Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: August 30, 2017
The new Land Rover Discovery is a Range Rover in everything but the name, and we’re talking about the big daddy Range Rover, not the Sport. They lie on the same aluminum body and steel subframe platform, use the same cabin design, steering wheel (without a leather center cap), seating position, wide window sill ledges for resting your arm, switches, gear rotary dial, and leather seating - it’s all there. Even massaging seats are available. I’d even call the Discovery more practical than the Range Rover, with seven seats (compared to five in the Range), each of which are electronically foldable, and more cargo space.
Though the styling is borrowed heavily from the Discovery Sport, the full-size Discovery looks more like the Range Rover Velar from the A pillar forward, owing to the heavily raked windshield with similar grills and headlights. The Black Package with blacked out badging, grill, fender vents, side mirrors, and wheel spokes, makes a huge difference turning this into a more aggressive looking SUV.
It seats seven passengers, so if you have a big family and want to haul them around this is one of the only options you get - sure the Discovery Sport and Range Rover Sport have an optional third row but it’s incredibly cramped and really only meant for small children and short journeys. This Discovery has enough room to comfortably seat four adults, and each of the three rows is available with heated seats. Don’t need the third row? You can also opt for a five-passenger configuration when ordering.
Practicality and maximum hauling is the Discovery’s mojo. Each of the three rows is spacious enough to accommodate even the 80th percentile. I stand six-feet tall and am able to sit comfortably in the third row with extra headroom and legroom to spare. There’s even a second sunroof back there, which creates the illusion of a bigger and more spacious interior.
Accessing the third row isn’t as easy as a minivan, though. Ingress is hampered by a high step-in, even though the air suspension lowers the vehicle when parked, and limited movement of the second row seat. You can hit a button to electronically fold the seatback, but seat bottom movement needs a manual push. Even with the second row seat out of the way, the portal of entry is fairly tight.
Compared to the outgoing LR4, the new Discovery is high tech haven. For example, you can adjust any of the rear seats electronically from the infotainment screen or via an app on your smartphone. This means you can fold them without getting out of your cozy seat, and even drop the headrests if you have trouble parking and seeing out the back, the latter feature which I’ve only seen available in Volvos. This is a godsend for anyone that has kids and wants to pre-position the seats without getting out of the car to do it manually.
Storage space is also heavily improved over the outgoing LR4. The side cubbies are much bigger, the HVAC control panel in the center stack can be ejected to reveal a hidden cubby behind like the outgoing Escalades and Tahoes with their “drug cubby”. There are also many dedicated vertical slots for smartphones lingering around the center console as well, and six 12V power sockets and nine USB charging points that are spread throughout the cabin to ensure every passenger has maximum connectivity.
The tailgate works a little differently than the Range Rover. The Discovery utilizes a one piece tailgate but has an inner electronically operated tailgate that folds out for easier cargo loading and makes for a nice platform or bench for sitting at a drive-in movie theatre. With the keyfob in your pocket, you can also kick your feet under the rear bumper to automatically open the tailgate as well - helpful when your hands are full of groceries.
The seven-seater Discovery makes a compelling argument against the Range Rover premium - if you don’t care about the badge or bragging that you own a celebrity-style Range Rover, then the Discovery will take you to new heights of what a proper SUV is capable of. In fact, the only way the Discovery differs from the Range, other than with badge prestige and subtle interior alterations, is driving dynamics, more specifically the suspension damping and gearbox programming. Shifts in the Discovery were noticeably choppier and not as seamless when accelerating hard. It reminded me of the tuning in the Jaguar F-Pace - it’s not pleasant but gets the job done.
The Discovery does not ride with the same elegance on the road, and the large 22-inch wheels don’t much either. This comes from someone who has spent hundreds of hours behind the wheel of Range Rovers before, and I can confidently report that the Discovery’s road manners not as refined over bumps and potholes.
The Discovery’s brakes don’t feel as confident stopping this hunk of an SUV either. It’s like pushing your foot into a stuffed pillow and trying to modulate the amount of force you need with this inconsistent mush. This makes for top heavy lunges and last minute hard braking situations before you get used to the pedal force required.
On the bright side, it is ten times improved over the outgoing LR4, though I do miss the look of that square shape, G-Wagon-like military stance. Gone is body on frame, and in its place is the unibody structure. The new Discovery is noticeably more aerodynamic and much lighter as well, nearly 500 kg lighter, thanks to a new platform and architecture, which nets it better fuel economy. We averaged 12.7 L/100km over 500 km/h of an equal mix of city and highway driving. At current gas prices, one tank lasted us just over 500 km, and costed us a tick over $80 for a full tank of 91-octane. Not bad when compared to the 14.4 L/100km we averaged in the last V6 LR4 that we tested.
The supercharged V6 engine is carried over from the LR4 - potent but only just keeps this Discovery from feeling sluggish. Highway passes still need the pedal to the metal, and don’t expect the Discovery to feel lithe or athletic pushing down the straights. It’s unwieldy if you swing it too fast around corners too, though the air suspension does a fantastic job keeping the body as level as possible. Not sure if Land Rover ever plans on putting the supercharged V8 under the hood. I highly doubt it, as that premium is normally left for the Range Rovers and would hike the Discovery’s price point past the golden $100,000 marker anyway. There is a turbodiesel V6 (Td6) available - you can read about which one we like better. Oddly enough, the diesel also commands a premium of $2,000 over the gasoline V6.
Every vehicle isn’t without its minor faults, and the Discovery is no exception. We didn’t appreciate how the center dials would display a vented seat icon even if it wasn’t equipped on your vehicle - not sure if this tease is worse or a blank button. We also didn’t like how you cannot use voice command to input destinations, meaning you have to input addresses manually. There’s also much more wind noise seeping into the interior than the Range Rovers, possibly due to its boxier shape.
Pricing for the Discovery with the supercharged V6 is quite parallel with the smaller Range Rover Velar, with a starting price of $61,500 for the base SE model, $68,500 for mid-tier HSE, and up to $75,000 for the top of the line HSE Luxury trim. Our HSE tester had a price tag of $91,275, with over $22,000 over unnecessary options. It was loaded to the brim with the Complete Dynamic Design Package with contrasting 22-inch wheels, leather interior, titanium mesh panel trim, ebony headlining, an active rear locking differential, and an advanced Terrain Response 2 driving system that automatically monitors and optimally adjusts the vehicle depending on driving conditions.
With that money, you can get a lightly loaded Range Rover Sport, or a skim Mercedes-Benz GLS 450, or a BMW X5 with cash to spare, but the Discovery has the upper hand with a superior driving position, a spacious third row, off-road prowess, and a wealth of family-friendly technology. The engine choices are limited with a V8 out of the books, and without “Range” in the name, it may not seem as prestigious to some. Choose your poison, but we would find ourselves sitting in the Discovery (even the back row), not envious of other Range Rovers, but delighted to be on par.
型号 Model: 2017 Land Rover Discovery HSE Si6
顏色 Paint Type: Silicon Silver
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $68,500
試車售價 Price as Tested: $91,275
引擎 Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 340 hp
最高扭力 Torque: 332 lb-ft
波箱 Transmission: 8-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4WD
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.7
輪胎尺碼 Tires: CrossContact LX Sport