All-new Land Rover Discovery

Route: Matured evolution

"Stepping out of the new Discovery, you are welcomed by a much curvier and modern-looking geometry compared to the boxy heritage."

"Towards the rear, you find the most similarities to the older variants."

"The best improvement, compared to the LR4, would be the crisper on-road manners with reduced body roll and quicker directional changes."

"Special mention goes to the overall suspension and chassis tuning, which has very much refined the previously rugged drive nature of the LR4."

Very few things in life feel as good as discovering something new: even if it is finding a new function on your smart phone or finding an oasis in the middle of the desert. The smart phone part may sound easy, but to find an oasis you need much more than a herd of camels and a bunch of close buddies these days. How about a tough SUV that wraps you in luxury and has the best go-anywhere heritage? Welcome the new Land Rover Discovery. We drove the First Edition, which boasts a fully loaded spec sheet and some signature touches.

The 'Discovery' name would be familiar to anyone who has the slightest off-road inclination. Even to guys who would prefer to spend the weekend flipping channels on TV compared to an outdoor stint, the Discovery would keep popping up on all nature and wildlife exploration programs round the clock. The reason is simple: it is tough. Real tough!

Starting from the late 80s, Land Rover Discovery always had a distinct shape with its boxy body, stepped roofline and a curious looking tailgate. The classic body-on-frame SUV construction was maintained until 2016, even though the Discovery had major revamps post 2004 with the LR3 and LR4 iterations. The concept of the Discovery was simple - practicality and toughness with a sprinkle of luxury.

Look through the front windshield and you can see seven headrests, which is pretty common on modern day SUVs. The difference comes in when you know that seven real adults can fit in the Discovery without being Olympic-qualified gymnasts! The additional wheelbase really helps here. You can jumble up the seat configurations in almost 21 ways to best suit your requirements and you do not need arms of steel for the task. The new Discovery helps you adjust seats through the central touchscreen or buttons in the boot - or even through a smart phone app. The electrically folding seats would feel a bit slow, but you soon get the hang of it. Storage spaces have been very cleverly incorporated into the new Disco's cabin with a center console that can swallow up to four iPads. You also get nine USB and six 12-volt power outlets for all your dear devices. A 10-inch HD touchscreen acts as the central control station, which has reduced the number of switches on the console to just one-third.

Getting into the Discovery and settling in is pretty easy; thanks to the air suspension, which drops height when parked and the intuitive controls that fall into hands easily. You are seated high with huge windows and sunroof adding to the ambience. Third-row seats have slightly low cushions and may not be the most comfortable for tall guys. Seats and surfaces are leather clad to improve luxury feel on a tough genre SUV. Tan shade leather with contrast stitching looks chic. You get a decent 1,300 liters of boot space with all seats in place and almost double with seats folded down. An 825-watt 15-speaker Meridian sound system ensures that all passengers are treated to quality music throughout.

Activity Key wristband: For those who find the key fob a bit bulky, here's a wristband that can do the job of a key. We can open and close the door (while the original bulky key can be left safely inside) by holding the waterproof Activity Key up to the 'D' in the Discovery badge on the tailgate.

Driving the Discovery First Edition is a joy, credits to the supercharged V6 DOHC petrol engine pumping out a healthy 335 horsepower, which will propel the Disco from standstill to 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds. Not impressed? The Disco is a 2.2-ton behemoth even though there is a weight reduction of 480 kilograms from its predecessor due to monocoque form and an aluminum body shell. The new Discovery shares its platform with its Range Rover cousins, which helps in weight loss as well as improved on-road dynamics. Keeping the throttle pinned can take you to a claimed top speed of 215 km/h.

A four-wheel drive system puts the power to the road through an eight-speed transmission and features a two-speed transfer box that can split the torque 50/50 between both wheels. The Discovery has always been about endurance and reliability rather than outright performance figures. The best improvement, compared to the LR4, would be the crisper on-road manners with reduced body roll and quicker directional changes.

The new Discovery First Edition rides on air suspension all around, which provides ride height adjustment for easier access when stopped and for better aero figures when picking up speed. Air suspension also helps with increased ride height for better approach and departure angles while you search for the perfect sand dune. Special mention goes to the overall suspension and chassis tuning which has very much refined the previously rugged drive nature of the LR4. An upright driving position with clear visibility makes sure that you are not caught unawares of any tricky terrain. If in doubt, you have features like the All-Terrain Progress Control, which monitors the terrain once every 100 milliseconds to control steering, throttle and traction characteristics. It works like a cruise control for off-road. Sit back, one hand on the steering and enjoy as the Discovery crawls up like a pro. Add to this Hill Decent Control, Roll Stability Control and Dynamic Stability Control; you have some good tech to take you places! New-gen Discoveries spend most of their time on good terrain but it is always good to know in the back of your head what your SUV is really ready for. We threw in some mild sand surfaces and were surprised at the ease with which the Discovery handled them, especially with the optional 22-inch wheels.

Modern day safety systems like Blind Spot Monitoring, Close Vehicle Sensing and Reverse Traffic Detection help us with stress-free navigation. Parking support with all around camera views and Perpendicular Park Assist assures that you squeeze the Discovery into the tightest parking spots.

Stepping out of the new Discovery, you are welcomed by a much curvier and modern-looking geometry compared to the boxy heritage. The form follows lines from the updated Land Rover/ Range Rover drawing board and the front quarter view has a touch of Discovery Sport to it. Front grille, door mirrors and fender air-vents are finished in black, which contrasts very well with our Silicon Silver test car. Viewed from the front, the new Discovery still has the familiar tall-ish design lingo associated with older versions. Vertical air dams and blacked out sections with a skid plate provide a butch SUV look. The profile looks akin to modern day SUVs with a raked C-pillar and blacked out A-pillar. At times, the Discovery looks like a Toyota Fortuner or a bit like the Ford Explorer - especially because the stepped-up roof is not very revealing now, instead it blends into the rear almost seamlessly. Continuing towards the rear, you find the most similarities to the older variants. You get a hint of boxy-ness wrapped in an updated curvy profile. The taillight cluster is an LED horizontally stacked unit, which helps to reduce the tall-ish looks of the new Discovery. Some asymmetric elements have been incorporated into the tailgate design with the logo and number plate shifted to the sides.

Verdict
The First Edition Discovery features some special badges and detailing which makes the new car even more special. Only 2,400 units of First Edition Discoveries will slide out of the Land Rover assembly line in Solihull and you will be assured of world-class exclusivity. If this is evolution, we love it.

Pros: Proper seven-seater, All-Terrain comfort, hi-tech gizmos, Active Key wristband, front look, premium interior
Cons: Rear design, fuel economy, price range
Rivals: Volvo XC90, BMW X5, Audi Q7, Mercedes-Benz GLE
one word: worthy upgrade
4 stars

Specs
3.0L V6 supercharged, 340 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 450 Nm @ 3,500-5,000 rpm
4WD, 8-speed auto
0-100 km/h: 7.1 sec, top speed: 215 km/h, fuel consumption: 14.5 L/100 km
Weight: 2,148 kg

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