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Land Rover Discovery big beast... but very handsome one

Fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery is the classiest, and most imposing, yet but remains luxurious on road and supremely capable off it. Picture: Land Rover

Fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery is the classiest, and most imposing, yet but remains luxurious on road and supremely capable off it. Picture: Land Rover

Land Rover

Land Rover's fifth-generation Discovery is hugely imposing and equally impressive to drive and live with motoring editor Andy Russell's only (minor) niggle that offset rear numberplate!

Land Rover Discovery's offset rear numberplate divides opinion. Picture: Land RoverLand Rover Discovery's offset rear numberplate divides opinion. Picture: Land Rover

When I first saw pictures of the new fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery, and even more so in the metal alongside the previous model, I was shocked how much bigger and more imposing it looks.

There now seems to be a blurring of boundaries between Land Rover and Range Rover styling – Land Rover was more country lifestyle, Range Rover more cosmopolitan luxury.

Looks and image

Land Rover Discovery is a big, handsome beast. Picture: Land RoverLand Rover Discovery is a big, handsome beast. Picture: Land Rover

The Discovery has always been classless. Jeans and wellies or suited and booted, you’re fine turning up in a Discovery. But, over the generations, the Discovery has been moving upmarket and this is the classiest yet.

Sizewise, it’s a big beast but a handsome one especially with optional exterior design packs – bigger 20 to 22in black or satin dark grey wheels and black grille, bumper vents and door mirror caps – which really set off the test car’s Namib Orange body colour but you soon add a few grand to the price.

I’m not sure about the offset rear number plate – it’s looks odd without the traditional step in the bottom of the back screen to balance it.

Even the rearmost seats are suitable for adults. Picture: Land RoverEven the rearmost seats are suitable for adults. Picture: Land Rover

Under the bonnet

Lightweight aluminium has cut 480kg and that’s good news with the debut of a new 240PS, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel, also with eight-speed automatic gearbox, the only engine in a £43,995 entry S model.

If you want the 258hp, 3.0-litre, V6 turbo diesel – the big seller – or 340hp, 3.0-litre, V6 supercharged petrol you have to step up to SE, HSE or HSE Luxury. Then the bigger diesel costs £1,500 more – a price many will pay for slightly better performance and it still returned a respectable 34mpg.

With the third-row seats folded into the boot floor there are up to 1,137 litres of load space. Picture: Land RoverWith the third-row seats folded into the boot floor there are up to 1,137 litres of load space. Picture: Land Rover

How it drives

Air suspension is standard – not optional as on many rivals – and a big part of why it’s so good on and off-road, with the added bonus of raising and lowering the ride height for extra ground clearance or making getting in and out easier.

With suspension geared for comfort, more than 2.2 tonnes of big 4x4 wafts along like a luxury saloon. It also makes decent progress on challenging twisty roads, controlling body roll at speed, after some initial lean, and remaining composed over dips and crests.

Should you desire to get your Discovery dirty, Terrain Response modes to match driving conditions and surfaces, full-time four-wheel drive with low ratios, a higher, class-leading 283mm of ground clearance and wading depth now up to 900mm make it even more capable off-road. You can also have a system that sets the crawl speed at up to 19mph so you concentrate on steering.

The five rear seats fold flat to create a huge load compartment. Picture: Land RoverThe five rear seats fold flat to create a huge load compartment. Picture: Land Rover

Space and comfort

All seven standard seats are suitable for adults, unlike some rivals, although it helps to be nimble to get into the third row – the middle row slides 160mm to juggle legroom from abundant to adequate for all.

The higher the spec, the more electric and heated seats you get – in HSE Luxury you can raise and lower the 60/40 second and 50/50 third row seats via boot and C-pillar control panel, the fascia 10in touchscreen or even a smartphone app.

The dashboard has been decluttered with a new infotainment system doing away with many switches. Picture: Land RoverThe dashboard has been decluttered with a new infotainment system doing away with many switches. Picture: Land Rover

Boot space depends on passengers – 258 litres with all seats in use, 1,137 litres behind the second row and 2,406 litres with all five folded flat.

The powered tailgate is no longer a split one – instead a fold-down section, able to bear 300kg, at the back of the load bay drops flat electrically.

At the wheel

Hidden storage compartment behind the climate control panel. Picture: Land RoverHidden storage compartment behind the climate control panel. Picture: Land Rover

The dashboard is less cluttered with the new infotainment system and touchscreen cutting centre console switches by a third. It’s relatively easy to navigate but not the most responsive.

Storage space is plentiful and I love the hidden compartment behind the climate control panel.

The driver’s seat and steering have a wide range of adjustment so all will feel at home in the commanding driving position and visibility is good, boosted parking sensors on SE, rear camera on HSE and surround camera system on HSE Luxury.

Final say

The new Discovery is a hugely impressive, image-conscious and hi-tech.

I’m still not sure about that rear numberplate but I felt the same when the Mark 3 dropped the spare wheel on the tailgate… but got over it!

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Land Rover Discovery Td6 HSE Luxury £64,195 (range from £43,995)

Engine: 2,993cc, 258hp, six-cylinder turbo diesel mated to eight-speed automatic gearbox

Performance: 0-60mph 7.7 seconds; top speed 130mph

MPG: Urban 34; extra urban 43.4; combined 39.2

CO2 emissions: 189g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 37%

Insurance group: 42 (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,970mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,220mm; H 1,888mm

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