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Driven: Land Rover Discovery

Driven November 2017

Driven: Land Rover Discovery

Haven’t all you of driven this before?


No. We haven’t.



Of course you have. Look…

Oh. This. This isn’t the Discovery. This is the Discovery Sport.



What’s the difference? The Sport is faster and more expensive?

On the contrary, the Sport is cheaper and smaller.



It looks similar. But you’re right, the Discovery seems bigger.

Oh, the Discovery is massive. It towers all over you if you are standing outside it.



What’s new?

Everything.



Er….

Yes. Sorry. For starters, the chassis. For the first time ever, the Discovery is a monocoque. Which will have off-road enthusiasts palpating.



But doesn’t that hinder off-road ability?

The Discovery eats, breathes and sleeps off-road, to use a cliché. On that monsoon-strewn surface around Pavna Lake in Lonavala, the Disco was akin to an elephant enjoying a mud bath. I was finding it difficult to walk the terrain, getting in and out of the car, moving out of the frame for photos and getting back to the car to change its position. But once inside, nothing seemed impossible.



Then that must hinder on-road ability?

Well, it’s no Porsche Cayenne around corners, but the Discovery is above average at high-speed on the roads. At high speeds, the Discovery is rock-steady in a way no vehicle as tall as a single-storey house should be. It lets you look into the eyes of the driver of a Volvo B7R bus from inside it. And this is before I activate the higher ground clearance off-road mode that raises ground clearance from 220mm to 283mm. The car remains steady during sudden lane changes. Only rear seat passengers will feel unnerved by the sudden motion and roll.



What’s the engine like?

A 3-litre turbo-charged V6. It sounds good and revvy. And it has a lot of weight to move around. 2.2 tonnes to be exact. And the Discovery is this heavy despite the all new one going all aluminium and docking off a good 480kgs off from the older Discovery.



That’s nearly half a tonne lighter than before.

Exactly. Perhaps why this rhino can do a 100kph in just over eight seconds. However, this isn’t the best engine for a vehicle like this. It sounds good, likes revs, but is rather hungry. And for an implement like this, it’s best to have a good, torque-laden diesel that will just let you go longer before refills. The gearbox isn’t a quick-shifting dual-clutch, but does well for a car like this.



How is it inside?

Top quality. There’s a bunch of off-road toys all lead by Land Rover’s Terrain Response dial and all the buttons and controls are big and chunky that let you operate them even with thick gloves. One benefit of the older Disco’s slab-sided design is you could see the edges of the nose precisely from the driver’s seat. With this curvier, more aerodynamic lines, it’s not that precise. But there are a bus-load of front, side and rear-facing cameras to help you out with visibility. As long as you don’t take the Discovery through a lot of slush. Which we did, as you can see. Thankfully the rear camera was still usable after the mud fest.



Speaking of that rear, what’s with the asymmetrical number-plate?



Ah-hah. That’s what we were talking about. It seems like some sort of a homage to earlier Discoveries that used to have a spare tyre and an expansive rear window for visbility before rear cameras were invented. That was a classic case of form following function. Here the asymmetry seems a marketing rather than a design or engineering decision.



You were tell that earlier… about the design…

Yes. In our opinion, the Jeep Wrangler and the Land Rover Discovery are the best consumer off-roaders in the planet. They are incredible off-road, are decent on the road, have all the modern safety and comfort features you’d need, have no aspirations to being sporty and breaking lap records and have an unmistakable, iconic design. But the new Discovery has deviated far away from the previous iterations.



But, well, change and all that...?

True. But the change here seems more an attempt to make it look more like a Range Rover and an Evoque, and in trying to be that, it ends up looking like a Discovery Sport that’s let go of its dieting and exercise regimen.



That’s true. The name and the looks make it difficult to tell them apart.

Unless you are a car or off-road aficionado.



But design apart, there are other good things…?

Sure. Incredible off-road ability for one. And compared to the Range Rover Sport and the Range Rover, the Discovery is much cheaper ranging from Rs 71 to 88 lakh. For that you get that off-road ability, decent on-road and high-speed manners, a lot of luxury and refinement and -- unlike the Range Rover – seven seats.



So how much would you give it?

It’s a nine on ten car. But I will give it a seven.



Why?

The engine for one. Perhaps, as a diesel, it’d make a better all-round car than have this entertaining but thirsty petrol. I’d give it an eight as a diesel. But the Discovery has also fallen prey to a Land Rover that’s trying too hard to be Range Rover all through. Range Rover is luxury, posh, style. Land Rover is earthy, no-nonsense, humble. But in making the Discovery look like a Range Rover or an Evoque, Land Rover has robbed it of its own distinct character and ended up making it sound and look like the smaller, cheaper Discovery Sport.



Would you recommend it?

If you are serious about off-roading and don’t want to compromise with comforts and luxuries without having to pay crores for a Range Rover (about Rs 1.6 crore) or a Land Cruiser (about Rs 1.3 crore) or a Merc G-class (about Rs 2 crore). Compared to them the Discovery is incredible value for money. We just wished Land Rover wasn’t so eager to Range-Rover-ise the entire family.





Tech specs

Price: Rs 71.38 lakh to Rs 88.55 lakh

Engine: 2995cc supercharged V6 petrol

Power: 335bhp at 6500rpm

Torque: 450Nm at 3500-5000rpm

Transmission: 8A, AWD

Weight: 2223kg

Ground clearance: 283mm

Wading depth: 900mm



TG Performance tests

0-100kph: 8.3 seconds

80-0kph: 2.4 metres, 27 seconds

30-50kph: 2.1 seconds

50-70kph: 2.1 seconds



Fuel efficiency:

City: 4.6kpl, Highway: 6.2kpl


Verdict: The best luxury off-roader you could get for under eight figures



Sriram Narayanan

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