Published on March 10th, 2017 | by Amirul Mukminin0
2017 Land Rover Discovery Review: A Strong Athlete in a Suit
Since day one, the Discovery has been a household name when it comes to vehicles that can practically do everything on any given road surface. Though one could argue that it has gone softer, the Discovery has managed to maintain its all-terrain prowess from one generation to another. The fifth-generation model, which made its debut in September 2016, takes things up a notch in every sense.
It is an all-new model and by “all-new”, we do mean the Discovery is more than just a fresh take of the sturdy LR4 it replaces. The SUV is built from ground up with a new lightweight aluminium platform that shaves off a substantial amount of weight, to a range of improved technologies and drivetrains, and rounded off with a rather sensible package.
We went to Utah to find out ourselves how much the Discovery has improved and right off the bat, the SUV oozes sleekness through every crease and line of its body. The slim headlights and rear lights are no stranger to the brand but they are definitely new to the lineup. The automaker says it is targeting customers who are new to the brand with the 2017 Discovery and we say there is no better way to pull them in than having a good looking offering such as this.
Keeping true to its rich heritage, the seven-seater retains the Discovery DNA including the trademark stepped roof and unique C-pillar design. The former provides ample headroom in the third row seating, while a choice of panoramic roof options available for Discovery creates a feeling of spaciousness inside the cabin. If there is no luggage to carry, the third row accommodates two average-sized adults comfortably.
One of the highlights of the cabin is the new Intelligent Seat Fold technology that allows the second and third row seats to be configured in four ways using switches located within the luggage area or the main touchscreen in the dashboard. With the former, you can now fold or unfold the seats while standing behind the vehicle. Even more impressive is the fact that this technology can be also operated remotely via the InConnect Touch smartphone app.
The rest of the interior is kept simple and functional, just like the dashboard where the 10-inch touchscreen for the InControl Touch Pro infotainment system is housed. The centre console may seem a little busy with two rotary knobs and a bunch of buttons related to the vehicle’s dynamics, though everything is placed within reach and figuring out which button to push without taking your eyes off the road won’t take long.
As for the construction, the monocoque body is made up of 85% aluminium and 43% of it is recycled. Instead of using the Evoque platform like the Discovery Sport, this one shares the same platform as the full-size Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The setup also provides enough room for a full-size spare tyre underneath the rear floor.
Measuring 4,970 mm long, 2,220 mm wide and 1,846mm tall, the Discovery is 141 mm longer but both narrower and lower than the LR4. Its wheelbase has also been increased by 38 mm to 2,923 mm, which means more space for the passengers in second and third row. All in all, the SUV managed to lose some 480 kg but at around 2.1 tonnes it is no lightweight.
Heavy or not, Land Rover is offering the Discovery with a range of powerful drivetrains that are capable of moving the aluminium-laden vehicle with vigour. We had the chance to sample both six-cylinders that will be offered on the market, namely the Si6 petrol and Td6 diesel.
The former features a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 that churns out 340 PS and 450 Nm of torque, enabling it to sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds. The latter, on the other hand, has a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine with 258 PS. Despite having more torque (600 Nm to be exact), the century sprint time is completed a full second slower than the Si6.
Regardless of the engines, all variants of the Discovery are equipped with a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission that has been tuned for smooth shifting and slick operation, so we’ve been told. Thanks to the closely spaced ratios, gear changes are done seamlessly in a fraction of a second and the jolts seem to be soaked up really well even when the vehicle is running on Sport mode or in situations where multiple downshifts are needed.
On the freeway, both the Si6 and Td6 seem to demonstrate the same level of performance in the sense that both accelerate with minimal exertion despite weighing more than two tonnes. In the sandy part of the state, it is fair to say that the Td6 has the upper hand thanks to its torquey demeanour that proved to be very useful on the dry river bed and sand dunes – the kind of place the Discovery is built for.
The SUV has an impressive range of off-road-oriented goodies including a two-speed transfer box, providing high and low range gears for the best of both worlds. The system splits torque evenly between the front and rear wheels as standard, or varies it depending on conditions. It can be activated on the move, at speeds of up to 60 km/h.
All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) helps the driver concentrate on steering the vehicle while it takes control of the vehicle’s throttle and brakes. The technology is best used in a situation where you need to progress slowly, climbing a steep rock, for instance. With feet off the pedals, all we had to do was to point the nose of the vehicle in the right direction, with guidance from the Land Rover instructors.
For other types of surfaces, be it icy, grassy, rocky or muddy, the Discovery has it all covered with the next-generation Terrain Response 2. The system optimises the throttle mapping, steering, suspension and traction control to suit the driving conditions. Our test vehicles did everything on standard all-terrain tyres so let’s just agree that the system knows its stuff.
The optional air suspension is supple on the tarmac and forgiving on a not-so-forgiving surface. The setup deals with undulations and uneven surfaces in a calm manner, soaking up vibrations before we can even feel it. Even better, it has a wide range of adjustment to help the Discovery overcome Utah’s extreme landscapes.
The air suspension lifts the vehicle body by up to 40 mm at speeds between 50 and 80 km/h and goes to a full 75 mm at speeds below 50 km/h, further increasing the ground clearance for off-roading. From the original height, the setup can be lowered by up to 60 mm for easier loading access. Additionally, the new Speed Lowering function helps the vehicle to stretch every drop of fuel by automatically reducing the ride height by 13 mm from 105 km/h and above.
After covering more than 600 km, we can vouch for the Discovery’s capability of doing many great things on different kind of surfaces. Perhaps the best thing about it is that the SUV does all that while looking good, like that handsome kid at your school who takes part in multiple sporting events. But is it better than the LR4 in every sense, you ask? We don’t have a clear-cut answer but you can probably tell from the photos as well as the technical specs that the new offering is more inviting and more accomplished.
Land Rover Discovery HSE Si6 Specifications
Engine: V6 supercharged petrol
Capacity: 2,995 cc
Power: 340 PS @ 6,500 rpm
Torque: 450 Nm @ 3,500 – 5,000 rpm
Transmissiom: 8-speed automatic with low range
0-100 km/h: 7.1 seconds
Top speed: 215 km/h
Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6 Specifications
Engine: V6 common rail diesel
Capacity: 2,993 cc
Power: 258 PS @ 3,750 rpm
Torque: 600 Nm @ 1,750 – 2,250 rpm
Transmissiom: 8-speed automatic with low range
0-100 km/h: 8.1 seconds
Top speed: 209 km/h