The all-wheel-drive system has two settings: a single-speed transfer box for road use and a two-speed for off-roading. Entry angle is now 34 degrees, 30 on the exit and 27 on break-over, with a riding height that varies by up to 40mm. Wading depth is 900mm and the car senses and selects the correct set-up by itself – perfect for the city dweller and occasional adventurer, and for the resident of extreme weather lands. It could even come in handy right here in Dubai when the rains come and the water has nowhere to go.
But what strikes me most of all with this First Edition, is how much Land Rover has focused on interior creature comforts. Other than the rearview mirror, the glove compartment and the central console storage bin lid, everything else is motorised. Even the steering, with its lane assist system, prevents the muscle fatigue that often blights longer journeys. We have an electrically operated tailgate, electric windows, electric side mirrors, soft door closing, three rows of motorised seats, motorised solar roof panels and an electric inner tailgate for bird watching or fishing rod rigging, that can withstand loads of up to 300kg when lowered.
The new Discovery really is here to make life easier for its owner – a perfect example being that, if you’re finding it a struggle to load your groceries or anything else into its boot, at the push of a button the car will regulate the height so that physical exertion is kept to the minimum possible level. Fantastic. And you don’t even need to be in the car to operate the controls to do all this – you can just install an app and do it all through your phone.
As for storage space, there is more than enough unless that is, you plan to live in the car. It even provides a handy space behind the hifi control fascia – ideal for safely housing a wallet, phone or anything else you want to keep hidden away. Fold down all the seats and you get 2,500 litres of boot space, which is a number more usually associated with pick-up trucks and, as we have come to expect in modern family cars, there are no fewer than nine USB sockets. Consider, too, the fact that the seats are cooled and ventilated, and you might end up wanting to host your meetings in the car rather than the coffee shop.
But let’s not forget that the Discovery is an adventurer’s car. And these people have horses, caravans, trampolines, boats or jet-skis, so towing capability is often vitally important. Good thing, then, that this friendly powerhouse can tow 3,500kg loads – again, pick-up truck territory. But of course, this is a Land Rover, so the tow-ball is electrically deployed. Amazing. And if all this still fails to convince yet of the Discovery’s good intentions, the tow assist function allows you to reverse a trailer via the centre console rotary control instead of the steering wheel.
The infotainment system also possesses new levels of integration. With a 10-inch touchscreen and 10Gb of internal drive on which to store your music, the system even allows you to transfer routes from your phone to the navigation system. For a daily commute, the Discovery can learn your driving patterns and suggest routes based on traffic conditions, share ETAs with your contacts and inform of your remaining travel time.
There’s plenty in the way of safety equipment, too, like autonomous emergency braking for pedestrians, obstacles and other cars, as well as blind spot monitoring, lane assist, reverse traffic detection and adaptive cruise control with queue assist. It even detects drowsiness on the part of the driver and gives warnings for you to take a break. And when you do come to a stop, there’s a 360-degree camera system for enhanced parking assist. It can also park itself but my fragile ego finds that too much to cope with so I leave it well alone.
Unfortunately, however, I cannot finish without referring to the painful matter of price. The Discovery First Edition starts at $88,000 (the base version starts at a more reasonable $64,000) and my test car’s spec sends it all the way up to $95,000 – who knows how much it would cost once you really started going mad with the options list.
Now, I did say at the beginning that the Discovery was a Range Rover Sport in disguise, pretty much, which is reflected in the price as well. Here, the Range Rover starts at $90,500, which is right there with the lesser brand. Yes, a Discovery at this price point will be better equipped than the base Rangie and it offers better value for money, but for a bit less cash you could enjoy more brand recognition if that’s something that motivates you. That is something I don’t care about, so I would choose the Discovery each and every time.
The new Discovery First Edition goes head-to-head with rivals such as the Volvo XC90 T8 and the Audi Q7. And although both are more modern in terms of technology, they don’t come close to the level of comfort at your disposal in the Land Rover, while being quite similarly priced. And this is while being fully cognizant that the Q7 normally pares with the pricier Range Rover.
That being said, the Discovery is a 5-star car through and through. We’ll have to wait another few months to see if a V8 variant is forthcoming but, in the meantime, the V6 does everything you could possibly ask of it with aplomb. For a vehicle that chews up the kilometres in hushed luxury and nestles its occupants in a stylish, safe and extremely sizable cabin, while maintaining true ‘go anywhere’ ability, you need look no further.
|Land Rover||Discovery First Edition|
|Engine:||2995cc, supercharged V6|
|Front suspension:||Double wishbone|
|Brakes:||360mm (front), 350mm (rear)|
|Wheels:||22-inch, forged alloy|
|Tyres:||285/40ZR22 (front and rear)|