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Land Rover Discovery
The Top Gear car review:Land Rover Discovery
What is it like on the road?
Imperious. That’s the new Disco, in its comfort zone, steadfastly cruising down a motorway or flowing A-road, master of all it surveys. But we are talking about the V6 turbodiesels here. First off, let’s dispel the myth that now the disco’s shed mass, you can get away with the four-cylinder diesel. This is still a 2.1-tonne car before it’s had options applied, and the 2.0-litre engine is too strained to make that kind of work feel effortless, even before you’ve filled each of the seven seats with occupants or dreamt of hitching up a trailer to take advantage of the class-leading 3500kg towing capacity.
The V6 is far more appropriate for the Disco’s more luxurious bent these days. It develops 258bhp and 443lb ft, returns mid-30s to the gallon in real-world driving and builds momentum smoothly, working superbly with the eight-speed automatic gearbox in all situations except for very quick getaways, there the drivetrain needs a second or two to show its working before you’re propelled forward with a distant thrum.
The Discovery rides tremendously well, expertly controlling its huge wheels and tyres as they deal with pot-holes. There’s nothing about the driving experience that’d every convince you it’s a car to press on in – this is no wannabe Porsche Cayenne – but the pay-off is truly regal open road transport. Like we said, imperious.
Things are less blissful in town, where the Disco’s sheer size and poor visibility make it an intimidating car to use. If yours is going to live an urban life, maybe consider the far wieldier (not to mention cheaper) Discovery Sport, which will also seat seven, at a pinch.
Off road, there’s quite simply no better car around today. It’s the effortlessness that’s so compelling. The Discovery will monitor what surface it’s trekking over and adjust its differentials, traction control, ride height, throttle response, gearbox mode and more to best deal with the given terrain.
Sure, you can still pick specific modes like rock crawl or desert mode, but why would you, when the Terrain Response software is so spectacularly clever? No car on sale today will make novices look more expert in the rough. Take the wading depth as one example. The reason it’s limited to 900mm is that going any deeper would cause this giant leviathan to actually float.
And for those with the muddiest welly boots and deepest pockets, a small number of Discoverys are getting Land Rover’s ‘Special Vehicle Operations’ treatment, under the banner ‘SVX’. You’ll spot these versions via an altitude sickness-spec ride height, knobbly tyres, orange bodywork and the small matter of a 520bhp supercharged V8 under the bonnet. School runs in the Cotswolds and certain parts of Surrey might never be the same again…