Back in the box

Stick­ing with the long­stand­ing for­mula, the Disco is ready for seven-seat duty

Mercury (Hobart) - Motoring - - PRESTIGE - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR joshua.dowl­ing@news.com.au

MUMS on the school run in well-heeled ar­eas are in a tizz be­cause the sleek new Land Rover Dis­cov­ery looks smaller than the box-shaped sev­enseater it re­places. How are they go­ing to ferry a squad of kids to week­end sports?

The cri­sis hasn’t prompted an emer­gency meet­ing of the P and C yet but some are al­ready look­ing at al­ter­na­tives. The out­go­ing “Disco” has been around for 13 years, so there is a lot rid­ing on this new model.

That’s why this drive starts in the back seat.

“Surely Land Rover couldn’t be so stupid as to make the back seat smaller,” says mother of four Julie, the fu­ri­ous owner of an old model want­ing to up­date.

“All the mums are talk­ing about it.”

Julie, there is good news. The third row seats are big enough for two 180cm-plus adults. There’s enough head and knee­room to spare (about 10cm each way) and feet fit eas­ily un­der the se­cond row seat.

There may not be quite as much room as be­fore in the cor­ners of the roof but over­all there’s more than enough for a fam­ily seven-seater.

To make clam­ber­ing into the third row eas­ier, the se­cond row slides well for­ward, though the rear is still bet­ter suited to nim­ble kids than tired adults.

Need to trans­port lit­tle ones? There are four Isofix child re­straint mount­ing points, two each in the se­cond and third rows — among the few other SUVs with third-row points are the Ford Ever­est, Audi Q7 and Mazda CX-9.

There are three diesel op­tions, a 2.0-litre turbo four in two states of tune and a 3.0-litre V6, matched to an eight-speed au­to­matic and all-wheel drive.

Each comes in four equip­ment grades — S, SE, HSE and HSE Lux­ury — so se­lect­ing from the dozen vari­ants re­quires pa­tience and a cal­cu­la­tor to tot up the op­tions.

Dearer mod­els with the high out­put four-cylin­der and V6 ar­rive in Au­gust and the cheaper ones in Oc­to­ber.

Prices start at $65,960 plus on-roads for a five-seater and top out at $131,871.

The op­tions list is long and ex­pen­sive. Metal­lic paint is be­tween $2010 and $4020. And only one non­metal­lic colour forms the ba­sis of all RRPs.

The base model lacks such ba­sics as built-in nav­i­ga­tion (stan­dard on a $17,990 Suzuki Swift) front sen­sors (stan­dard on a Hyundai i30) and a 360de­gree cam­era (stan­dard on a Mercedes GLC).

Other miss­ing tech: Ap­ple Car Play and An­droid Auto are still not ready for Jaguar Land Rover ve­hi­cles. When they are even­tu­ally added (a year or so away) they can’t be retrofitted.

Handy safety aids such as radar cruise con­trol, rear cross traf­fic alert and side blind zone warn­ing are part of ex­pen­sive op­tion packs on even the dear­est mod­els.

Au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing is stan­dard but only works up to 40km/h (in other lux­ury brands it’s ef­fec­tive up to 100km/h) and it’s for­ward fac­ing only.

Six airbags are stan­dard when some other lux­ury brands have eight or nine (the Dis­cov­ery lacks a knee airbag and seat mounted airbags in the se­cond row seats) but the cur­tain airbags have head pro­tec­tion for all three rows.

The new cabin has more than a dozen stor­age cub­bies, in­clud­ing a cav­ernous cen­tre con­sole, dig­i­tal speed dis­play, push-but­ton start and a wide touch­screen for au­dio con­trols.

The op­tional head­lights each have seven bright white LEDs but they don’t dim in­di­vid­u­ally for on­com­ing traf­fic. High-beam in the Land Rover is old school: all on or all off, although it will do so au­to­mat­i­cally if you pre­fer.

Air­con vents to the se­cond row are in the door pil­lars; third row air vents are op­tional.

ON THE ROAD

A brief drive on the straight, flat roads around Uluru gave lit­tle in­sight into how the Dis­cov­ery will han­dle the daily grind of round­abouts, and speed humps

We sim­u­lated a cor­ner or two and found the Disco still likes to throw its weight around even though the new al­la­lu­minium body con­struc­tion trims 480kg — it is still sub­stan­tial at 2.2 tonnes or so.

We’ll with­hold ob­ser­va­tions un­til we drive it more than 20km on sealed roads.

VER­DICT

Early signs are good but the price es­ca­lates quickly with a few ba­sic op­tions ticked. The RRP is just a tease.

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