The Discovery has provided comfort in combination with dual-purpose ability that makes it appealing to those who need a vehicle that is accomplished in most areas. Now in its fifth generation, I travelled with the folks from Land Rover South Africa from Pretoria to Limpopo in the latest Discovery with a few adventurous stops in-between.
Discovering a new look
The Discovery has always been a big, imposing off-road machine. In recent years though, from the third generation onwards, the design has progressed to reflect a more modern, obscure look with the fifth generation being no different.
Up front, we get a very similar grille and headlight arrangement to that of the Discovery Sport, while in side profile, its shoulder line and roof extends upwards towards the boot and shows just how tall this seven-seater is. At the rear, we get lights that look as if they’ve been lifted from a Range Rover Sport, and an utterly bizarre off-centre mounting for the number plate.
Overall, I am not too convinced by the looks of the new Discovery; the design looks too busy, as if it’s trying too hard to be different.
Where the car does impress is in the features and capability categories. In terms of towing, the Discovery will be able to haul a class-leading 3 500kg.
It can also be specified with an all-electric tow bar, the semi-autonomous Advanced Tow Assist and Hitch Assist system that will guide in attaching your trailer and lift the car up to allow the hitching process to be done by one person.
Other features include an all-aluminium construction saving some 480kg compared to the previous Discovery. It also comes with the superb Terrain Response 2 system with various modes for the prevailing conditions.
Then there is the All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) which can be activated during tough off-road conditions. The car then takes over the brakes and accelerator with the driver only having to steer. Combine these electronic systems with a massive 283mm of ground clearance and wading depth of 900mm, and you have a formidable off-road warrior.
As with any seven-seat vehicle, the interior needs to be well designed and in the Discovery, there are a few clever solutions. The second and third rows for example can be folded at the touch of a button to release up to 2 500-litres of space, while individual seats can be stowed or placed upright according to user preference.
These rows make the Discovery a genuine seven-seater, although I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the middle of the second row or anywhere in the third row for an extended period.
Then there is the availability of up to nine USB ports, six twelve-volt charging points and in-car Wi-Fi courtesy of a hotspot function. The infotainment setup is geared to work with your smartphone and is certainly an improvement over other Jaguar-Land Rover systems, but I feel that the Germans still have it licked in terms of usability and screen resolution.
There are only two engine options available within the local Discovery range; a 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6 delivering 190kW/600Nm, and a sonorous 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol producing 250kW/450Nm.
With these torque-laden powertrains, progress is effortless in the Discovery, while the air suspension makes driving at any speed quite comfortable, even over our less than perfect roads. Both engines are paired with the ever-popular ZF sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox.
In terms of my pick of the range, I’d have to say that the diesel simply makes more sense. As lovely as the power delivery of the supercharged V6 is, the oil burner simply feels as though it’s more suited to the Discovery’s purpose, while being more efficient in the process.
The latest Discovery is an accomplished product in terms of its quality, ability and overall package. For those shopping in the premium SUV segment who require something as capable on and off-road as it is practical and comfortable, the Discovery is the car for you. You’ll just have to make peace with the looks and be wary when ticking options on the spec list, as the price can escalate dramatically.
Service and warranty
All Discovery models come with a three-year/100 000km warranty, a five-year/100 000km service plan and a five-year/100 000km maintenance plan as standard.
3.0 TDV6 S - R980 000
3.0 Si6 S - R1 018 500
3.0 TDV6 SE - R1 109 250
3.0 Si6 SE - R1 126 750
3.0 TDV6 HSE - R1 223 000
3.0 Si6 HSE - R1 240 500
3.0 TDV6 Luxury - R1 314 000
3.0 Si6 HSE Luxury - R1 331 500
3.0 TDV6 First Edition - R1 440 000
3.0 Si6 First Edition - R1 457 500