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It’s been more than a decade since I’ve driven a Disco – so is it still worth a song and dance?

The Discovery, like most of the new Land Rover stable, has long-since moved away from the relatively utilitarian models of old. It’s something that alienated some diehards but pleased just as many with the Discovery becoming a thoroughly technological innovation while retaining the marque’s famed off-road capability. Campfire jokes have changed from those about oil leaks to those about electrics.

To most current owners, it doesn’t matter. The Land Rover Discovery in the main fulfils a less demanding role for many families. While it might not have to cross the Simpson Desert, it cops a hammering as a family wagon, and as a more than capable tow vehicle even if it never turns a wheel in the Mud and Ruts setting for the Terrain Response program.

2019 LAND ROVER DISCOVERY

WORDS TIM SCOTT, IMAGES LIAM FOSTER

DRIVEN Land Rover Discovery SDV6 SE

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ABOVE Sleek lines, we matched these two for a good reason 

GAINING TRACTION
You have a choice of four powerplants, two diesel two and petrol. In diesel, it's a two-litre, four-cylinder or the three-litre V6 turbo that we had. The smaller engine offers 177kW, whereas the larger creates 225kW and 700Nm which is marshalled by the eight-speed auto in both. It’s interesting to note that despite the immediate attraction of the V6’s promise, the four is only marginally slower in top speed and acceleration, it’s the torque of 430Nm that’s the difference and so for your towing needs then the larger engine makes more sense. Plus, you have the 3500kg capacity that’s towable on GVM too, within axle weight limits.

The Terrain Response 2 system, part of the Capability Plus Pack option is a must-have. The original system was groundbreaking when it arrived on the Discovery 3, so much so that it’s been emulated by others but improved by LR to add armchair expertise to your driving arsenal. In addition to being a full-time four-wheel drive, having the ability to select the modes to change your engine, throttle, chassis and braking responses to suit is invaluable even if you only use the Grass, Gravel Snow setting to negotiate a slippery field for camping. The Capability Pack also includes auto-locking rear differential, in addition to the standard height-adjustable air suspension. This matters if you want to secure the best camping site that’s just that bit harder to reach for the Euro-Teen whizzbangs that want to crowd you come happy hour. 

ABOVE A great illustration as to what's going on and where? // BELOW Limited aftermarket options but a 900mm wading depth as standard is good for long-term engine health

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ABOVE Rear three-quarter design element not for all tastes but, mate, Pokeball-look rear lights! 

TOWING HITCHES
Our tow test didn’t pan out as planned. We had hoped to take the Track Trailer T4 for an extended haul, but due to lack of available stock, it turned into a very short haul and a photoshoot. The T4 has an ATM of 2500kg, and while that’s not a maximum for the Disco, we also had an Ezytrail Lincoln MkII camper-trailer at the office of the same ATM and took that for a few hundred kilometres return run over the Blue Mountains on the Bells Line of Road. This route gives a mix of open touring conditions that range from 60-100km/h through long curves, plenty of hills and some very average bitumen.

With the T4 we experienced some shunting, an occasional inconsiderate shove from the trailer. We weren’t using the factory tow tongue and ball that comes (in a very swish little hard case) as part of the LR tow pack because the T4 uses a Cruisemaster DO35 hitch. When we attached the Lincoln, we slid in one of the shims that’s supplied with the Discovery’s hitch kit, and there was no more evidence of a recalcitrant trailer.

There was a little hight disparity between our two towing choices, but even with the Discovery’s side mirrors being like the rest of the car and sleek, we managed all-round, or more pointedly, rearward vision without the need for towing mirrors.

