2017 Land Rover Discovery First Drive | Real Room For Seven In...

2017 Land Rover Discovery First Drive | Real Room For Seven In A Lighter, More High-Tech Package

Land Rover has gambled with the Discovery’s future by giving the all-new model a more friendly face and an overall style that’s more approachable and less chiselled than the model it replaces.

Long-time Discovery supporters have voiced their opposition, but it seems Land Rover made the right choice, with the new-generation car having already accrued 700 pre-orders in Australia an over 20,000 around the world.

The move also sees the new model shed weight and adopt smaller engines – all more suburban-friendly moves – but at the local launch of the new Discovery in the Australian outback the brand is keen to prove its new family-freighter isn’t afraid of a rough-and-tumble adventure.

Vehicle Style: Prestige large SUV
Price: $65,960 – $131,870 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans:132kW/430Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo diesel, 177kW/500Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo diesel, 190kW/600Nm 3.0-litre 6cyl turbo diesel | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.2-7.2 l/100km

OVERVIEW

A big country deserves a big range of SUVs, right? That seems to be how Land Rover has approached the Discovery line-up, with five- and seven-seat models, four full-time trim levels, three available engines and a luxed-up First Edition model that ticks all the prestige boxes.

The range opens with the Discovery S, priced from a very sensible $65,960 before moving up to the Discovery SE, Discovery HSE, and range-topping HSE Luxury. Those full-time models can be ordered with either five seats, or seven and all are available with a choice of new 2.0-litre four cylinder 132kW/400Nm Td4, or 177kW/500Nm Sd4, engines or a carry-over 3.0-litre Td6 turbo diesel V6 with 190kW and 600Nm.

Early adopters can also jump into a fully-laden First Edition, available only with the most powerful Td6 engine from $131,870 plus on-roads.

All models feature 4×4, though only the SE and above come with a properly off-roadable low-range transmission and variable-height air suspension as standard, though both features can be added to the S as options. Land Rover’s clever Terrain Response 2 multi-mode off-road system is also available as an option on the SE and above in conjunction with the Sd4 and Td6 engines only.

THE INTERIOR

  • Discovery S: Cloth trim, dual zone manual climate control, multi-function trip computer, cruise control with speed limiter, heated mirrors, 19-inch alloy wheels
  • Discovery SE: Leather trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, auto-on LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding mirrors
  • Discovery HSE: Three-zone climate control, powered tailgate, keyless entry and start, electrically adjustable steering column, 20-inch alloy wheels
  • Discovery HSE Luxury: Dual-pane sunroof, heated and cooled front seats, extended leather trim for dash and doors, interior mood lighting, cooled centre console, gesture-controlled tailgate
  • Infotainment: 8.0-10 inch touchscreen, 6-14 speakers, available satellite navigation, optional DAB+ digital radio, multiple USB and 12v points

Land Rover has evolved the interior of the previous Discovery for this new model. A glance at the themes are similar, but everything has become cleaner and more refined in appearance with hints of Range Rover into the mix

Vitally for an SUV of its size, there’s plenty of room for passengers and gear. It’s no surprise to find that the first and second rows are spacious, but tick the seven-seat option and the third row genuinely surprises for head and knee space, where most other SUVs tend to scrimp on both.

Clambering into the back can still be cumbersome, but once settled the available space more than makes up for it.

A trip through the equipment list would be enough to make the average punter giddy – as with the other models in the Jaguar, Land Rover, and Range Rover ranges there’s a monstrous array of optional extras if you’re prepared to add it.

The most spectacular option is possibly the Remote Intelligent Seat Fold Pack, which as the name suggest allows all seven seats to be reconfigured electrically, and remotely via a smartphone app, or via switches in the vehicle, or the touchscreen up front.

Without delving into the options (though it seems that might be an impossibility) the Discovery S comes with cloth trim, 8.0-inch infotainment, six-speaker audio, dual-zone climate control, halogen headlights and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Discover SE adds satellite navigation, leather trim, auto wipers, heated power-folding mirrors, and 10-speaker sound. The HSE upgrades to three-zone climate control, 20-inch alloys, keyless entry a powered tailgate, premium 10-speaker audio and a 10-inch infotainment screen.

At the top of the range the HSE Luxury adds a dual-pane sunroof with opening front section, heated and cooled front seats, better leather trim and extra front seat adjustments, digital TV, LED ambient lighting, a gesture controlled tailgate, and surround-view cameras.

