Land Rover Discovery overview
The Land Rover Discovery has led the way as the firm's large family SUV since 1989, and the current seven-seat model - introduced in 2017 - has just received a mid-life update. We say facelift, but you'll struggle to spot the differences from the outside, because the main focus has been on adding Land Rover's latest infotainment systems and more efficient engines.
The updates do introduce new bumper designs front and rear, as well as new LED headlights and taillights, while an R-Dynamic trim package is now offered across the range that adds dark chrome accents and extra gloss-black trim. It's the introduction of the new 11.4-inch Pivi Pro infotainment touchscreen in the cabin that's the most obvious change. This comes with advanced connectivity options and includes over-the-air updates, which will enable Land Rover to improve and upgrade the Discovery's software without the need to go to a dealer. A twin-modem set-up allows multiple functions - such as streaming media or checking live traffic updates - to take place at the same time.
Other updates include improved cabin storage, iPad holders mounted on the front seat backs, an air ionisation system to filter fresh air and a revised middle row with improved comfort and electric folding.
Engine updates see the introduction of straight-six petrol and diesel engines with 48-volt mild-hybrid tech to help boost emissions while maintaining responsiveness and towing weights. The P360 has a 360hp petrol unit, while the D250 diesel makes 249hp and the D300 has, unsurprisingly, 300hp. As before, all Discovery models come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, permanent four-wheel drive, air suspension and Land Rover's advanced Terrain Response 2 electronics that optimise the car for any off-road conditions.
The biggest rival for the Discovery comes from within Land Rover itself in the shape of the Defender. The five-door 110 model is available as a seven-seater - although the rearmost row is tighter than you'll find in a Discovery - while the recently revealed Defender 130 has an eight-seat option. Other seven-seat premium SUVs include the Audi Q7, BMW X5, Mercedes GLE and Volvo XC90, although none of these are as spacious in the rearmost row as the Discovery. The only car that can match it is the Tesla Model X, although it won't get anywhere near the Discovery off road.
Here we're driving the D250 version of the Discovery in R-Dynamic SE trim.
The Land Rover Discovery model range
Irish pricing for the Land Rover Discovery starts at €69,669, although this is for the two-seat Commercial version. If you want a seven-seater, then that jumps to an even more substantial starting price of €109,279.
As you'd expect, a tag that high for the 'entry-level' R-Dynamic S model means you're not left wanting for equipment. There are automatic LED lights front and rear, 20-inch wheels, auto wipers, keyless entry, a powered tailgate, heated electrically adjustable mirrors, electrically adjustable leather-trimmed seats, two-zone climate control, 360-degree cameras with front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot assist, the new 11.4-inch Pivi Pro touchscreen infotainment and the Terrain Response 2 system.
Next up is SE, which has largely the same stuff, save for 21-inch wheels, an upgraded Meridian sound system, gloss-black cabin trim instead of a dark aluminium finish, different exterior trim and premium LED headlights with high beam assist. If you want the upgraded looks of R-Dynamic, then the R-Dynamic SE is around €6,500 extra.
At the top of the range, the R-Dynamic HSE pulls out the stops, with matrix LED headlights, 22-inch wheels, higher-grade leather for upgraded 20-way adjustable heated and cooled seats and an even higher-spec Meridian sound system. This adds a premium of around €9,750 to R-Dynamic SE.
All four trim levels are available with each engine, and you'll need to add a premium of €4,200 for the P360 petrol option, or around €7,000 for the D300 diesel. However, unless you need a sub-seven second 0-100km/h sprint time from your seven-seat SUV, we think the D250 offers enough performance for most needs. It's worth noting that the Discovery Commercial only comes with the D300 diesel, though.
Land Rover is promoting leasing as the best way to get behind the wheel of one of its cars, where you pay an advanced rental and then a monthly fee to drive a Discovery, but that means you must hand the car back at the end of the agreement. For more information, go to the Land Rover Ireland website.
