Land Rover Discovery

2017 - First Drive

Land Rover Discovery, 2017, off road, climbing
Land Rover Discovery, 2017, wading
Land Rover Discovery, 2017, side
Land Rover Discovery, 2017, off road, rear
Land Rover Discovery, 2017, side, action
Land Rover Discovery, 2017, front, action
Land Rover Discovery, 2017, front
Land Rover Discovery, 2017, rear, action
Land Rover Discovery, 2017, interior
Land Rover Discovery, 2017, Td6 engine
Land Rover Discovery, 2017, rear seats
Land Rover Discovery, 2017, middle seats

WHEN Land Rover describes its latest model as the "most capable and versatile vehicle ever produced by the company" then it definitely deserves closer inspection - after all this is the marque that brought us the go-anywhere Defender.

The vehicle in question is the latest generation Discovery which replaces the outgoing Discovery 4 and it would seem buyers are queuing up to sign on the dotted line.

In fact, there have already been 25,000 global orders - 5,215 in the UK alone - and this for a vehicle that has been on sale for just over a month.

It would be fair to say the ‘old' Discovery 4 is a tough act to follow with its all-conquering terrain capabilities, seven-seat versatility and premium styling, but Land Rover believes the latest model really raises the bar in the full-sized SUV stakes.

The new Discovery is lighter, more aerodynamic, more efficient and packed with new technology to help deliver the complete package for active families who want a car that can tackle any obstacle but still look flashy enough to have neighbours twitching at the curtains.

A lightweight construction has resulted in weight savings of 480kg and that pound-shedding means carbon emissions start from as low as 171g/km.

Prices start from £43,495 and when it comes to design the Discovery has been completely transformed.

It is longer, narrower and lower than its predecessor and boasts a more modern look. The headlight clusters are neater and the big square-end design has been rounded off with a traditionally-shaped number plate off-set left.

The split tailgate has been ditched but part of the boot floor folds out and makes a handy perch for two adults whilst they admire the view or remove muddy boots.

Flexibility and practicality have always been key attributes on Discovery models and once again the car offers stadium seating for seven occupants so as the company explained "everyone has the best seat in the house".

However a new feature is the ease in which seats in rows two and three can be raised or lowered. This can be achieved electrically by pressing buttons in the boot, using the touchscreen or even via an App on a smartphone. All seats in the vehicle are heated too for extra comfort.

And when it comes to storage the boot can cater for a whopping 2,500 litres of luggage with the seats in rows two and three dropped flat. In addition there are dozens of storage options scattered throughout the car - some you will have to search for such as the giant box underneath the cup holders.

With the modern day family in mind together with all their multi-media needs the latest Discovery has nine USB ports, 3G Wi-Fi and is capable of hosting eight separate devices at the same time.

And the Discovery is the toughest and most capable model to date with 3.5-tonne towing capabilities.

It can wade through water up to 900mm deep (an increase of 200mm over Disco 4), has ground clearance of 284mm and features Land Rover's multi-mode Terrain Response 2 system which makes tackling tough off-roading a doddle for even the more inexperience drivers.

We tried out the latest model on a varied road route and then set to take on the challenge of off-road terrains.

The car was the 3.0-litre TD6 diesel version in HSE Luxury trim costing £64,195 (£75,570 with options). It could reach from 0-60mph in 7.7 seconds, maxed out at 130mph and, according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 39.2mpg with carbon emissions of 189g/km.

Despite the weight loss, the Discovery is still a pretty large beast, but that is not reflected in the handling.

It is agile and very easy to manoeuvre with outstanding all-round visibility. Even on 21-inch wheels the ride was confident and it certainly feels more composed than the outgoing model meaning it can be pushed harder into bends with confidence.

The improved aerodynamics means a vast reduction in wind noise and very little engine or road surface sounds filter through into the cabin.

But don't be fooled into thinking the Discovery just ambles along - it has a real turn of pace and makes very light work of overtaking at short notice. The gear changing is slick and smooth and the car's excellent suspension irons out any bumps along the way.

We then put the car through a rigorous off-road course where it was asked to climb rocks, crawl up a set of steps, wade through water and traverse muddy banks at ridiculously steep side angles.

Of course, it passed every challenge with flying colours and you walk away from the car feeling close to invincible.

And that's just how Land Rover sees its latest model. It has taken all the attributes of the old models and moved forward at quite a pace.

The result is a seemingly indestructible vehicle that offers all the luxury and connectivity options of a modern day car combined with the safety, technology and brute force of an all-terrain vehicle.

And on that matter, the Discovery has just been awarded the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety ratings.

My only slightly negative thought after being wowed by the vehicle's amazing capabilities is its move away from traditional design. Personally I liked the instantly-recognisable, box-shaped rear end of the older model. In contrast, new Discovery looks ultra-modern, but I'm sure the fresh design will grow on me in time.

The Discovery has been around for 27 years now attracting more than 1.2 million buyers and now Land Rover believes its new fifth generation model can easily live up to the company's desire to go Above and Beyond.

The way sales are notching up, they could well be right.

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