ABOVE Like business class to sleep in. How do I know? Ask my ex-wife // BELOW Also see above, and if you have custody here, your kids will love you for it 

Main Features
  • Flat panel design offers compact size with big performance
  • Fully automatic with built in 24 Channel GPS for fast signal locating
  • Supports VAST and Foxtel Satellite TV across Australia
  • Automatic retraction once you are travelling above 10KPH
  • Suits Caravan, Motorhome and Motor Vehicle use
  • Easy to install and simple to Use, just turn it on and press “Ok”
  • 1300 Number Help Line to assist you along the way
Automatic Satellite TV System

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PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES
Like all Land Rover’s touring models, the Discovery offers a commanding view forward, and there’s ample glass to keep the most ardent ‘are we there yet?’ commentators visually entertained as the scenery whizzes past. Should the passengers choose to induce motion sickness by never looking up from their screens, then charging points are plentiful in a car designed for modern convenience at every seating position – even if there’s seven. It’s long been a Discovery trademark that the third-row seats are for full-size humans and (if optioned) you can electronically configure the back pews to suit your requirements; even via an App. The fully-flat floor aids cargo accessibility, plus the auto tail-lift (option) and the buttons for the air suspension that raise and lower the car’s bum to make it easier to get stuff in and out.

ABOVE It all becomes easier to absorb and control after a while 

DRIVING, NOT DISTRACTED
There’s a lot to absorb in any modern Land Rover cabin. There are icons, buttons and dials; it’s a busy place, but nothing is too unfamiliar and easily falls to hand once you’ve spent a little time in the well-appointed and designed 12-way adjustable leather seat.

Sensors, cameras and alerts take care of keeping you in your lane, stop you from hitting stuff when you’re parking, keep an eye out for traffic behind, and there are cameras to assist you when off-road and most importantly for when hitching up your van. There’s even a trailer stability assist function.

You’d expect a premium sound system, and you receive one. Ambient lighting is available along with two-zone climate control, and the signature puddle lights are still cool.

The rotary gear selector rises from the centre console on startup, and you can leave it alone unless you wish to engage the Sports element and shift via the steering wheel paddles, helpful in hilly touring conditions while towing.

The large touch screen in the centre of the dash means that you or the passenger can look after media, or climate, for which there are simpler analogue dials below. The digital dash display is easy to deal with, although I found the main touch screen a bit confusing at times and while I have heard of similar experiences with the satnav, on this test I arrived where I set out for unflustered.

In a car so packed with electronics, you’d expect the dynamics to be spot on, and they are. The engine response is all wonderfully matched with the gearbox and driving the Discovery is a fantastic touring experience. The control set-up is constantly monitoring your inputs and compensating for crappy roads via great suspension, settling potential body roll and pushing back to make sure you’re enjoying a settled drive, even with a trailer on the towbar.

ABOVE The Terrain Response (2) now has the Auto mode // BELOW Touch screen can be fussy at times, but then, so can I 

VERDICT
I drove the Discovery 3 at launch, and it was a masterful vehicle then. On twisting Scottish highland roads in the hands of a talented driver (not me) it provided exhilarating motoring, and we drove off-road courses that demonstrated clever ability.

Factor in around 15 years of development and you haven’t had the soul manufactured out of the Discovery, you’ve enriched it. It’s as highly capable off-road now as ever, and for most people, i.e. the average user it will do everything they’d contemplate; I’d wager driver skill would expire before tractive ability.

However, we’re not just assessing off-road antics. Like most cars, the current Discovery will be a family vehicle that needs to accommodate the tribe and tow the camper or caravan for the holidays and all of these it will do in style. Aftermarket accessories for off-road modification are limited, however, which is a shame that might limit longer-term touring but only if your plans mean near-permanent harsh terrain.

It’s not cheap, but in the company of its peers the Discovery stacks up well in terms of payload, towing ability and equipment, it’s only the options list that I think will raise eyebrows over some of the items vs standard inclusions. 

Still, don’t let traditional views stand between you and a superb tow vehicle. There’s only one way to make your own rock-solid opinion.

PROS
• Dynamics
• Performance
• Technology

CONS
• Extensive options vs standard list Click here to view

SPECS
Land Rover Discovery SDV6 SE
Engine: 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6
Gearbox: Eight-speed auto
Power: 225kW @ 3750rpm
Torque: 700Nm @1500-1750rpm
Length: 4970mm
Kerb Weight: 2236kg (driver, fluids, 90% fuel)
GVM: 3200kg
Tow capacity: 3500kg
Towball: 330/150kg
Payload: 891kg (inc 75kg driver)
GCM: 6700kg
Fuel Capacity: 85 litres
Price: $98,778. As tested, $117,628 plus on roads

For more info: landrover.com.au

2019 LAND ROVER DISCOVERY

WORDS TIM SCOTT, IMAGES LIAM FOSTER

It’s been more than a decade since I’ve driven a Disco – so is it still worth a song and dance?

