Dis­cov­ery buyer’s guide

FROM £5,000 Buy care­fully, and soon-to-be-re­placed 4x4 looks good value

Auto Express - - Contents - Richard Dredge Thanks to Im­pe­rial Car Su­per­mar­kets in Hamp­shire for the loan of the Dis­cov­ery 4 in our pic­tures. Con­tact 023 8098 6917 www.im­pe­ri­al­car­su­per­mar­kets.co.uk

How to get your hands on out­go­ing Land Rover for a song

AN all-new Land Rover Dis­cov­ery reaches UK show­rooms shortly, and as you’d ex­pect it’s an im­pres­sive ma­chine. But with prices start­ing at £43,495 you’ll need deep pock­ets; for rather less you could buy one of the out­go­ing mod­els in­stead.

On the face of it the pre­vi­ous Dis­cov­ery didn’t break new ground, be­cause there had been seven-seat off-road­ers be­fore. Mod­els such as the Mit­subishi Shogun and Toy­ota Land Cruiser could carry seven peo­ple while tack­ling some pretty ex­treme ter­rain.

But the Dis­cov­ery 3 and 4 built on the lux­ury, re­fine­ment and un­stop­pable off-road abil­ity of the 1989 orig­i­nal by adding ex­tra prac­ti­cal­ity to give buy­ers the com­plete pack­age. This is why the iconic 4x4 has racked up one award after an­other.

His­tory

THE Dis­cov­ery 3 launched in Au­gust 2004, with 4.4 V8 petrol or 2.7 V6 diesel en­gines.

Ini­tially there were stan­dard S, SE and HSE trims; S was re­placed by the XS and GS in Septem­ber 2006. A cos­metic up­date was car­ried out in July 2008, then in Septem­ber 2009 the Dis­cov­ery 4 ar­rived with a 3.0-litre TDV6 en­gine, a new dash, re­designed nose and tail, plus im­proved elec­tron­ics and a re­freshed mul­ti­me­dia sys­tem.

The 2.7-litre en­gine was re­placed in 2011 by the 3.0 SDV6, which of­fered more power and lower emis­sions, and fea­tured a new eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Along the way there has been a run of nu­mer­ous spe­cial-edi­tion Dis­cov­ery mod­els, in­clud­ing the Land­mark (2010 and 2015), Black & White (2011), HSE Lux­ury (2012), XXV (2014) and Graphite (2015).

Which one?

CON­TIN­U­OUS de­vel­op­ment brought a steady stream of im­prove­ments, so go for the new­est car you can af­ford.

Cars with a man­ual gear­box are un­usual and hard to sell, while V8 petrol mod­els can prove a bargain if con­verted to LPG. But re­ally you’re bet­ter off stick­ing with diesel. If you have a choice, opt for leather trim if pos­si­ble; most buy­ers don’t want cloth.

The 3.0-litre en­gine has 36 per cent more mus­cle than the 2.7-litre unit, yet it’s more fru­gal, so aim for a Dis­cov­ery 4 if you can; these later cars tend to be more re­li­able and have a much bet­ter in­te­rior, too.

En­try-level cars are sur­pris­ingly spar­tan, so buy a mid-range model such as an SE, although the top-of-therange HSE is al­most limou­sine-like.

Al­ter­na­tives

IF you want true off-road abil­ity and need seven seats, the Mit­subishi Shogun and Toy­ota Land Cruiser Ama­zon will fit the bill.

Both promise stronger re­li­a­bil­ity than the Land Rover, but nei­ther can match the Disco’s sense of lux­ury, or its space in the third row of seats. The Volvo XC90 is more road-bi­ased, but again doesn’t of­fer as much room in the third row; the same goes for the Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mercedes GL.

While all of these Ger­man cars are lux­u­ri­ous and serve up a de­cent bal­ance of fuel econ­omy and per­for­mance, they sim­ply can’t match the ver­sa­til­ity of the Dis­cov­ery, let alone its off-road abil­ity.

The Q7, X5 and GL are all very de­sir­able, but as you would ex­pect in this mar­ket, run­ning costs will be high.

Ver­dict

THERE’S no short­age of seven-seat SUVS on the mar­ket these days, but none has the Dis­cov­ery’s depth of tal­ents.

Not only can it ac­com­mo­date seven adults in com­fort, it can also travel at high speed with re­fine­ment. And while ear­lier Dis­cos could be far from depend­able, the lat­est ex­am­ples of the out­go­ing model are much bet­ter – although there are still quite a few weak­nesses. Even cher­ished ex­am­ples will cost plenty to own, so although the Dis­cov­ery 3 and 4 are bril­liant cars, run­ning one on a shoe­string sim­ply isn’t an op­tion.

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