Behind the wheel Land Rover Discovery
ITHINK car buyers experience much the same chemistry as a potentially courting couple. They may examine reports, statistics and any scrap of information that will help them make a decision but if they don’t fancy its looks it is unlikely that its steering wheel will ever be held with tender love and care.
When the new Land Rover Discovery arrived, I admit to shaking my head with some disquiet. How, I wondered, could the person who penned the incredibly successful Evoque be so inconsistent as to give this model a side-on rear end that sank the heart?
My first impression was that it had been copied from the old SsangYong Rodius as this car, rather more at the budget end of motoring, was designed in a fashion where chunky lumps is Korean cool. But for Land Rover this is infra dig. It took me some time to get over the inelegant construction of its pointless tailgate and offset number plate.
Open the door, however, and what meets the eye is a sumptuous level of luxury that is reminiscent of the passenger cabin of the Range Rover a few years ago. What was good for the Range Rover then has now become the new age of Discovery.
The Discovery has got bogged down through its own success. In the central console the clever rotary gearshift selector and rotational control for off-road modes reside and space is tight for anything else, which is a shame as it is in this area where the principal controller for in-car entertainment, heating and other functions is normally located.
I do like driving this car. I feel safe and secure behind the wheel, I’d much rather be here than in a small eggshell of a car.
The view looking forward is excellent, not so good when looking back, and I am gloriously comfortable in the heated seats that also massage one’s back and will at the press or tilt of a switch slide, recline or lower. Perhaps best of all for owners is the ease of folding and raising its rear seats and also the flexibility that the sliding middle row brings.
All seats can be folded flat to create a large cargo space but more significant is perhaps just how good the rear seats are. They are heated, have USB points and will take adults. Under the bonnet is Land Rover’s three-litre V6 diesel engine that has an output of 262ps and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission driving all wheels. This engine is most impressive, pulling well and working effectively with the gearbox. Even when pressed, it gets on with its job in a quiet manner, never feeling flustered.
Its whole air suspension set-up is at its best on open A-roads where any surface blemishes are readily despatched. It drives well, feels assured and its steering is adequate.
On lesser roads the ride was fidgety and much less assured, however, unless fully loaded with passengers and I did not have a chance to take the Discovery off-road.
The new Discovery is priced from £44k for the two-litre SD4 and perhaps I’ve been spoiled in this HSE Luxury model, which has as they say all bells and whistles but in this model’s case the car has been fitted with many fairly expensive options.
It has a television and in-built screens in the headrests, head-up display, plus other features that will add at least another £20k on to its price. I admit its rear-end styling did become less significant, but it is near impossible to style a car that will suit everyone’s eye.
Not so bonnie at the back end but still a safe and enjoyable drive with plenty of luxury add-ons