The only engine available is a twin-turbo 3.0-litre diesel, and the Discovery’s huge weight leaves this with plenty to do. Sure enough, you have to push the accelerator hard to get the car to pull away briskly from a standstill, but once you’re on the move it never feels underpowered.
The Disco doesn't defy the laws of physics quite as convincingly as the BMW X5, but it's still brilliantly composed and deceptively quick through bends. On motorways, the Disco is hard to fault. Its air suspension soaks up all manner of poor road surfaces, carrying you along in fine style with just the faintest patter noticeable from the rear of the car.
Noise from the turbochargers and ancillaries has been reduced to a mere background hum. Equally, plenty of work has been put in to prevent noise and vibration filtering into the cabin. In fact, were it not for a whoosh of wind noise generated by the bluff windscreen and chunky side mirrors, the Discovery would be as quiet as many top-end luxury cars. The eight-speed automatic gearbox is slick and smooth and quick to change.
There's no getting away from the fact that the Discovery is an expensive car to buy and run; you’ll pay the maximum rate of tax if you choose one as your company car. However, the 3.0-litre engine is capable of averaging more than 30mpg, which is reasonable.
The materials used in the Discovery suggest that attention to detail has been paramount: it feels classy and solid. However, Land Rover's reliability record has been less than illustrious in recent years, and there are still big question marks over how this Disco will fare in the long term. In the 2012 JD Power survey, owners rated its mechanical reliablity as below average.
Stability and traction controls, Hill Descent Control and a whole bank of off-road programmes are standard, along with full-time four-wheel drive. Thieves won't fancy having a go at the Disco, either – it comes with an alarm, immobiliser and deadlocks.
Few cars give you a better view of the road ahead than a Discovery, and the driver's seat has lots of adjustment. There are plenty of storage areas, too, and most of the controls on the dashboard are chunky. However, the touch-screen navigation system is a little fiddly.
The Discovery seats seven adults with comparative ease. There's not much boot space with all the seats in use, but the second and third rows fold down to leave a flat floor without the need to remove the headrests. The tailgate is split so that it can serve as a picnic seat or viewing platform.
Base GS cars come with air-conditioning, four electric windows, Bluetooth and keyless entry and start-up. XS models add cruise control, front parking sensors, automatic headlights and wipers, heated leather seats, hard disk satellite-navigation and MP3/USB connectivity. HSE cars get wood and leather trim, electric everything and a thumping Harmon/Kardon stereo.
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With the likes of leather trim, sat-nav and cruise control among the standard kit, the XS is our favourite version of the Discovery.