DRIVEN Land Rover Discovery SDV6 SE

The Discovery, like most of the new Land Rover stable, has long-since moved away from the relatively utilitarian models of old. It’s something that alienated some diehards but pleased just as many with the Discovery becoming a thoroughly technological innovation while retaining the marque’s famed off-road capability. Campfire jokes have changed from those about oil leaks to those about electrics.

To most current owners, it doesn’t matter. The Land Rover Discovery in the main fulfils a less demanding role for many families. While it might not have to cross the Simpson Desert, it cops a hammering as a family wagon, and as a more than capable tow vehicle even if it never turns a wheel in the Mud and Ruts setting for the Terrain Response program.

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ABOVE A great illustration as to what's going on and where? // BELOW Limited aftermarket options but a 900mm wading depth as standard is good for long-term engine health

GAINING TRACTION
You have a choice of four powerplants, two diesel two and petrol. In diesel, it's a two-litre, four-cylinder or the three-litre V6 turbo that we had. The smaller engine offers 177kW, whereas the larger creates 225kW and 700Nm which is marshalled by the eight-speed auto in both. It’s interesting to note that despite the immediate attraction of the V6’s promise, the four is only marginally slower in top speed and acceleration, it’s the torque of 430Nm that’s the difference and so for your towing needs then the larger engine makes more sense. Plus, you have the 3500kg capacity that’s towable on GVM too, within axle weight limits.

The Terrain Response 2 system, part of the Capability Plus Pack option is a must-have. The original system was groundbreaking when it arrived on the Discovery 3, so much so that it’s been emulated by others but improved by LR to add armchair expertise to your driving arsenal. In addition to being a full-time four-wheel drive, having the ability to select the modes to change your engine, throttle, chassis and braking responses to suit is invaluable even if you only use the Grass, Gravel Snow setting to negotiate a slippery field for camping. The Capability Pack also includes auto-locking rear differential, in addition to the standard height-adjustable air suspension. This matters if you want to secure the best camping site that’s just that bit harder to reach for the Euro-Teen whizzbangs that want to crowd you come happy hour. 

ABOVE Sleek lines, we matched these two for a good reason 

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ABOVE Like business class to sleep in. How do I know? Ask my ex-wife // BELOW Also see above, and if you have custody here, your kids will love you for it 

TOWING HITCHES
Our tow test didn’t pan out as planned. We had hoped to take the Track Trailer T4 for an extended haul, but due to lack of available stock, it turned into a very short haul and a photoshoot. The T4 has an ATM of 2500kg, and while that’s not a maximum for the Disco, we also had an Ezytrail Lincoln MkII camper-trailer at the office of the same ATM and took that for a few hundred kilometres return run over the Blue Mountains on the Bells Line of Road. This route gives a mix of open touring conditions that range from 60-100km/h through long curves, plenty of hills and some very average bitumen.

With the T4 we experienced some shunting, an occasional inconsiderate shove from the trailer. We weren’t using the factory tow tongue and ball that comes (in a very swish little hard case) as part of the LR tow pack because the T4 uses a Cruisemaster DO35 hitch. When we attached the Lincoln, we slid in one of the shims that’s supplied with the Discovery’s hitch kit, and there was no more evidence of a recalcitrant trailer.

There was a little hight disparity between our two towing choices, but even with the Discovery’s side mirrors being like the rest of the car and sleek, we managed all-round, or more pointedly, rearward vision without the need for towing mirrors.

ABOVE Rear three-quarter design element not for all tastes but, mate, Pokeball-look rear lights! 

