THE Land Rover Discovery may have gone a bit upmarket these days but now there is a new commercial model that offers all the creature comforts, combined with van-like practicality.
The Discovery Commercial is powered by a 3.0-litre 300hp V6 diesel unit with mild hybrid electric vehicle technology matched to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and customers can choose from two trim levels called SE or HSE, costing £58,460 and HSE £63,130.
A glance in the Discovery Commercial's direction and you will notice there is a distinct resemblance to the passenger vehicle, although business owners can have their company name added to the rear doors. From the outside that is the only real difference of note.
It is based on the facelifted 2020 Discovery and boasts the likes of redesigned bumpers, along with new LED headlights and tail lights.
Our car, in SE trim level, featured signature daytime running lights, animated directional indicators, privacy glass and special badging. Black roof rails, costing Â£330 extra, plus an electrically-deployable tow bar priced at Â£1,130, added to the vehicle's dynamic styling.
However, it's inside that the dramatic changes have taken place with the seats in rows two and three removed to open up a large load space area that is separated from the driver and front passenger by a metal partition.
The loading bay measures 1,638mm in length, 1,411mm in width and is 902mm high. It can carry a 2,024-litres load with a weight of up to 784kg.
The tailgate is power-operated and there is a fold out section that makes loading heavy or awkwardly-shaped items simpler or it is just ideal to sit on for a coffee break.
There are handy lockable compartments under the floor which is really practical if you are carrying valuable tools every day, and there are high sided rubber mats up front and a rubber mat in the back - all of which can be hosed down if they become too grubby.
Many Discovery Commercial owners will expect their vehicle to be an accomplished workhorse capable of driving across rough ground and there are no better vans out there than the Discovery at this.
Thanks to the tried and tested Terrain Response 2 system, the vehicle can wade through water up to 900mm in depth, climb steep hills, drop down slippery banks and clamber over rocks. So, a building site or farm environment should be a breeze.
And there is a wealth of on-board technology at your disposal too with the latest Pivi Pro infotainment system, along with an11.4-inch touchscreen, a 12-speaker Meridian surround sound system, two-zone climate control a 12.3-inch interactive driver display, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, DAB radio and a faster navigation system with 2D and 3D mapping.
When it comes to performance, the Discovery Commercial, with 300hp of power on tap and 650Nm of torque, is very quick out the blocks.
It can sprint from 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds - that's impressive for a van - and it tops out at 130mph.
The introduction of mild hybrid technology means there is a small electric motor added to the mix and this assists the engine and also helps to regenerate energy when braking. The official running costs are a combined 31.9mpg with carbon emissions of 232g/km.
And there are added financial savings too as the Discovery Commercial is classed as a light commercial vehicle so has fixed van tax rates. As a result, the first year VED will be just £275 and the Benefit in Kind rate for business users is based on a standard flat rate of £3,500.
When it comes to handling, the Discovery Commercial will be one of the most refined vans on the road. It handles beautifully with good grip into bends, minimal body sway and nice acceleration through the gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddles for extra driver engagement.
The list of safety features is comprehensive and includes blind spot assist, cruise control with speed limiter, lane keep assist, emergency braking, rear traffic monitor, traffic sign recognition, adaptive speed limiter, clear exit monitor, wade sensing, a 3D surround camera, a driver condition monitor and airbags.
The only real downside is that as an LCV, the Discovery Commercial has to be driven within the speed limits for that class of vehicle and that means 10mph slower on dual carriageways and some single lane roads. Also, the driver visibility is not great with the solid rear doors blocking out the over-the-shoulder view and the criss-cross partition partly obscuring the rear view.
But those minor gripes aside, and of course the fairly hefty price-tag, and the Discovery Commercial is quite a catch and will certainly attract plenty of attention from pick-up fans with the likes of VW, Fiat and Mercedes withdrawing from that sector.