The only Chelsea tractor that’s as at home running the kids to the school gates as it is on an adventure drive to Cairo. It’s hard to think of a car that offers such go-anywhere versatility, with seating for seven adults, a luxurious ambience inside and supreme ability off-road. There is now only one engine powering the Discovery, but that’s not an issue because it’s a good one. The 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel has the muscle to move the Discovery at a brisk enough pace, and it can be ordered with one of three trim levels: GS, XS and HSE. Our pick would be the XS, which adds cruise control and leather to the seats.
There’s a wealth of clever technology at work beneath the Discovery, which makes this the toughest car off-road. However, if Land Rover had such faith in the car’s robustness it would do more than offer a distinctly average three-year warranty. At least there is no upper limit on the mileage during this period.
This is a big car that looks great but appears to have been designed without consideration for optimising aerodynamic performance. It’s also heavy. The Discovery weighs 2,583kg — and, remember, that’s without seven people on board and a fair bit of luggage crammed into what’s left of the boot.
So the twin-turbo diesel engine has its work cut out. It boasts 252bhp, and more significantly 442 Ib ft torque at 2000rpm, which would be impressive if it weren’t blunted by the Discovery’s bulk. Consequently, performance in all areas is a tad too relaxed; 0-60mph in 9.6 seconds and a top speed of 112mph are off the pace figures. More relevant still is the fuel economy and emissions — 32.1mpg and 230g/km CO2 — both lagging behind rivals.
However, it’s a smooth engine and the eight-speed transmission is one of the best. Better still, the Discovery’s road manners are good. Its air suspension means it remains fairly flat around corners, the ride comfort is good and the system compensates for a fully laden car or when towing. Venture off-road and you have yourself the king of the hill. The abilities of the Discovery are such that few owners are likely to ever approach their limits off-road.
The Discovery 4 series greatly elevated the car’s cabin ambience. We especially like the piano-black lacquer finish, and the latest technology includes a dual-view infotainment touchscreen which, rather cleverly, allows the front passenger to watch a DVD while the driver looks at sat nav instructions or uses the hands-free phone.
The pièce de résistance is the seven individual seats. The back two rows fold independently and with all down, they sit flush in the floor, making this a workhorse when the need arises. The tailgate is split, so the upper glass section lifts skywards and the lower section drops down. This offers advantages — you can load bags by only opening the glass, or sit on the tailgate to take your boots off — but it also means loading heavy objects into the boot is a stretch.
What to look out for when buying a used Land Rover Discovery
This is where the Disco can fall down — quite badly in some cases. Air suspension compressors fail, sunroofs leak, multimedia screens pack up and rear-screen wipers go on the blink. Other potential maladies involve failed TDV6 engines and part-time electrics and electronics — especially the terrain response system and electronic parking brake. The Discovery’s questionable reliability is reflected in numerous recalls for a multitude of problems. Several revolve around fuel leaks and fire risks, and there’s also the spectre of seatbelt buckles not latching properly and brake servo glitches.
The One to Buy
Land Rover Discovery 4 3.0 SDV6 XS
- 2993cc, V6 twin-turbo diesel
- 252bhp @ 4000rpm
- 442 lb ft @ 2000rpm
- 8-speed automatic
- 0-60mph in 9.9sec
- Top Speed:
- Road Tax Band:
- L 4829mm, W 2176mm, H 1837mm