The Land Rover Discovery isn’t long for this world. Later in 2015 or early 2016 it’ll be replaced by an all-new model, already previewed by the Discovery Vision concept.
Fortunately, Land Rover wants the current model to go out with a bang rather than a whimper, which is why it has revised the trim levels and added new paint colours and a phone-based app that allows you to operate your smartphone via the Discovery’s touch-screen.
What’s the 2015 Land Rover Discovery like to drive?
Mechanically, the Discovery is unchanged, so it’s a case of ‘as you were’. That means you get a 3.0-litre V6 diesel producing 253bhp and 442lb ft of torque, with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a four-wheel-drive system that can be optimised for driving on different terrain.
On road, things are mostly relaxed and refined. Motorway and A-road cruises are very pleasant, thanks to a fairly compliant ride and an engine that has enough low-down grunt to maintain 60mph at barely 1200rpm. The suspension isn't quite as smooth as a Range Rover Sport's, which is a similar price to the top-spec Discovery.
The auto gearbox is reasonably slick as it swaps ratios, although it can take get confused when you’re making progress. However, the cabin is nicely hushed once you’re up to cruising speed; you'll hear wind noise long before you complain about any mechanical racket.
The Discovery is heavy and has a high centre of gravity, so it’s not entirely surprising that there's a noticeable amount of body roll in even moderate bends. The steering is also very slow and heavy in town, although it’s lighter at higher speeds. Unfortunately, rutted roads generate a fair bit of kickback through the steering wheel, and not just in corners.
Our HSE test car had standard-fit 20-inch alloys, and there was a fair bit of patter in the cabin at lower speeds, although the elevated driving position means you do get an excellent view of the road ahead.
The government combined fuel consumption is 35.3mpg, but our True MPG tests yielded only 26.7mpg, which means you’ll be on first-name terms with your local petrol station cashier.
What’s the 2015 Land Rover Discovery like inside?
The Discovery's cabin is smart, solid and functional, but its perceived quality is some way behind the plusher Range Rover's. Land Rover's touch-screen sat-nav and infotainment system is now looking desperately dated.
It's even tougher to use in the Discovery because it's a good stretch away from the driver's seat. It’s slow to operate, too; you often have to wait a couple of seconds after prodding it with your finger.
The addition of the InControl system boosts its appeal. It’s an option that is compatible with the iPhone 5 and later, and Android phones running the latest software, and brings with it a suite of apps covering sat-nav, media streaming, internet radio and location services. Sadly, it wasn’t fitted to our car.
The rest of the cabin is simple enough to use. There's a good range of adjustment on the driver's seat so it's easy to get comfortable, and the rear two rows of seats have bags of head- and legroom; this remains one of the few genuine seven-seat SUVs on the market.
The back two rows fold flat to open up an impressive amount of boot space, too.
As for the new trim levels, SE replaces GS as the new base model and now features cruise control, front foglights, auto lights and wipers, headlight washers, and an auto dimming rear-view mirror.
SE Tech replaces mid spec XS trim, and now has xenon headlights with LED running lights as standard. Top spec HSE variants now have 20-inch alloys instead of the original 19s.
Customers can also choose a leather-wrapped steering wheel and Grand Black lacquer wood trim for the interior. Several new paint finishes are also available in a range of colours.
Should I buy one?
The well-equipped base SE starts at £41,595 (about £1500 more than the GS it replaces) and is an attractive proposition. You’ll be able to knock at least £3000 off that if you haggle hard at dealers.
Bear in mind, though, that our True MPG result and CO2 emissions of 213g/km mean it’ll be pricey to run as both a private buy and a company car.
We’d hesitate to recommend higher trims. Sure, you get much more kit as standard, but resale values are likely to suffer when the next-generation Discovery is released in just over a year.
In fact, if you can wait that long, it might be worth hanging on to see what the new model offers.
What Car? says
3.0 SDV6 auto