Be­hind the wheel Land Rover Dis­cov­ery

The Herald Magazine - - DRIVE - AN­DREW MACKAY

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

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