Land Rover Discovery
0-62mph 8 seconds
Top speed 121mph
For all the swaggering braggadocio of Clarkson and co, TV’s most clubable threesome, in the real world of motoring journalism we’re a more respectful bunch with a proper horror of damaging the cars we love. I’ve been reviewing cars for more than a decade now and still haven’t managed to rack up a crash – until last week. But what a miserably puny bash it was. I was queuing for the multistorey when the person in front asked me to reverse a bit so she could make the corner. I happily snapped the car into reverse and before I knew had put my rear bumper into the front light of the car behind.
We all got out. The damage was paltry. I’ve seen more broken glass from a smashed pint mug. The driver introduced herself as Shirley. She shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t worry,” she said gracefully. “These things happen. It’s why we have insurance.” We swapped numbers and details, but came unstuck when I admitted it wasn’t actually my car. “He’s a motoring journalist,” explained my wife with a “whatever-that-is” look. Shirley then said: “So, do you always reverse into other people?”
It’s amazing how shaken you feel – even after a 2mph crash. Shirley came off worse. My car didn’t have a mark on it. Considering it was Land Rover’s colossal new bombproof Discovery, that’s not a surprise. Of all the big SUVs in the Land Rover range, the Disco has always been its most resolutely agricultural. Head to any farm show and it’s clear that for those who are forever Ambridge, there is only one possible vehicle to straddle the gap between Chelsea mews and Cotswolds estate.
This is the fifth generation of the car. It’s lost some weight, almost half a tonne – it’s had the equivalent of an automotive gastric band fitted. This means that the 2-litre Ingenium (SD4) engine and the more appropriate 3-litre V6 diesel (TD6) engine can actually do their job properly. But like a glossy shire horse that does little more than flex its giant haunches to win another rosette, this new Disco is all about luxury rather than hard labour. The sheer scale of it means you lounge rather than perch in your seats. You can have all seven seats motorised and foldable via a remote app. There’s also the latest JLR InControl Touch Pro touchscreen and a serenely minimalist cabin.
Automatic transmission, a twin-speed transfer box and air suspension all help the big car cruise down the lane like a Venetian launch. The Discovery also comes with Land Rover’s unique Terrain Response system which optimises the vehicle’s engine, gearbox, centre differential and chassis systems to match the demands of the terrain. Then there’s your pick of driver aids: cruise control and speed limiter, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, heated windscreen and rear window, heated door mirrors, DAB radio, tyre pressure monitoring system, hill launch assist, dynamic stability control, roll stability control, cornering brake control, gradient acceleration control, hill descent control and trailer stability assist all come as standard.
This is a luxury SUV built to cope with every facet of modern life – except it seems for one thing: negotiating a multistorey, as I discovered. It’s so big that driving one in town you feel like a fat man trying to squeeze towards the bar in a crowded pub. Sorry, sorry, sorry, I’m just going to push through here. It’s magnificent, but it’s best left in the countryside.
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