12 Dec 2013

2014 Land Rover Discovery Review

Matt Hubbard reviews the updated Land Rover Discovery SDV6 in HSE Luxury trim.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE Luxury

The Discovery has been around since 1989 and is in its fourth iteration.  It's priced from £39k to £58k.  All versions use a 3 litre V6 diesel mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox and do 0-60mph in 8.8 seconds.

Unlike the aluminium Range Rover the Discovery still uses a steel body and a ladder chassis, which makes it heavy - kerb weight is 2,583kg - and limits ground clearance.

The Discovery I drove was the top of the range HSE Luxury, which costs £57,775.

Until last year I would have said the Discovery was the most practical and value for money car produced by Land Rover, but then along came the new Range Rover Sport, which costs from £51,550 and weighs 400kg less.

You see, the old Sport was based on the Discovery, but the new Sport has a brand new aluminium chassis all to itself.  It's lighter, sleeker and faster and doesn't cost a whole lot more.
2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE Luxury

So what does the Discovery still have to offer?

The Discovery is resolutely a Land Rover rather than a Range Rover.  As such the car focusses more on the practical side.  The new Discovery shape was adopted back in 2004 when the Discovery 3 was launched, and it's aged well.

With a few nods to the original Discovery shape - its square shape, sculpted, almost vertical sides and asymmetrical tailgate (on which the spare wheel was mounted on the Discovery 1 and 2) - the car is still a looker.

That tailgate is now just a style statement.  It no longer houses a spare wheel and doesn't open sideways, but has a split hatch, just like the original Range Rover's.

The 3rd row of seats sit in the boot.  When folded away the boot floor is flat but pull them out and it's a genuine 7 seater.
2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE Luxury

The middle row of seats suffer slightly for the large boot.  Passengers have less knee room than in a Range Rover or, indeed, a Jaguar XF.  The rear seats are heated though.

Everyone has plenty of headroom though.  And every row of seats gets its own electrically adjustable sunroof.

The materials used in the car go like this:  standard stuff on the roof and pillars (no Alcantara), leather atop the dash and the top of the doors, lovely aluminium door handles and piano black surrounds, plastic underneath the handles, tough carpets with thick woollen floor mats.

In the front the driver and passenger seats are comfortable, leather, electrically adjustable affairs that offer little in the way of lumbar support but have the usual individual arm-rests.

The info screen is standard issue Jaguar Land Rover which works well and controls audio (including digital radio) and satnav.  The buttons and dials which control everything else are sensibly placed.  You'll also find a few cupholders and a fridge under the central arm rest.

The USB plug is in the upper glovebox (there's another glovebox below it), which is a faff because if you store your phone in the central part of the console the cable will stretch across the passenger's knees.
2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE Luxury

The door pockets are a nod to the original Discovery - huge and right down at the bottom of the door with a sculpted cupholder at the front.

The only part of the Discovery which is inferior to the older version is that the dash top slopes down towards the passengers.  Farmers tend to buy these cars, so use them all year round.  Gloves, hats and scarfs would be dumped on the flat-topped dash of the Disco 2 but would fall off the Disco 4's dash top.

Driving the Discovery is fun.  It has no wheel mounted paddles so you rely on the 8-speed gearbox to do all the gear-changing.  It has plenty of poke with 256bhp and 442 lb ft of torque.

It rolls a little in corners but not a great deal.  The ride is smooth and any bumps ironed out by the weight of the thing.  There is none of the crashing over road imperfections of the older Discoverys.

It feels seriously well bolted together.  Land Rover has come a long way since the Ford days.  Modern Landies feel like they've been put together a lot better than in the past - and feel like they'll last a lot longer.
2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE Luxury

I didn't drive this Discovery off road on the 90 minute test drive but I have driven them across fields before.  In fact I've driven, and been a passenger in them, across some seriously muddy rural landscapes that would see most faux SUVs flounder.  Its off-road capabilities are the best in the business.

Mind you, I'm not sure the rather bling, diamond-cut, two-tone alloys of the test car suit its sensible character.  They would get scratched quite quickly.

I live in a rural area and can report that in the main Discoverys are driven by school run mums, rich farmers and horsey types.  They are bought for their spacious hard-wearing interiors, good visibility, ease of driving, off road capability, 3500kg towing limit (2 horses in a trailer or an Ifor Williams trailer full of pigs) and prestige.

The Discovery carries a different kind of prestige to the Range Rover which is now so expensive only London and football wages money can buy it in the countryside.  The Discovery starts from £39k which is about the same as a Volvo or BMW estate and if you want or desire of the Discovery's capabilities you are likely to buy one.

It's still a valid car, even against the Sport, and for that matter the X5, ML or Q5 which just don't cut the mustard in certain circles, and which are priced higher than the base Discovery models.

Some people wouldn't be seen dead in anything other than a Land Rover and for the money the Discovery presents damn good value.


Price: circa £57,775
Engine: 3.0 V6 diesel
Transmission: 8-speed ZF automatic gerabox
0-62mph: 8.8 seconds
Top Speed: 112mph
Power: 256 bhp
Torque: 442 lb ft
Economy: 34.9mpg
CO2: 230 g/km
Kerb weight: 2,583kg
2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE Luxury

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE Luxury

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE Luxury

Review by Matt Hubbard