RAC Cars News


Land Rover Discovery prototype first drive

By raccars Published


Land Rover gives us an early drive of what could be one of the star new cars of 2017 – the brand new Discovery SUV

Land Rover Discovery TD6 SE (prototype)

Price: £50,995 (range starts from £43,495)

Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel

Power: 258hp

Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic

0-62mph: 7.7seconds

Top speed: 130mph

Fuel economy: 39.2mpg

CO2: 189g/km

On sale: February 2017


Three 2017 Land Rover Discovery facts

1: The new Discovery seven-seat 4x4 is almost half a tonne lighter than the old one: it uses the same aluminium platform as the latest Range Rover

2: Land Rover offers a choice of three engines with the new Discovery – V6 petrol and diesel plus, for the first time, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel

3: Prices start from just over £43,000, placing it in direct competition with the Audi Q7, Volvo XC90 and BMW X5

What is it?

The new Land Rover Discovery is a long-awaited reinvention from the British 4x4 firm. The previous Discovery has been around since 2009, and the Discovery 3 it was derived from dates right back to 2004. It was ripe for replacement, particularly as newer models such as the Audi Q7 had begun to sway Discovery traditionalists. This is Land Rover’s well-considered response.

The firm has had a tricky job on its hands. It had to make the Discovery more car-like and manageable on the road, with the sort of refinement those used to refined alternatives like the Volvo XC90 have become accustomed to. But Land Rover also had to improve upon the Discovery 4’s already-brilliant off-road ability. A tall order indeed.

The model it’s preparing to launch in dealers from 2017 is its response. Years in development, it’s again a full-size seven-seater large SUV that’s now built upon the same all-aluminium platform as the new Range Rover – giving it instant premium kudos.

Packed with the latest JLR technology including cutting-edge infotainment connectivity, on paper it’s a formidable challenger to the class order. Because we can’t wait to drive it, Land Rover gave us an early taste of what it’s like during a special off-road session in Scotland. What can we look forward to from the new 2017 Land Rover Discovery?



Land Rover Discovery Styling and interior

The fifth-generation Discovery has a sleek new look that’s very Range Rover-like. First seen on the smaller Discovery Sport, the appearance is a complete step-change from the Tonka toy-like Discovery 4, and traditionalists will take time to get used to it.

But this smooth new style is much more consumer-friendly, reflecting the sophisticated look of rivals such as the big Audi. And if you’re going to take styling cues from anything, why not make it the posh Range Rover? The finish is also flawless, making the new Discovery look like a genuine luxury machine.

There are some traditional Discovery styling cues: the stepped roof, the kick-back in the rear C-pillar, the asymmetrical rear end with offset licence plate. But it’s not a car bound by its past as Land Rover looks to reinvent the Discovery and broaden its appeal. And there’s no better example of how successful it’s been here than inside.

The interior is magnificent. If you thought the outside was Range Rover-like, wait until you step up inside. Tall, commanding, light and airy, quality has taken a quantum leap forward. There are fewer buttons, a smart new touchscreen interface, soft leather everywhere…it’s fantastic and oozes showroom appeal.

It’s enormous as well. This is a genuine seven-seater, seating seven adults across three rows. All seats are premium-grade, there’s space and practicality and details such as including a USB socket for every passenger and the option of heated seats for all three rows makes it the perfect car for non-drivers.

There’s plenty more to explore within the new Discovery, and we can’t wait to get it out on the road to properly indulge in everything it has to offer.

Land Rover Discovery Performance

We’ve only driven the new Discovery off-road, but can already report with confidence it’s class-leading here. We spent a day trekking through some of the most off-grid conditions Perthshire has to offer, and not once did the Discovery get stranded. You may not have been able to walk it, but the Discovery easily drove it.

Permanent four-wheel drive is enhanced by Land Rover’s active Terrain Response 2 system. This auto-senses the surfaces below and adjusts the electronics accordingly. Standard air suspension is also height-adjustable, and can go right onto its tip-toes for extreme off-roading.

Land Rover claims some remarkable statistics for the new Discovery. It has a guaranteed wading depth of 900mm, fully 200mm more than the old car. It has half a metre of wheel articulation, and ground clearance is a mighty 283mm. This is capability way beyond what most people will utilise, and is an example of just what a brilliant off-roader the new Discovery is.

It’s a comfortable one too. The ride is far from the bone-shaking off-roader of old. You can even get off-road cruise control, that maintains a set speed no matter how monstrous the terrain is below. With ample power from the refined V6 engine, we can’t remember a car that was so easy to drive off-road – factor in the extreme terrain we drove it on and the new Discovery is frankly amazing.

Land Rover Discovery Price and value

Land Rover is targeting the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90 with the new Discovery. Entry-level prices are very keen – from £43,495 for the 2.0 SD4 S. This undercuts the Audi by a big margin, although in fairness the Q7 does have a V6 engine as its entry-level: the base TD6 Discovery SE is £50,995.

All Land Rover Discovery get all the essentials you need for heavy-duty off-roading, including Terrain Response 2 and four-corner air suspension. You need SE to get the full suite of standard kit you expect though: it has InControl Touch sat nav, leather upholstery, LED headlights and all-round parking sensors.

Land Rover also offers HSE, HSE Luxury and First Edition models: it is possible to spend over £68,000 on a new Discovery, which is only around £8,000 shy of a Range Rover… unless you need a super-luxurious seven-seat SUV, we’d probably stick with SE or HSE at a push. These models offer best value overall.


Land Rover Discovery Fuel economy

The new Discovery is much more economical the old one, particularly the 2.0-litre SD4. In base guise, this engine is capable of averaging 43.5mpg, with CO2 of just over 160g/km. Even the TD6 has been improved, to 39.2mpg: it emits 189g/km CO2.

The Si6 petrol is of course the least efficient new Discovery. It averages 26mpg and emits 254g/km CO2 – but is still a petrol, rather than a diesel, so some may prefer it for that reason alone. Interestingly, it’s a little less efficient than a full-size Range Rover with the same engine…

Verdict: Land Rover Discovery prototype

We can’t wait to drive the new Land Rover Discovery on the road. Our day in Scotland with the prototype suggests to us it’s going to be quite some machine. Big, luxurious, classy, refined and oh-so able, large SUV buyers should circle next February in their diaries – what could become one of the best cars in the market will be all set to launch…

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