The Land Rover Discovery’s quiet cabin and comfortable suspension make it an excellent cruiser but it isn’t much fun and it feels like a very big car to drive around town
You can get the Land Rover Discovery with a choice of two diesels and one petrol engine. All models come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that shifts gears extremely smoothly.
The best engine to choose is the 306hp 3.0-litre diesel. It might not sound much more powerful than the 240hp basic diesel, but in the real world it has substantially more get-up-and-go, pulling from 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds – not bad for a car weighing more than two tonnes. Fuel economy isn’t that great, although that’s par for the course with a car like this. Land Rover reckons 37mpg should be possible, but in the real world it’s not that hard to drop to the mid-20s.
The four-cylinder diesel gets running costs lower than they have ever been in a Discovery
For the best fuel economy, the 240hp 2.0-litre diesel is the one you should go for even if it doesn’t feel quite as quick as the 3.0-litre model. It has claimed official fuel economy of 37.7mpg, although you would be well advised to take that with a pinch of salt.
For the ultimate in scary fuel bills, though, stick your name down for the 2.0-litre petrol. According to Land Rover it’ll return just 28.8mpg but expect that to be worse in normal driving. It’s only a tad slower than the 3.0-litre diesel – 0-62mph takes 7.3 seconds, but speed isn’t really what the Discovery is all about.
Land Rover built the Discovery to be as comfortable as possible – something you’ll notice the minute you set off. Air suspension is fitted to all models and although you’ll find it can fidget a little over imperfections at low speeds (especially with larger alloy wheel options fitted), at high speeds it just wafts along. Wind noise is mostly kept out of the cabin thanks to the Discovery’s sleek shape and noise from the tyres isn’t too noticeable either.
All models come with cruise control that can hold the car at a set speed. But active cruise control, which can match the speed of the car in front before returning to a preselected cruising velocity and stop and start the car in traffic, is an option even on HSE Luxury models. Safety is a strong point, though – the Discovery scored five points when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP under 2017’s extremely tough regime and all models come with automatic emergency braking.
The new Discovery is up to 450kg lighter than the old model so, for a big old car, it handles pretty well, helped by steering that doesn’t feel as vague as the old car’s. It might not be as sharp as a BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne or even an Audi Q7, but unless you’re going after lap records it’ll be absolutely fine.
In town, the Discovery is a bit of a mixed bag. Its raised suspension gives you a brilliant view out of the front and there isn’t much of a blind spot where the windscreen meets the front doors. Trying to see out the back isn’t as simple but Land Rover throws in front and rear parking sensors as well as a rear view camera as standard on every Discovery to help you out.
You might not get sports-car like handling from the Land Rover Discovery but if you want an SUV that’s actually capable off-road, this is it. All models come with Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, so you can use a knob to quickly set the car up for a variety of conditions including grass, gravel and snow, mud and ruts, sand or rock crawling. The Discovery is also a safe bet if you’re looking for a tow car – even the 2.0-litre diesel can pull up to 3,500kgs.