Automatic Satellite TV System
Main Features
  • Flat panel design offers compact size with big performance
  • Fully automatic with built in 24 Channel GPS for fast signal locating
  • Supports VAST and Foxtel Satellite TV across Australia
  • Automatic retraction once you are travelling above 10KPH
  • Suits Caravan, Motorhome and Motor Vehicle use
  • Easy to install and simple to Use, just turn it on and press “Ok”
  • 1300 Number Help Line to assist you along the way

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

ADVERTISEMENT

PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES
Like all Land Rover’s touring models, the Discovery offers a commanding view forward, and there’s ample glass to keep the most ardent ‘are we there yet?’ commentators visually entertained as the scenery whizzes past. Should the passengers choose to induce motion sickness by never looking up from their screens, then charging points are plentiful in a car designed for modern convenience at every seating position – even if there’s seven. It’s long been a Discovery trademark that the third-row seats are for full-size humans and (if optioned) you can electronically configure the back pews to suit your requirements; even via an App. The fully-flat floor aids cargo accessibility, plus the auto tail-lift (option) and the buttons for the air suspension that raise and lower the car’s bum to make it easier to get stuff in and out.

ABOVE The Terrain Response (2) now has the Auto mode // BELOW Touch screen can be fussy at times, but then, so can I 

DRIVING, NOT DISTRACTED
There’s a lot to absorb in any modern Land Rover cabin. There are icons, buttons and dials; it’s a busy place, but nothing is too unfamiliar and easily falls to hand once you’ve spent a little time in the well-appointed and designed 12-way adjustable leather seat.

Sensors, cameras and alerts take care of keeping you in your lane, stop you from hitting stuff when you’re parking, keep an eye out for traffic behind, and there are cameras to assist you when off-road and most importantly for when hitching up your van. There’s even a trailer stability assist function.

You’d expect a premium sound system, and you receive one. Ambient lighting is available along with two-zone climate control, and the signature puddle lights are still cool.

The rotary gear selector rises from the centre console on startup, and you can leave it alone unless you wish to engage the Sports element and shift via the steering wheel paddles, helpful in hilly touring conditions while towing.

The large touch screen in the centre of the dash means that you or the passenger can look after media, or climate, for which there are simpler analogue dials below. The digital dash display is easy to deal with, although I found the main touch screen a bit confusing at times and while I have heard of similar experiences with the satnav, on this test I arrived where I set out for unflustered.

In a car so packed with electronics, you’d expect the dynamics to be spot on, and they are. The engine response is all wonderfully matched with the gearbox and driving the Discovery is a fantastic touring experience. The control set-up is constantly monitoring your inputs and compensating for crappy roads via great suspension, settling potential body roll and pushing back to make sure you’re enjoying a settled drive, even with a trailer on the towbar.

ABOVE It all becomes easier to absorb and control after a while 

VERDICT
I drove the Discovery 3 at launch, and it was a masterful vehicle then. On twisting Scottish highland roads in the hands of a talented driver (not me) it provided exhilarating motoring, and we drove off-road courses that demonstrated clever ability.

Factor in around 15 years of development and you haven’t had the soul manufactured out of the Discovery, you’ve enriched it. It’s as highly capable off-road now as ever, and for most people, i.e. the average user it will do everything they’d contemplate; I’d wager driver skill would expire before tractive ability.

However, we’re not just assessing off-road antics. Like most cars, the current Discovery will be a family vehicle that needs to accommodate the tribe and tow the camper or caravan for the holidays and all of these it will do in style. Aftermarket accessories for off-road modification are limited, however, which is a shame that might limit longer-term touring but only if your plans mean near-permanent harsh terrain.

It’s not cheap, but in the company of its peers the Discovery stacks up well in terms of payload, towing ability and equipment, it’s only the options list that I think will raise eyebrows over some of the items vs standard inclusions. 

Still, don’t let traditional views stand between you and a superb tow vehicle. There’s only one way to make your own rock-solid opinion.

PROS
• Dynamics
• Performance
• Technology

CONS
• Extensive options vs standard list Click here to view

SPECS
Land Rover Discovery SDV6 SE
Engine: 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6
Gearbox: Eight-speed auto
Power: 225kW @ 3750rpm
Torque: 700Nm @1500-1750rpm
Length: 4970mm
Kerb Weight: 2236kg (driver, fluids, 90% fuel)
GVM: 3200kg
Tow capacity: 3500kg
Towball: 330/150kg
Payload: 891kg (inc 75kg driver)
GCM: 6700kg
Fuel Capacity: 85 litres
Price: $98,778. As tested, $117,628 plus on roads

For more info: landrover.com.au