The MH Motoring Minute: Land Rover Discovery

Looking for a premium, luxury off-roader? The Discovery should be your getaway car.

Arthur Jones |

Review: 7 day test and 2 day launch driving impression

Engine: 3.0l turbodiesel

Power: 190kW, 600Nm

Price: R1 272 700 (HSE Td6)

Being a strong all-rounder has its pros and cons. When it comes to luxury SUVs, not many cars come close to this Jacques Kallis performer. It’s lighter, bigger and faster than the previous model, is almost faultless on and off-road, is bristling with clever tech, and offers plush, high-quality comfort. But does this jack-of-all-trades stay true to the Discovery DNA?

Well, that’s where it gets tricky. The pedigree of the Discovery runs deep in South Africa – the previous editions had a cult-like following (and strong sales), but this new one offers a big departure from the previous models in terms of looks and styling. Granted – that’s subjective, but in our opinion, the new styling and design has lost some of the trademark Disco uniqueness and identity.

Related: The MH Motoring Minute: BMW X5 M50d

While it retains the signature box-like shape, it now has smoother lines and a more sophisticated look (and a very divisive, love-it-or-hate-it rear end) – so much so that it’s starting to look like its Range Rover cousins, which is a pity. Also, the value-for-money-ratio has skewed a little, as the previous Disco offered plenty for much-less than the newer, much fancier one with a costlier options list. What makes matters worse is that the market has gotten tougher – especially for drivers who only really use the Disco for tarmac duty.

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However, it’s not all bad news – this new Disco is excellent off-road. The smart new air suspension set-up shines on the rough stuff (only on certain models), and offers, in our opinion, one of the most comfortable rides when it comes to negotiating farm roads, jeep track and proper four wheel drive routes – it has a high ground clearance and an impressive 900mm wading depth as part of its adventure arsenal. It’s a real pity that most of this off-road prowess won’t be used by the market as it’s definitely one of the best arrows in the Discovery quiver. The only real competitor here is the Land Cruiser 200, and unfortunately for the Disco, it’s cheaper in like-for-like comparisons, and comes with a hard-earned rep for diehard reliability and ruggedness.

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The other high points: the riding and seating position is great; the cabin is shoehorned with space-age tech and smart, high-luxury touches (which trump the Cruiser); the amount of luggage and passenger space is massive (but you have to pay for a third row of seats if you want them); and lastly, it offers a supremely comfortable drive. To sum up, if you’re a Disco fan who actually does travel off-road and like the new looks, then this is a fantastic adventure partner – just tick the option list carefully.

PROS: Huge amounts of space; beefy torque; slick suspension; high towing capability (3.5 tonnes); impressive new tech; high levels of luxury.

CONS: Expensive (and that’s before you start on the eye-watering options list). Top-heavy, and prone to slight body roll. We aren’t fans of the rear design.

WHAT WE LOVE: The modern Disco is smart, capable and comfortable – but it comes at a price, both in terms of price tag and identity.

RATING: 7.5 /10

COMPETITORS: BMW X5 M50d (R1 502 581) and Xdrive30d (R1 194 296), Toyota Land Cruiser 200 (From R1 042 300), Mercedes GLS (R1 418 924), Volkswagen Toureg (R1 024 800), Porsche Cayenne (R1 192 000).

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