The Land Rover Discovery interior
The big update for the Discovery is its new Pivi Pro infotainment system, and it certainly looks the business and works very well, too. The home screen splits into three columns for navigation, phone and audio controls, while a home button in the bottom right gets you back to the main menu quickly. Other functions are available on a single menu screen, while shortcut buttons help locate functions such as the 360-degree camera system and off-road driving modes quickly. We're not so keen on the part-analogue instruments, though, as there's a frustrating interface when you want to change what's viewed between the dials.
The Discovery's main selling point remains intact, because there's still acres of space inside and it feels like a premium product, almost matching Range Rover in that regard. There's a deep sense of luxury courtesy of the upmarket materials used throughout. One particular highlight are the solid metal gear shifters, although ironically, they're hardly ever needed when driving.
Up front, there is lots of storage space, and it's very cleverly designed. The door pockets are only ok for space, but the centre console is a marvel, with a multi-layer main bin that is seriously deep, then more hidden compartments under the cupholders and even behind the climate controls - although that's not the easiest to open. Another minor gripe we have is with the new drive selector - we really liked the old rotary knob, but it's been replaced by a less appealing lever.
Move further back, and there's buckets of space, and adults will happily be able to fit in the rearmost seats, even if it's not very elegant getting in and out. The middle row is also huge, with plenty of room for three adults, while ISOFIX mounts are found on the outer rear seats, as well as on the front passenger seat. The middle row is all electrically adjustable, too, although the folding is slow when compared with cars where you have to drop the seats manually.
The Land Rover Discovery driving experience
A high driving position offers a commanding view of the road ahead, while the inclusion of 360-degree cameras that offer a 3D view of the Discovery and its surroundings mean it's a lot easier to place this vast 4x4 than you might expect when you consider its external dimensions. It's not that tricky to climb aboard, either; if you put the Discovery into its lowest 'Access' mode, which lowers the height of the car by 50mm to help you get in.
The air suspension is also a revelation when you're hustling the Discovery at higher speeds. On a ridiculously bumpy bad road in the mountains, it was unbelievably competent, even maintaining control of the big wheels under severe provocation and bumps. Most cars would have to slow down on such a road, but not the Discovery. And when the roads are smoother, it's still incredibly competent. It feels wrong to push such a tall and heavy vehicle hard, but the Discovery certainly feels up to the job.
Take things easy, and the Discovery is remarkably smooth and refined and whisper quiet at a cruise - that's despite the huge cross-section of the tyres and the lack of double-glazed side glass found on rivals.
As ever, Land Rover knows its stuff when heading off-road. The Terrain Response 2 system is simplicity in itself to set up, with a rotary selector on the console that rises up to allow you to select the type of ground you're covering. While we didn't venture far off the beaten track, you can be sure that the Discovery will get further into the wilderness than most owners are every likely to want to travel.
Land Rover's new 3.0-litre straight-six engines are great. They offer thumping torque and plenty of grunt when you want it, and acceleration is effortless as a result. The D300 and P360 engines are properly fast, although we'd just as easily recommend the D250, which is quick enough as it is.
There are drive mode settings, but switching to the 'S' mode of the gearbox seems superfluous, as it just makes for more down-changing when actually you just want to use the engine's torque to make progress.
The downside to the arrival of these straight-six powerplants is that they're not very efficient, even with the introduction of 48-volt mild-hybrid tech. We reckon you could manage 8.0 litres/100km if you were careful, but that would be a rarity.
Our verdict on the Land Rover Discovery
As a concept - i.e. a large heavy diesel SUV - the Land Rover Discovery is starting to feel dated, but obviously there is still demand for such a thing, and the updates make it more appealing and feel more luxurious than before. The new infotainment set-up is great to use, and the cabin space in particular is the Discovery's major selling point. Overall, it's a brilliant tow car and workhorse in particular, with a side of luxury and serious big-family carrying capacity. It's difficult not to be impressed by its breadth of capability, although it's arguable that the Land Rover Defender offers all of the same attributes in a more handsome and distinctive package.