Ayers Rock/Uluru and then we tested the new model on some fairly tough off-road tracks.
Overall, yes, the new Land Rover Discovery is a pleasant vehicle to drive.
The V6 turbo-diesel engine, which I had the most exposure to on the launch, moves the Land Rover along respectably well.
However, I suspect the twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel will be the big seller.
I’m looking forward to being able to better compare the engines in more familiar surroundings.
There is some wind noise around the windscreen at around 100km/h and above.
The air suspension tends to allow for perhaps just a bit too much body roll in the bends for my liking.
The ride though, on and off-road, is excellent.
I was a bit disappointed with the steering, I found it felt a bit vague on centre.
Off-road, even with the suspension set at maximum height, there was the odd bottom-out when crawling over the firm sandy type dunes of the area.
I thought the hill descent control could also kick in just a bit sooner too.
The system, albeit only used on fairly small hills on this test drive, seemed to allow the vehicle to ‘coast’ before really kicking in and being felt.
There was also a rattle, I presume from the tailgate, when driving at speeds on corrugated roads.
While you might find that the steering wheel is a little on the large size, and perhaps a bit thin (a surprise given the Disco used to be the king of thick steering wheels! Series One/Two).
Inside the cabin, I have to say I am concerned about access to the third-row.
The middle-row seats fold and then slide forward (as the video below shows), I found getting into the last row, saying this as around an average size adult male, difficult.
Perhaps a tumble-type seat design would be better?
You might say that seats 6 + 7 really are only for children, however Land Rover did point out that there is enough headroom back there for adults (and there is).
When you do make your way into the very rear, all up, space is adequate and this is especially due to the ability to slide your feet under the middle-row seats.
Naturally, as is the case with just about all seven-seat SUVs, cargo space with the third-row in use is minimal.
I was also a touch disappointed by just a couple of finishing touches in the new Land Rover Discovery.
For example, where the third-row headrests go into the seat there is no plastic surround, just the open leather tucked into the holes.
This is at odds with the headrests in rows two that are nicely finished with proper surrounds.
As is the case with all Jaguar/Land Rover models in 2017 you also have to contend with the dial-type transmission selector and this is something not everyone warms to, me included.
While the upper glove box function is strange – you press a button just above the fold down door and the door pops open, you then have to lever your fingers in to open it.
Strangely, it doesn’t stay open, wanting instead to spring back to the semi-open position, requiring you then to push it shut.
A lack of seat-belt height adjustment on the B pillars for front row passengers could also affect comfort.
Speaking of the B pillars and passenger/driver comfort – there is a weird design here that sees the pillars jut out and that makes for very little space between pillar and seat – so no putting your hand down there.
But the issue is that it tends to impede on elbow space.
Another comfort issue that I found related to the door arm rests (seen below).
These are a weird design featuring a chunky styling/highlight strip just above and this prevents you from really getting your arm fully onto the arm rest.
I would also suggest that you get your Land Rover dealer to give you a good walk-through of the 4×4 system and the infotainment system before you drive off home, both are just a little complex.
Speaking of that 4×4 system, you might find the centre console control system just a bit confusing/distracting as well.
Right, on the other side of the ledger, here are the good things I observed.
There’s a couple of really handy and well executed hidden storage spots inside the cabin that you probably would NEVER find if you didn’t know they were there.
One is located under the cup holders and can accommodate things like computer tablets etc.
The second is behind the climate control panel.
I really liked this clever news feed reader function as well, check it out in operation here…
Giving you the choice of CNN and Reuters news feeds, including entertainment, sport, business etc., it is very easy to stay up to date (and you don’t need to wait until the top of the hour for a radio news update).
I really like all the USB and power outlets scattered around the cabin, especially the power outlet bank under the centre console bin lid.
Cabin storage areas are also generally better than average and keep your eyes peeled for a clever little hook in the passenger foot well that allows you to secure a bag.
The steering wheel controls, which carry over from the old model, are also simple and really well placed.
The aforementioned inner rear tailgate is a smart addition (as seen below).
Land Rover has also put some thought into the wing-mirrors on the new Discovery and these are sizeable and functional.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is also adequate, the A pillars are chunky, but angled in such a way as to minimize visibility blockages.
Summing it up; the new Land Rover Discovery is an extremely capable off-roader that is family friendly and soft enough for even the most discerning customers.
As pointed out, in my opinion, there are a few issues that take some shine off, especially the third-row access and B pillar/arm rest comfort issues.
I’ll leave it up to you though, test drive an all-new Discovery now at your local Land Rover dealership.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2018 Land Rover Discovery
Engines: 2.0 litre turbo-diesel producing 132kW/430Nm, 2.0 litre twin-turbo-diesel producing 177kW/500Nm and 3.0 litre V6 turbo-diesel producing 190kW/600Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic (across the range)
Safety: Five stars
Origin: United Kingdom
Price: from $69,960