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Land Rover Discovery — long-term review
Well before this Discovery joined our fleet last year, Paul Horrell group tested one against a Volvo XC90 and Audi Q7. I spoke to him the following day and asked him what was going to win. The Disco, he reckoned, but only by a hair.
After eight months and over 20,000 miles in OE66 XOV, I’ve been asking myself the same question. And I have the same answer. I’d have the Disco, but only by a hair. I know, especially having spent time in Jack’s SQ7, that the Audi is way better to drive, better built and more suited to my life. And that the XC90 is the best family wagon.
But what I liked about the Disco was the feeling that it was always on your side, was honest and would work hard in a tight spot. Remind you of anything? The old Disco 4 was the same, only there what you saw was what you got. It was totally fit for purpose. Here, the luxury and tech cloak the capabilities. Hidden away behind the daft rear tailgate design and the gremlins that lurk inside the InControl Touch Pro (ICTP) system is a good workhorse.
I don’t want to dwell too long on the issues I’ve had, as when I stand back and look at the last few months, what I see is a car that’s performed admirably, but Lurch (family nickname) has tried my patience. Draw your own conclusions from this…
I’ve kept a fuel log. The trip computer suggests it’s returned 29.1mpg overall. That’s not great, but it hasn’t been doing that. It’s actually been doing 26.4mpg. Which is poor. I only get 430-odd miles from a 75-litre fill-up costing over £90. And means the trip computer is out by getting on for 10 per cent, which is inexcusable. And guess how much I was quoted for an oil change service (that turned out to be a faulty alert)? £565. That’s nuts.
The ICTP screen is hopeless: horribly slow, clunky to use, glitchy, often refuses to recognise my phone. It’s caused me to pull over, turn off, lock, wait, unlock and turn on again more times than I care to mention. Mine’s not unique: everyone I’ve spoken to with a Disco 5 erupts when ICTP is mentioned. There are other frustrations: filling with Adblue is awkward, the electric flip-down tailgate seat had to be pulled down manually, the tailgate has downward curving pointed corners which claimed victims and all anyone ever, ever wanted to talk about was the rear numberplate.
From inside I was oblivious, and as long as my phone was controlling navigation and podcasts were playing, I was happy to admire Lurch’s calm cruising, clever hidden storage and steadiness under pressure. Because when I leant on him, he came good. Filled with boys and hung with bikes, yanking vans out of snowdrifts or towing the Nomad 2,000 miles through France (it’s been to the continent five times), on those occasions Lurch just knuckled down and revealed a toughness that’s superficially hidden behind such luxury tidbits as the surround cameras, cool box and electric folding seats (I came round to these in the end. Being able to lift and drop them via the touchscreen or app turns out to be very handy).
But the important thing is that the electronic decoration is just that. And behind it, Lurch was huge, slightly cumbersome, but warm-hearted and eager to work hard and do the right thing. But sometimes it’d balls it up and leave you feeling annoyed and frustrated.
Superficially it had its problems, but when the going got tough, it got tough right back.