The Land Rover Discovery is the brand second most iconic model, underneath the Land Rover Defender. It’s the family orientated off-roader, meant to tackle the daily grind in the city, and then take you as far as you need to in traditional Land Rover off-roading style.
However, as Land Rover evolves the Discovery product, it’s now packed with more Range Rover influence than ever before. The same can be said for the Defender and Discovery Sport.
Where does that leave the Discovery in 2021?
I wanted to see just how different the new Discovery was compared to our 2006 Discovery 3, and answer the question: Why would you pick this over a new Defender?
Build Quality4.5 out of 5.
Build quality is an absolute strong suit for the British manufacturer in recent years. Even though this is the Discovery S (the entry level model), construction was at its highest throughout the cabin and on the exterior.
Weighty doors, solid ‘thunks’, high quality faux leather and cloth seats and soft touch plastics were a treat. You really feel that buying a Land Rover is investing in a step up in build quality, especially for the price you’re paying.
Value for Money4.1 out of 5.
This is the Discovery S D300, meaning it packs the best diesel engine option Land Rover offers. Priced from $101,875 before on roads as a starting point, throw in a few options like the ‘Advanced Off-road Capability Pack’, wireless charging, and an ‘Active Rear Locking Differential’ and you’re looking at a $110,910 car.
From memory, our fully-laden Land Rover Discovery 3 HSE TDV6 was priced around this point, so a combination of inflation and price rising has occurred since 2006 - that’s for sure.
To be honest, there’s a lot of standard equipment provided on the new Discovery, even in its base form. Air-suspension, comprehensive 3D camera system and electronically folding seats are all excellent standard features that usually would have been reserved for higher trims.
Really, you only need to spend more if you want a special type of paint, leather seats, larger wheels or some particular options for the rest of the cabin.
Yes, it’s expensive, but against competitors like Porsche’s Cayenne, Audi’s Q7 and BMW’s X7, you’re getting a far more off-road focused vehicle than those options.
Maintenance4 out of 5.
Land Rover recently upped its warranty offering from 3 years to 5 years/Unlimited kilometres with 5 years of roadside assistance.
It’s a competitive offer, and certainly meets my expectations of what I’d hope for when buying a new car in 2022.
You can purchase a service plan for 5 years or up to 130,000 kilometres of driving, for $2,650. For most families purchasing the Discovery, that should cover you for 5 years of driving, unless you really plan on stacking on the kilometres during that period. For a vehicle as complex as this, that’s a fair price for that maintenance period
Noise Level4.4 out of 5.
Explained to me initially upon picking up the keys to the Discovery was that this speaker system was a far step down from the $14,000 set I briefly experienced in a 2021 Range Rover Sport.
Placing expectations on the floor, they were quickly picked back up as I found this speaker system to be more than adequate for this car’s cabin experience. There was plenty of punch and a clear range emanating from these speakers, regardless of what was playing from them.
Sure, the difference between a $14,000 speaker system and the base speaker system was made apparent when you turn that volume knob higher, with distortion becoming a lot more obvious. However for daily listening, it’s more than up to the task to be able to ‘get lost’ in your music.
Despite being fitted with 20-inch wheels as standard, there was little to no road noise bleeding into the cabin at any speed I took this Land Rover. Although, the large weight and high centre of gravity of this SUV did cause some tire squeal when really pushing the car through some sharp corners.
Wind noise was non-existent - something I’d put down to the dramatically smooth design, compared to previous generations of the Discovery.
Braking4.6 out of 5.
Stopping a Land Rover never felt so smooth. I distinctly remember the car I learnt to drive on (the Land Rover Discovery 3) was incredibly smooth to operate, and was more than capable at sudden braking and trail braking away from danger.
The same can be said here, but with additional ability than a car built in 2006. Braking is predictable, and requires no more effort than using a brake pedal found in a Fiat 500. It just makes operating a car of this size a lot easier, and you can come to a stop in style, without any lurching or pitching forwards when slowing down.
Acceleration/Power4.5 out of 5.
Under the bonnet of this Discovery is a 3.0L twin-turbo charged 6-cylinder diesel mild-hybrid motor, and it packs a real punch.
Traditionally, big cars and big diesel motors never result in performance on the road. However, Land Rover’s Ingenium D300 motor is a completely different story.
Producing 220kW at 4,000rpm and 650Nm at 1,500-2,500rpm, there’s plenty of power here being sent to all four wheels via an AWD system. 0-100km/h times are as brisk as 6.8 seconds, which is quicker than my 1000kg Abarth 500! This is mum’s 7-seater SUV we’re talking about, which is faster than ever.
You can’t get a petrol V8 anymore with the Discovery, but this is the best engine if you’re after a bit more punch without a V8’s fuel bill.
That mild-hybrid system is quick to react, allowing you to launch rapidly off-the-line from a standstill. Twin-turbo chargers push you back into your seat, and give you plenty of power to rocket past 110km/h with ease.