Get in quickly and the Discovery First Edition bundles in even more with heating and cooling for the first and second row seats, 21-inch alloy wheels, Activity Key, Terrain Response 2 off-road system, intelligent seat folding and seven seats as standard.

ON THE ROAD

  • Td4: 2.0-litre Ingenium four-cylinder turbo diesel, 132kW @4000rpm, 430Nm @1750rpm
  • Sd4: 2.0-litre Ingenium four-cylinder turbo diesel, 177kW @4000rpm, 500Nm @1500-2500rpm
  • Td6: 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel, 190kW @4000rpm, 600Nm @1750-2250rpm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, full-time four wheel drive, available low-range 4×4
  • Suspension: Double wishbone front, multi-link independent rear, availble adaptive air suspension
  • Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes
  • Steering: Electric power steering, 12.3m turning circle
  • Towing Capacity: 3000kg braked (Td4) 3500 kg braked (Sd4, Td6), 750kg unbraked

Thanks to a much more sophisticated aluminium platform, shared with the range Rover Sport, the new Discovery sheds a staggering 480 kilograms when compared with its predecessor.

The sudden weight loss pays dividends for handling and fuel efficiency – all the more so when coupled with the new, downsized four-cylinder engines that have only been made possible by the lower kerb weight.

Available in two states of tune the new Ingenium diesel engines both measure 2.0-litres with a base-level 132kW/400Nm Td4 version and a more willing 177kW/500Nm Sd4 version. The range is topped by a lightly refreshed 190kW/600Nm 3.0-litre Td4 V6 diesel carried over from the previous model.

Although its performance is only modest, the Td4 engine doesn’t really feel out of its depth in relaxed conditions powering the Discovery.Its 0-100km/h acceleration is faster than the old Td6 at 10.5 seconds, that said the more willing Sd4 is the better option. Acceleration isn’t breathtaking at 8.3 seconds for the 0-100 km/h dash, slowed by a moment of initial lag.

By far the most comfortable fit is the Td6 engine, only 0.2 seconds quicker than the Sd4 on paper, but more responsive at every point in the rev range, and able to pile on speed more effortlessly when an extra burst of acceleration is called for.

Land Rover introduced the Australian motoring media to the new Discovery in the outback near Uluru, keen to demonstrate that the new generation has lost none of its off-road ability. Conditions weren’t exactly rugged but over loose sand, shallow water crossings, and mogul fields the Discovery didn’t put a foot wrong.

When equipped with air suspension the Discovery can elevate to a maximum 283mm ground clearance, with 500mm of wheel articulation, and a serious wading depth of up to 900mm.

While all of Land rover’s marketing material might suggest rock-hopping credentials, the truth is most will be destined for a life of on-road duties. On the tarmac the Discovery was suitably smooth and quiet – the V6 marginally more noisy, but overall refinement impressed.

Handling isn’t as sharp as some more road-focussed SUVs, but conditions didn’t allow us to explore that fully. Initial impressions suggest bodyroll and a tall centre of gravity may still linger, despite the Discovery’s promise of being lighter and more agile.

SAFETY

ANCAP Rating: 5 Stars – the Land Rover Discovery scored the maximum 5 star rating based on crash data obtained by Euro NCAP and analysed by ANCAP in 2017.

Safety Features: Driver and front passenger airbags, front thorax airbags, full-length curtain airbags, seatbelt pretensioners in all rows, electronic stability and traction control, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, and rear view camera are standard across the range.

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: Three years/100,000km

Servicing: Ingenium-powered models require servicing every two years and 34,000km, the Td6 engine retains 12 month/26,000km intervals (whichever comes first). Your local dealer can provide more information about pricing and available service plans.

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

Although hardcore Land Rover fans might be upset that the new Discovery no longer has the forcefully butch brick-on-wheels styling of the old model, the softer styling approach is likely to attract a wider buyer base than ever before.

Four wheel driving fans can still find the right fit for out-of-the-way adventures via the available equipment on offer, but city-dwellers that like the taller ride height and interior flexibility of an SUV get a better deal – particularly those interested in actually using the third row seats often.

Improved efficiency, refinement, and ergonomics herald the biggest change for the new Discovery and those are improvements that every buyer can appreciate.

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