Home / Auto / Land Rover Discovery SD4 review – This luxury saloon is hard to beat

Land Rover Discovery SD4 review – This luxury saloon is hard to beat

Just as the flagship Range Rover has pushed further upwards into the luxury saloon sector and the Sport – and no doubt the new Velar – will attract their own customers, so the Discovery has proved a stalwart of the range.

Its talents have also developed from a sturdy, dependable workhorse capable of some serious off-roading into a real-world luxury car and everyday family transport, especially with those sizeable seven seats on board.

The 7,000 sales in the UK alone of this new version underline this, as does the fact that 84 per cent of those are HSE specification or above.

Make no mistake, the Discovery has truly made the transition into a car that sits effectively in the same position as the flagship Range Rover did when it first arrived.

So is this new Discovery an off-roader, a luxury saloon, family transport or all three?

What certainly isn’t in doubt is that the new Discovery is big. Really big.

Nobody is about to argue that the outgoing car was exactly small but this new version, despite being 75st lighter than its predecessor, looks large when parked at the roadside.

The styling doesn’t help much, either. The familiar old boxy looks have gone and in their place is a softer, more rounded look, but while that’s easier on the eye, especially at the front, the back end is a bit harder to stomach thanks in part to the off-set number plate.

Yes, it’s a nod to the old Discovery and helps to differentiate it from the smaller Sport, but the number plate’s position to the left of centre on the tailgate never stops looking odd to our eyes – and we’ve been looking at it for some time.

There’s also the not-insignificant loss of that split tailgate, too.

Land Rover Discovery PH

Land Rover Discovery Price: from £62,695

The Discovery has truly made the transition into a car that sits effectively in the same position as the flagship Range Rover

The new hatchback might save weight but many past customers understandably loved that on the old model.

What’s under the Discovery’s bonnet might cause a few frowns as well.

This model gets Land Rover’s new 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine with 240bhp, although a larger 3.0-litre V6 diesel and a petrol 3.0-litre V6 are available elsewhere in the range. Traditionalists might be a little nervous about a 2.0-litre engine hauling around such a large car, but the reality is that there’s little to worry about.

With masses of grunt, it is enough to get the Discovery from 0 to 60mph in 8.0 seconds and on to a 121mph top speed. All that while also returning 43.5mpg average fuel economy and 189g/km emissions.

Land Rover DiscoveryPH

Land Rover Discovery Engine: Turbo-diesel, 2.0-litre

On the road too, this isn’t the kind of car in which you’re about to take corners while leaning on the door handles, so its lack of sporting pretensions isn’t really an issue.

Despite those substantial exterior dimensions it does shrink around you a little once on the move. Don’t get us wrong, you never really fully escape the fact that this is not a small car against the tape measure but, once you’re driving, it feels more manoeuvrable and reacts directly to your inputs better than you might imagine for such a large car.

The only downsides are that from standstill, or at low speeds, when you want more immediate acceleration, the 2.0-litre engine can sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by the Discovery’s size.

Land Rover Discovery PH

Land Rover Discovery Power: 0 to 60mph in 8.0 seconds, 121mph top speed

There’s no faulting the refinement levels though, which in terms of road, engine and wind noise – and the car’s ride quality – are all excellent, and night and day compared to its predecessor.

The same is true of the interior. The build quality and fit and finish of materials are vastly improved and while the main touchscreen is a wide, shallow, landscape format rather than the more useful portrait shape, it still works well and is relatively easy to use on the move.

We also love the fact that there are five Isofix mountings for child seats on the front passenger seat and two on the middle and third rows meaning it is handy for those with children – the typical buyer for this type of car.

There were a couple of small but pretty crucial practical niggles that we found while fitting a car seat, though. Using our usual Isofix child seat that uses the seat belt, we found that the seat belt was only just long enough to fit – a problem we’ve never had in any other car.

Land Rover Discovery PH

Land Rover Discovery Fuel economy: 43.5mpg

If the belt was as little as half an inch shorter, it wouldn’t have fitted at all. We also had issues trying to remove one of the rear seat headrests.

Instead of pushing the traditional side button and lifting it out, there’s a second hidden button you need to push, making it a two-person job – even by the handbook’s own admission.

A two-person job to remove a headrest? Quite why designers at Land Rover thought that was a good idea is a total mystery to us.

Neither are huge issues, but in a car aimed at families we were surprised to find two oversights for everyday motoring.

How would you feel spending £60,000 on a car only to find your child seats don’t fit? Despite this, we continue to warm to the new Discovery.

It might have had a substantial transformation in ethos and outlook, but the all-round package remains hard to beat.

Land Rover Discovery PH

Land Rover Discovery CO2 emissions: 189g/km


Price: from £62,695

Engine: Turbo-diesel, 2.0-litre

Power: 0 to 60mph in 8.0 seconds, 121mph top speed

Fuel economy: 43.5mpg

CO2 emissions: 189g/km

Rivals: Volvo XC90, Audi Q7, BMW X5

Rating: 9/10

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