There’s minimal turbo-lag, a far step above what I used to experience in our 2006 Discovery. Honestly, you could fool someone that this is a petrol motor, in just how responsive it is to inputs.
Gear Shifting4.2 out of 5.
The 8-speed transmission in the Discovery was mostly fault-free, although on occasion it did have a moment where gears clunked together, rather than being swiftly engaged.
Around 95% of my driving saw a flawless performance from the Discovery. Shifting into gear was easily operated, I especially love the dedicated park button that helps you avoid any mis-shifts.
5% of the time I experienced moments of indecisiveness from the gearbox, which momentarily distracted from an otherwise premium driving experience.
Something I thought I wouldn’t have enjoyed as much as I did was using the wonderfully finished metal paddle shifters to manually shift. Shifting into Sports mode by manually shifting was as engaging as it could have been, without making you wish for more. Shifts were crisp and rapid and quick to respond to my lazy inputs - compared to the computer wizardry that normally occurs in the gearbox.
Suspension & Handling4.2 out of 5.
Land Rover’s air suspension system is a lot of fun, thanks to just how adjustable it is. The car can move from an access height, through to ‘Off-Road 2’, which allows it to wade through 900mm of water.
The ride height difference is amusing at times, allowing you to tower over Mercedes G Wagons, and then change the height to enter a sub-2m tall underground car park.
It’s a sublime ride, and there’s never an issue with being uncomfortable in the Discovery. It’s capable on road, through corners and on loose surfaces. Although, compared to the Defender, I could tell the Discovery did waver a little bit through sweeping bends at high speeds, thanks to its high centre of gravity and narrower footprint.
Off-road, there’s a reason why you’ll see more smiles in a Discovery at the end of a serious trip away from the tarmac, compared to cars like a Jeep Wrangler. Ruts, rocks and large dips in the road didn’t once make me feel uneasy, unlike some cheaper 4x4 SUVs. It’s clear that spending the additional money provides a far superior ride both on and off-road.
Fuel Efficiency3.7 out of 5.
Even though this is a diesel, has turbochargers and is a mild-hybrid, don’t expect to be saving at the pump.
Claimed combined fuel efficiency is 7.5L/100km, however daily driving saw me produce figures as high as 12L/100km, even after heading out on the highway. Think of this motor as a refinement to the diesel motor with added performance. Sadly that equation doesn’t allow for a dramatic reduction in fuel consumption.
Interior Design4.8 out of 5.
Land Rover has stepped up the game with the new Discovery’s interior. It’s an exercise in minimalist design, while still giving you everything you need right at your fingertips.
There’s plenty of space throughout the cabin, however it starts to get a bit cramped in the third row’s foot well. I particularly love just how much foot room the driver gets, making it a lot more comfortable to drive long distances behind the wheel.
The curved infotainment display uplifts this cabin into 2022, along with a noticeable lack of physical buttons. The important ones are there, like climate controls, volume and terrain response, but that’s it.
I miss the old adage that you could operate all the features in a Land Rover while wearing a pair of thick gloves. As Land Rover becomes more reliant on screens, you’re going to need to ditch the gloves to take full advantage of that touch screen.
Storage is the other headlining feature here, with a ridiculously deep, dual level glovebox and secret compartments under the transmission tunnel and behind the climate controls. It was a lot of fun to see just how much stuff you could fit in and around the Land Rover’s interior.
What is apparent is just how easy it is to jump in and quickly become accustomed to this car. It’s a testament to the cohesive interior design we’re seeing across Land Rover’s line up. Thankfully they chose a good looking and easy-to-use interior design to universally apply across all of its models.
Boot Size & Comfort4.7 out of 5.
With all three rows up, there's only 258L of boot space on tap. However, fold all of those seats down, you’ll reveal 2391L of boot space. You’d see why we chose this car back in 2006 to help us move to Australia after living overseas.
A most welcomed surprise was just how easy it was to operate the electronically folding second row seats. Both up and down, you can use buttons in the boot to completely fold the second row flat, making it less of an effort than ever before. Although, if you want to just fold the middle seat down, you'll still need to do that manually.
Second row space is extremely generous, although the seats sit a little too close to the floor of the car, creating a gap between your knees and the seat itself. This forces you to recline back to retain comfort on long trips. Seating for three is beyond reasonable, as three adults can place their feet comfortably on the flat floor, thanks to an absence of an obvious exhaust/transmission tunnel.
Despite its size, third row seats are a little tight for adults to comfortably rest. Additionally, the ingress and egress hasn’t been as well executed like in cars such as the Kia Sorrento. However, if you frequent the third row, it’s still one of the larger sets you can sit in, this side of $150,000.
The bottom line is, this is a perfectly comfortable car. It’s ideal for a family of up to 6, if you plan on bringing any cargo along with you.
Features4.3 out of 5.
As I mentioned, I was impressed by the base equipment offered for the Discovery. Although, some could argue you should expect these features when paying this much.
Some additional features helped make this particular Discovery more off-road focused. It’s nice that you can choose to leave that out if you don’t see yourself going too hardcore off-road.
