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On-test: Land Rover's latest Discovery blurrs the lines

Land Rover’s latest Discovery features all the bells and whistles when it comes to a luxury 4x4, but is it too far gone from its ancestors’ on-farm popularity. Geoff Ashcroft finds out more.

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The latest Discovery has been smoothed-off and lightened – a bit too much we think.

Wherever there is change, there is likely to be resistance. And so it might prove with Land Rover’s latest version of the Discovery.

 

The Disco has been on sale for about 27 years, doing a cracking job bridging the gap between the now defunct Defender and the luxurious Range Rover versions.

NEED TO KNOW:

  • Model: Discovery TD6 HSE Luxury
  • Price: £64,195 (£75,570 as tested)
  • Engine: 3.0-litre turbo diesel, 258hp, 600Nm @ 1,750rpm
  • Transmission: eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
  • Performance: 7.7sec 0-62mph, 130mph, 39.2mpg combined, Euro 6 emissions
  • Towing capacity: 3,500kgs

In its latest guise, this fifth-generation Disco has turned its back on boxy looks in favour of a curvy new stance, mimicking the smaller Discovery Sport. It is still practical and generously roomy, but it has become acutely refined.

 

It also combines a gawky rear-end overhang with a number plate design which will sit awkwardly among those who face challenges with OCD.

 

The Disco has taken a large step towards the premium end of the market – perhaps a larger step than it needed to. And the interior reflects this approach with a great driving position and soft, comfortable seats.

Full height tailgate hides a fold-down shelf.

If you replaced the Discovery badge on the steering wheel with one which stated Range Rover, you would be hard-pressed to know any difference.

 

It is a point reinforced by the price-tag of this V6-powered HSE Luxury-spec model, which starts from £64,000.

It is a modest performer which is smooth and polished thanks to its eight-speed auto box, but it is not brisk. At just 254hp, it is pegged back from the RR Sport’s 300hp-plus power output from the same engine.

 

The old model’s heavy chassis has made way for lighter aluminium parts, shaving a few hundred kilos off the kerb weight.

Interior is full of surprises and laden with tech.

On-road, I found the ride to be a touch soft, with more than enough body roll served up through the corners despite the lightening of its chassis. And at times, the damping lacked refinement over everyday road bumps, giving you an occasional thump.

 

Switching to Sport mode stopped the Disco feeling like a pig on stilts, though the extra eagerness dished out by the powertrain meant fuel economy took a dive to 31mpg.

 

Off-road performance has not been compromised at all and terrain response makes it easy to outdrive your off-road capability.

 

In fact, the Disco is bristling with a level of advanced tech which you would associate with a premium 4x4. The sat-nav and infotainment system is a big step forward and the cabin serves up more storage space than a network of tunnels under the Alps.

AdBlue filler is tucked away, but without a gauge on the dashboard you will see only three warnings. Run it empty and the vehicle will not start.

An electrically-powered third row of seats lets you easily swap between load space and passenger carrying, but they still need to have practiced at Twister to negotiate access.

 

There are lower priced models in the line-up and you can take your full-fat Disco as a 240hp four-pot model for about £43,000.

 

Regardless of where you stand on the new Discovery’s looks, its breadth of talent is as enormous as its price. We suspect it is too close to the Range Rover Sport and too far from more down-to-earth competitors to be taken as seriously as its predecessor.

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