For 26 years the Land Rover Discovery has been the company’s practical workhorse. It was chunky and highly capable, but not really a looker. All that has changed with the new fifth generation car, which is sleek, luxurious and more capable than ever before.
All UK cars get seven full-sized seats and 480kg has been shaved off the weight, although at 2,184kg, it’s no size zero supermodel, so you would expect its entry-level two-litre,
four-cylinder Ingenium engine to struggle a bit.
But not only does the 237bhp unit not struggle, but the engine feels torquey and sounds quieter than in other Jaguar Land Rover models. Other engines available are a 254bhp three-litre diesel V6 and a range-topping three-litre petrol V6 with 335bhp. Both sound smooth and feel effortless, but the smart money will be going on the two-litre version.
Being 70kg lighter than the V6s, it handles better and has almost perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Land Rover claims it can do 43.5mpg, although during the car’s launch in Utah, we saw a more realistic 30mpg.
Take it off road and there seems very little the new Disco can’t do. Deep sand in Utah’s dried-up river beds was tackled with casual disdain and huge sand dunes caused it no problems.
It can also wade through water up to 900mm deep, which would take it further than any Range Rover, Discovery or even Defender has ever managed. On normal roads, the ride is good and the car, which has an eight-speed auto gearbox, feels much more refined than previous Discos. There is also a vast amount of room — 2,406 litres of loadspace.
Prices start at £43,140, rising to £62,695 for the top spec two-litre and £67,740 for the V6 diesel.
In its new guise, the Discovery is one of the most capable cars in the world, and certainly one of the most important new models to be launched this year.
Land Rover Discovery 2.0 SD4 S Auto
Top speed: 121mph
Combined mpg: 43.5