The biggest disappointment was seeing that wireless phone charging cost a hint under $500! In comparison, Kia and Hyundai include this with plenty of cars a lot cheaper than this one. The absence of a wireless charging feature is also strange seeing as wireless Apple CarPlay just became a free feature. It’s weird that Land Rover would still make you plug in your phone if you needed to charge, while using wireless Apple CarPlay.
Outside that, Land Rover’s cars are bought partly thanks to the amount of R and D that goes into the engine and driving characteristics. Something that is hard to justify on paper against cheaper alternatives if you’re shopping purely on price.
Here’s a full list of features you get with the Land Rover Discovery S D300:
- 8-speed Automatic Transmission
- All Wheel Drive (AWD)
- 3.0L twin-turbocharged MHEV (mild-hybrid) inline-six diesel engine
- 220kW at 4,000rpm and 650Nm @1,500 - 2,500rpm
- 0-100km/h in 6.8 seconds (claimed)
- 11.4-inch Touchscreen
- Interactive Driver Display
- Android AutoTM
- Apple CarPlay®
- Wireless Apple CarPlay
- Connected Navigation Pro
- Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB)
- Traffic Sign Recognition and Adaptive Speed Limiter
- Clear Exit Monitor
- Rear Traffic Monitor
- Driver Condition Monitor
- Blind Spot Assist
- Lane Keep Assist
- Autonomous Emergency Braking
- Customer Configurable Autolock
- Perimetric Alarm
- Emergency Brake Assist
- Anti-lock Braking System (ABS)
- Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD)
- Trailer Stability Assist (TSA)
- Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS)
- Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
- Low Traction Launch
- Electronic Traction Control (ETC)
- Roll Stability Control (RSC)
- Cornering Brake Control (CBC)
- Hill Descent Control (HDC)
- Brake Hold
- Terrain Response
- Electronic Air Suspension
- Twin-speed Transfer Box (high/low range): optional extra
- Acrtive Rear Locking Differential: optional extra
- 360 degree Parking Aid
- Cruise Control and Speed Limiter
- Adaptive Cruise Control
- 3D Surround Camera
- Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
- Keyless Entry
- 12V Power Socket in Loadspace
- Electrically Adjustable Steering Column
- Dual-Zone Climate Control
- Auto-dimming Interior Rear View Mirror
- Push Button Start
- 20 inch Full Size Spare Wheel
- Heated Rear Window with Timer
- Puddle Lights
- Auto High Beam Assist (AHBA)
- Automatic Headlight Levelling
- Premium LED Headlights with Signature DRL
- LED Tail Lights
- Automatic Headlights and Rain Sensing Wipers
- Front Fog Lights
- Rear Fog Lights
- Follow Me Home Lighting
- Heated Front seats
- Hill Launch Assist
- Brake Pad Wear Indicator
- Satin Wrap
- All-Terrain progress Control (ATPC)
- Terrain Response 2
- Configurable Terrain Response
- Tow Hitch receiver
- Advanced Tow Assist
Should you buy one?
The only reason my family didn’t keep our old Discovery for longer than 10 years was the cost of servicing post-warranty. When things go wrong (and they did), it did cost a lot to keep a car as complex as that on the road.
We weren’t burnt by our experience, rather, we bought a Range Rover Evoque to ‘downsize’ from the burly Discovery 3. Additionally, I think we would step into a new Discovery if we wanted to, as it really is an excellent evolution forwards for the iconic nameplate.
The added warranty period gives a massive leap in confidence for what would usually be a normal finance period (5 years). Although, my eyebrows would become raised following the end of that warranty period, from our past experiences.
For most, the Discovery will hit the nail on the head for a car that’s easy to use deep in the inner-city, and take out into the wilderness. By comparison, the Defender can become a little too big for its boots when operating along the school drop-off route and in tight side street parking situations.
I loved the Discovery this time round, if you can place a little trust in Land Rover, you’ll be rewarded with a perfect replacement for a large, 7-seat luxury off-roader.
About the author Cameron is our resident car expert. Aside being a source of knowledge about the automotive industry, he has also driven a wide variety of cars. From Porsche 911 GT2 RS's, through to a 1998 Toyota RAV4, Cameron has not only seen it all, but has most likely driven it.
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|Category||Large / 7 Seater SUVs|
|Drive Type||Four Wheel Drive (4WD)|
|ANCAP Safety Rating||5 Stars|
|Fuel Consumption||7.8 L/100km|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||85 L|
|Engine||6 Cylinder 3.0L|
|Max Power||225kW @ 3750rpm|
|Max Torque||700Nm @ 1500-1750rpm|
|Country of Manufacture||Pre-2019: UK, 2019-onwards: Slovakia|
|Maximum Towing Capacity (braked)||3,500 kg|
|Maximum Towing Capacity (unbraked)||750 kg|
|Manufacturer Warranty||3 year(s)|
|Ground Clearance||850 mm|
|Release date||Dec 2016|
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