Had the absolute pleasure of driving the all new Land Rover Discovery on its launch in SA. Being typically Land Rover, it had to be an adventure, and we set off from their training centre for a bush destination, after a comprehensive preview of all the up to date features, by their knowledgable staff.
The Discovery looks great in my opinion, however it has polarized opinion, in that it really does now start resembling the Range Rover. More comparisons will be made later and the jury is out on whether Land Rover are going to cannibalise their own sales of that model. The Discovery is a large SUV, and IS a full seven-seater as well. It looks way more modern than its predecessors, and in doing so, also ushers the Discovery into the digital age very firmly. This car is packed to the hilt with tech and connectivity.
The stepped seating gives everyone a best seat for viewing, in that each row is raised slightly higher than the one before it. A stepped roof also ensures that tall guys sit comfortably in that 3rd row of seats as well.
This is the 5th Generation Discovery, and over 1.2 million customers will attest to the popularity & character of this model. It claims to be safe, comfortable & more adaptable than before. The new look is aimed at attracting new customers by being more varied in its approach.
The new Discovery looks more modern as I said with more rounded curves and the rear end looks like some kind of robot with the asymmetrical lighting design. It is raised to 283mm and the wading depth has also been raised to 600mm. We did an off-road obstacle in a river and it did not leak and was totally on point. Old school customers will have to get used to the new look, but for me it’s a total win.
In the Cabin.
A lot of work has gone into the interior in terms of adding luxury touches, such as the superb Windsor leather seats and the natural oak veneers, these again don’t look old fashioned at all. The 2nd and 3rd row of seats can be easily configured to your spec from controls at the rear of the vehicle. An optional Dynamic design pack gives you a contrast roof, sports inspired steering wheel and sporty pedals.
All rows have heated seats which the family will love, and the drivers and passenger seats have a massage function which is quite frankly, heavenly. A thoughtful feature is the auto ride height adjustment, which can lower or raise the height by up to 40mm to enter or exit the vehicle. It is a tall vehicle, so this helps a lot.
This is a key feature and the Pro-Touch 10-inch infotainment screen which is set in the centre console, gives you up to date crisp graphics, and easy to navigate menus for door to door navigation, or pairing your phone with Android telephony or IOS connectivity. A 14 speaker Meridian sound system sends your tunes through radio or streaming. It has six 12V charging sockets and a whopping seven USB sockets distributed around the vehicle.
Another technology feature for active families is Land Rover’s state-of-the-art Activity Key wristband, which allows customers to enjoy sports and active hobbies without carrying the standard key fob. Holding the waterproof Activity Key up to the ‘D’ in the Discovery badge on the tailgate simultaneously locks the vehicle and disables the ordinary key, which can be left safely inside. This leaves customers free to run, swim, ride or play without worrying about the security of their vehicle.
The Discovery has a plethora of stowage binnacles and corners with 2500 liters of total load capacity and 1231 liters behind row two, which would be the critical analysis. Loved the Inner powered tailgate, but I suppose it won’t suit everyone. Chatting to the entertaining Kingsley Holgate, the adventurous talisman of the Land Rover brand, he said they used the tailgate of the Defender for so many things, amongst them a dining table. But he will be using the new Discovery on a new expedition into ‘’Mama Africa’’ to use his words, very soon. So get used to using a table Sir.
He was wondering about all the new tech, but as he said the old Africa is largely gone now, and Sat phones etc are the order of the day. Other areas of stowage are as follows.
Hidden cubby stowage in the central console capable of holding four iPads or a pair of two-litre drinks bottles.
A central armrest cubby large enough to house five iPads with a lid that hinges through 180 degrees to function as an armrest even when open.
Hidden small-item stowage behind the fold-down Climate Control panel.
A flush-fitting push-operated ‘curry hook’ in the front passenger foot well capable of securing carrier bags.
The jack was easy to find, and we were unfortunate to have gotten two punctures, both in the rear left wheel over the sharp rocky areas. Surprisingly easy to change the large tyres, but the regular jack might offer challenges in sandy stretches, and the hydraulic jack had to come into play.
Off-Road/ Drive Modes.
Of course, a highlight would be taking a legend like the Discovery off-road, and we did just that through a river, where we did not get stuck, did not leak water. And a couple of humped obstacles which the Discovery made short work of. A new one for me was driving through obstacles with a trailer attached (3500kg towing capacity), again no problems. The trailer can be attached very easily by the auto lower and raise function, and it also has a tracking feature to ensure that you stop right at the trailer knob, no mean feat with such a tall vehicle.
A comprehensive array of various modes are available to enhance your off-road experience, and even inexperienced drivers can navigate this. All terrain progress control gives you a no throttle/brakes crawl mode which essentially takes you over any obstacle. I preferred driving myself, but it is an option.
The first day we drove the diesel option, which is so quiet you really can’t tell that is one. Fuel saving was optimum in this one (7.8L/100km), and is probably the pick, due to that alone. It is a six-cylinder Td6 which produces 190kw and 600 Nm of torque.
The 2nd day we drove the 3.0 L V6 petrol version, which was noticeably heavier on fuel where we getting 12L/100km, although we were pushing it a bit back to Jozi. It puts out a creditable 250kw & 450 Nm . Both came with an 8-speed auto gearbox that was very smooth. In terms of power, this variant is a beautiful drive.
Discovery Td6 R 980 000.00
Discovery 3.0 V6 R1,018,000.00
There are a few other more luxurious options but this is the standard pricing.
To sum up the Discovery, it is an imposing SUV which will certainly get the tongues wagging, is it a Disco or not? My opinion is that it is a modern Discovery, that impressed me, and it ticks all the boxes that Land Rover wanted to be ticked. It is safe, comfortable, full of tech and of course , is capable off-road. And lastly, it drives like a car on the road. What more could you want?