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The Top Gear car review:Land Rover Discovery
For:Enormously capable, enormous vehicle, enormously enviable image
Against:Better in the country than around town where its size becomes an issue
3.0 SDV6 SE 5dr Auto
The Discovery 4: It’s where all the genius Land Rover traits gel most satisfyingly for the least amount of cash.
What we say:
Only slightly lighter than a Centurion tank, the Disco remains the yummy-mummy favourite
What is it?
The estate manager’s vehicle compared to the estate owner’s Range Rover. Prior to the launch of the current Range Rover, the big Land Rover was close as it’s ever been to its gentrified relative. Enormously capable, it’ll cross any terrain you ask it to.
It was upgraded in 2014, with a fresh nose and other detail changes. It also, finally, got engine stop-start, just the thing for reducing local pollution outside the school while dropping all the kids off. The core remains the same, so it’s getting on a bit and due for imminent replacement, but it remains a hugely desirable machine.
Land Rover really couldn’t have made driving the Discovery simpler. In everyday use it’s just a car, a big tall car admittedly, but nothing unusual about it. Get it off the tarmac at Tabitha’s gymkhana and the Terrain Response button has handy icons to select the correct 4x4 settings. The 3.0-litre V6 diesel features twin turbos, meaning although it’s weighty, it shifts convincingly given its size. The eight-speed automatic is unerringly smooth and refinement from the drivetrain is high. The upright windscreen does mean some wind noise around the A-pillars, but you’ll not notice it over the noise of kids in the back.
Along with engine upgrades, Land Rover has also improved the suspension over the years. It’ll still go anywhere off-road, but it’s more adept on it now. It rides decently, while the steering is not the ‘mare that you might anticipate and even body roll is kept in check.
On the inside
Closer than ever to its Range Rover relative, the cabin is a brilliant place to sit. All the buttons and controls feel very satisfying, the simplicity and ease of use handy when you’re hauling children around in its seven seats. It’s vast inside, but use all those pews and you might want a roofbox for luggage (and a step ladder to reach it).
Onboard infotainment is comprehensive with a colour screen display for all trims and a premium surround sound stereo option. Amuse your six passengers with ‘Say What You See’ voice commands too.
Land Rover’s not covered itself in glory with its reliability, though things are improving. Slightly. Still, there are worse places to sit waiting for recovery than the inside of the Discovery. Combined fuel economy of 35.3mpg is fantasy, albeit improved thanks to stop-start, and CO2 now helpfully avoids the top tax band. You’ll want the clever surround-view parking cameras if you’re citybound, as parking it can be tricky, and the Meridian stereos are cool. Pick HSE spec and it’ll come fully loaded, though even an entry-level SE model gets basics.