It may not have its roots as old as the big daddy of luxury SUVs – the Range Rover; however, the Land Rover Discovery is a legend in itself. Highly practical and with genuine go-anywhere ability, the Discovery has been a conclusive choice of many a luxury SUV buyers who dare to take their expensive ride off-road and onto the beaten path. All-new for 2017, the Discovery has changed radically and appears a lot more upmarket than the unambiguously old-school previous gen model. Here’s what you get.
Measuring nearly 5 meters in length and riding 1,846mm off the ground, the new Discovery is one of the largest vehicles money can buy. And now with all its Range Rover-like styling cues, it no longer looks utilitarian or old-school. As against the old car’s top-heavy stance and boxy lines, the 2017 model looks different but is still unmistakably a Discovery. After all, it retains some of the design features like the distinctive stepped roofline and a rather high waistline.
At the back you will find a new single-piece tailgate design, which has replaced the previous horizontally split configuration. The taillights, too, are now stacked horizontally and look particularly sporty. Lastly, the offset rear number plate is a clear nod to previous-gen Discos; however, we aren’t too fond of the layout simply because it looks rather odd without a tailgate mounted spare wheel – something that the original model came with. All in all, the new car seems like a design revolution for the Discovery family – the taut bodywork highlights the enhanced volume and the more contemporary look pretty nicely.
The Discovery’s cabin is all about practicality, one with multiple usable storage spaces. Other than the usual array of glove boxes and door pockets, it gets a large storage box behind the rotary gear selector. There’s even a fairly big cool box under the front armrest which is a really neat feature. Lastly, there’s the hugely configurable seating arrangement in the 7-seater variant as all three rows are electrically adjustable.
Being a tall vehicle, the Discovery offers excellent all-round visibility and a driving position that is more than high enough for that commanding view of the road. As for the seat comfort, the front seats are massive and offer immense side support and even under-thigh support – they are large enough to keep you comfortable for long hauls.
Similarly, there is plenty of room at the back, with a rear bench that is broad and spacious enough to accommodate three adults easily. Thanks to the Disco’s width, there is hardly any jostling for shoulder room or that feeling of being pushed onto the doors. Although the rear bench is set a tad bit low, it is superbly contoured and the low seating translates to plenty of headroom. Sadly, this new model cannot match its predecessor when it comes to third-row seating comfort – the pair of seats is smaller and to make matters worse, there’s noticeably less thigh support.
As for the features, the Discovery is fully loaded and comes with a 14-speaker premium multimedia system, adaptive LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, 360-degree parking, a head-up display, 4-zone climate control, interior mood lighting and a tonne of safety tech. However, we would like to add that a lot of features from the spec list are optional extras.
Featuring a new aluminium chassis and body panels made from similar materials, the Discovery has managed to shed nearly 480kg over its predecessor. However, at over 2.1 tonnes for this petrol-powered version, it is still a heavy car. Under the long hood sits a supercharged 3-litre V6 developing 340bhp and 450Nm of torque. It’s got more than enough punch to get the Disco up to speed and keep it there without struggling. The surprisingly effortless acceleration is aided by the brilliant 8-speed ZF gearbox that delivers creamy smooth yet quick gearshifts.
The new Discovery isn’t as nice or sporty to drive as say a BMW X5 but there is no doubting the fact that it behaves noticeably better around corners compared to its predecessor – the steering is less vague and the whole car is more reactive to steering inputs. Make no mistake, the Disco still rolls a lot and feels spongy around corners but it completely demolishes bad roads.
It has an inherent ability to iron out even the sharpest of bumps and rutted imperfections with ease. Better still, the jolts typically experienced in full-size traditional SUVs are next to none. All in all, the Discovery remains thoroughly composed at low speeds but at highway speeds, there is constant vertical movement and that wallowy feeling that air suspension-equipped cars are bundled with.
A lot of the buyers are unlikely to take their Discovery off-road, but it is reassuring to know that it is more than capable at dealing with rough stuff. As standard, you get a two-speed transfer box that offers selectable high and low range gears. The system offers a standard 50/50 torque split between front and rear wheels, but uses sensors to distribute torque between the wheels depending on slippage. It’s a 'shift on the move' system which allows the driver to swap between high and low ratios without having to stop the vehicle, at speeds of up to 60kmph.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||335bhp @ 6500rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||450Nm @ 3500rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||89|
|Tyre size||255/55 R20|
|10-inch touchscreen display||Yes|
|Adaptive LED headlights||Yes|
|Land Rover Terrain Response System||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||3.0 HSE||xDrive Pure Experience|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||335bhp @ 6500rpm||306bhp @ 5800rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||450Nm @ 3500rpm||450Nm @ 3500rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||89||85|
|Tyre size||255/55 R20||255/50 R19|
The 2017 Discovery takes most of the old model’s traditional qualities – an immensely practical interior, long list of features and off-road hardware – and abbreviates them into a convincing premium SUV. At Rs 1.30 crore (on-road, Mumbai) for the top-spec diesel version, it’s not cheap and next to other European flagship SUVs, it doesn’t look as flamboyant either, however, if you are looking for a family SUV with a versatile cabin and legitimate go-anywhere capability, the new Discovery is difficult to not recommend.
Photos By Ameya Dandekar