What is it?
The new Land Rover Discovery has been around a little while now and, like or loathe the way it looks, it’s been immensely popular. It’s capable of seating seven in comfort yet able to conquer nearly any type of terrain, so there’s little wonder why it’s been snapped up by consumers.
Initially offered with a range of traditional diesel and petrol engines there’s now a new powertrain, and it uses Land Rover’s 2.0-litre petrol ‘Ingenium’ unit. It may appear, on paper at least, that this engine is too small to carry along the heavy Discovery, but is that the case?
The biggest change here is the engine. We’ve previously seen this small capacity petrol engine used in a variety of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles, in an attempt to combat the growing distrust of diesel units.
Elsewhere, it’s business as usual. The Discovery still gets seven useable seats that can fold completely flat, as well as a full suite of driver aids to ensure that no weather or obstacle can stop you from getting where you need to go.
How does it look?
Make no mistake, the Discovery’s looks have caused debate since the moment it was first released. Some love its rounded, softer look – particularly compared to the model it replaces – while others downright loathe the car’s styling, and have thrown much criticism at the awkwardly offset placement of the rear number plate.
It’s impactful out on the road – although any car of this sheer size is going to be – and the large alloy wheels are just the right size so as to counteract the huge amount of metal that makes up the Discovery’s body.
What’s the spec like?
Our test car came in Luxury trim, which meant that it was adorned with plenty of equipment as standard. A full ten-inch colour touchscreen came fitted as it does on all Discos, and this houses functions such as satellite navigation and media. It’s not a bad system, with icons that are clear and easy to understand, but it lacks some of the crispness that you get in rival offerings. That said, simple operations such as pairing your phone or playing a song from a media device are easy enough to do.
Of course, the devil is in the details. Those details, in this case, are optional extras, and those fitted to our test car weigh heavy on the car’s overall price. That heated steering wheel? £200. Grey metallic paint? £850. The Discovery comes relatively well specified as standard, but start ticking too many boxes and you’ll quickly find the price creeping skywards.
What’s it like inside?
The interior of the Discovery is an impressive blend of form and function. There’s tech here – that’s for sure – with features such as heated and cooled seats, and a heated steering wheel all included on our test car. Up front, it’s a comfortable and spacious place to be, with the seats providing plenty of support, while those in the middle row are equally well-off for space.
Anyone in the rearmost seats should be happy, though taller passengers will likely be best sat there for shorter journeys. Children will be just fine here though, and – in truth – most average-height adults will be too – there’s a surprising amount of legroom.
If you’re needing as much luggage space as possible then both second and third rows fold completely flat, offering up a gargantuan 2,406 litres of luggage room.
What’s under the bonnet?
This new Ingenium engine is, at 2.0-litres, the smallest capacity drivetrain offering you can get on the Discovery. It’s paralleled by a diesel version – though it’s the petrol that we have with us here. It produces 300hp and an impressive 400Nm of torque, which means it’s able to get the two-tonne Disco up to 60mph in a reasonable 7.3 seconds and onwards to a top speed of 125mph.
Of course, a by-product of a smaller engine working hard to lug a big, heavy body around is that it hurts fuel economy. Land Rover claims that this version will return 29.4mpg on the combined cycle, though in daily driving we achieved closer to 22mpg. Emissions are, again, as you’d expect for a large SUV, sitting at 222g/km of CO2.
What’s it like to drive?
The Discovery doesn’t encourage spirited driving – it’s far too big and heavy for that. Rather, it’s at its best when you sit back and soak up the comfort rather than put your foot down.
Any attempt at pushing it down a tight back road is soon quashed by copious body roll, slow steering and of course, its sheer size. It’s not as ponderous as you might expect, though, and will certainly show a clean pair of heels to most similarly-sized SUVs.
The Discovery flattens out potholes and makes mincemeat of choppy road surfaces. The price to pay is some wallowing over larger bumps, though the air suspension takes off all the hard edges with ease.
The woeful fuel economy of this 2.0-litre petrol engine will be, for most, a serious sticking point and a barrier to ownership. The car still feels at its best with diesel power, and that’s where we’d recommend the majority of buyers stay.
Also bearing in mind is Land Rover’s rather lamentable reputation for reliability, with the company ranked at or near the bottom of independent surveys on a far-too regular basis.
The rest of the Discovery is still a hugely compelling package, though – it’s hugely comfortable, unbeatable off-road, spacious and premium. As big family SUVs go, they don’t get much better than this.
Model as tested: Land Rover Discovery Si4
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol
Power: 300 hp
Torque: 400 Nm
Top speed: 125 mph
0-60mph: 7.3 seconds
Fuel consumption (combined): 29.4 mpg
CO2 emissions: 222 g/km