Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The Land Rover Discovery's engine range kicks off with the 2.0-litre P300 petrol, which we’re yet to try. However, the more powerful 3.0-litre P360 needs to be worked pretty hard for it to feel as quick as its 6.5sec 0-62mph time suggests. For us, that’s not really in keeping with the character of a luxury SUV.
We recommend opting for one of the diesels instead. The 3.0-litre D300 may be around 60bhp down on the P360, yet it has far more poke at low engine speeds and its 0-62mph time of 6.8sec is nothing to be sniffed at. It’s our pick of the range, but if you do not need such punchy acceleration, you will probably find the D250 diesel does the job.
All engines are paired with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s pretty responsive on the move, although it can be slightly hesitant if you require maximum acceleration from a standstill. If, like many, you’re looking to do some towing with your Discovery, the P300 can pull 3000kg. With every other model, this increases to 3500kg.
Suspension and ride comfort
The standard air suspension delivers a reasonably smooth ride, and the Land Rover Discovery is particularly comfortable at motorway speeds, wafting over undulations like a jumbo jet running into very mild turbulence.
However, it isn’t as comfortable as some rivals, in particular the Audi Q7, around town. In fact, the Discovery stumbles over imperfections a bit like a tottering toddler, with every impact sending subtle but noticeable shudders through the body. To minimise these intrusions, we’d recommend sticking to the 20in wheels of S trim and avoiding the 22in ones of R-Dynamic HSE.
The Land Rover Discovery is not geared towards sporty handling. You can steer it through corners with confidence at reasonable speeds without feeling as though you’re about to tip over, but it's nowhere near as eager to change direction as the Audi Q7 or BMW X5, and it leans more when it does. The Discovery also feels somewhat cumbersome through tight twists and turns.
The steering is slow, so getting round corners in town requires a lot of arm work. The Discovery isn't the ideal city car, then, but it is one of the very best SUVs at tackling rough terrain. It will confidently explore places where rivals fear to tread, with the help of the excellent ground clearance (283mm), a wading depth of 900mm and a multitude of clever electronics.
All-Terrain Progress Control is available as part of the Advanced Off-road Capability Pack, which is an option on all trims apart from entry-level S. In effect, this acts as a cruise control for off-roading, working at speeds of up to 19mph. You can also alter the speed of the hill descent control depending on how brave you are feeling.
Noise and vibration
The D300 diesel is an impressively serene companion, quietly working away in the background and remaining smooth even when pushed harder. It’s right up there with the likes of the Q7 and X5 when it comes to making peaceful progress in the Land Rover Discovery. The P360 is even more refined initially but, because you have to work it harder than the diesel, you’re more aware of it when you accelerate.
Previous incarnations of the Discovery sliced through the air about as efficiently as a double-decker bus. This latest version is hardly a masterclass in streamlining either, so there's more wind noise than in rivals such as the Audi Q7 and Mercedes GLE. However, there isn't much road noise, so you won't need to shout to communicate with your passengers.
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