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The Top Gear car review: Land Rover Discovery 4

Best in class
£40,905£59,275
9/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Enormously capable, enormous vehicle

Against: 

Better in the country than around town where its size becomes an issue
Excellent, but also slight overkill in reality. Buyers don’t seem to mind.

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Our choice

Land Rover

3.0 SDV6 HSE 5dr Auto

£49,940
N/A
30mpg
9.00s
245bhp
244g/km

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 amazing new 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’s been upgraded for 2014, with a fresh nose and other detail changes. It also, finally, gets 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, but it remains a hugely desirable machine.

Driving

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.

Owning

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. You’ll want the clever surround-view parking cameras if you’re citybound, as parking it can be tricky, and new Meridian stereos are cool. Pick HSE spec and it’ll come fully loaded, though even an entry-level SE model gets basics.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
3.0 SDV6 HSE 5dr Auto
8.8s 203g/km 36.7 255 £53,805
The cheapest
3.0 SDV6 SE 5dr Auto
8.8s 203g/km 36.7 255 £40,905
The greenest
3.0 SDV6 HSE 5dr Auto
8.8s 203g/km 36.7 255 £53,805

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

7/10

Ford Galaxy

£25,325£36,560
Save a fortune and buy a Ford Galaxy and a boot full of Hunter wellies for when you need to go 'off-road'