Does the Land Rover Discovery – a vehicle designed to put in the hard yards – cut it as an executive company car?
Life with a Land Rover Discovery: Month 1
Welcoming the Discovery to our fleet – 18 October 2017
Before you look at the price of this Land Rover Discovery, it’s worth noting that more than half of Discovery buyers opt for the top-specification trim.
Because the price as tested (£74,420), or even perhaps the basic price (£64,195), might cause an involuntary breath to leave your mouth, as it did mine.
But this is not unusual, and it speaks of where Land Rover is today. The Discovery is, at the very least, an executive car, nudging towards a luxury car.
Take a look around: there are loads of them specced like this. It’s a way of having a car that’s as luxurious and well appointed as, oh, I dunno, an up-spec Mercedes-Benz E-Class, or a BMW 7 Series, without anybody thinking that you’re on an airport taxi run.
We’re running this shiny new Discovery – about 10,000 miles on the clock, fresh from its first service, having served a few months’ time as a press demonstrator before it came to us – to see how well it will do the whole executive transport thing.
Not that I am an executive – or anything like, obviously – but most of my driving is similar to those who will use a Discovery properly: early starts, to hammer along a motorway, and then subject it to the harsher vagaries of domestic duties at the weekend.
Besides, they said, you live in the sticks, Prior, so surely a rufty-tufty 4×4 is up your street, while relieving me of the keys to a Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon, which will now be run by Matt Burt.
The E-Class/Discovery handover is an interesting one because, to an extent, they have to do the same things.
Sure, the Land Rover has to do more, off-road, and if hauling things, but they could feasibly both end up on your company car list. And for the Discovery’s extra versatility, it doesn’t necessarily follow that potential buyers will cut it too much slack when they come to picking between the two.
But buyers should be aware. As a strict road car, the Mercedes is, ultimately, the nicer thing to drive. Lower, more agile, more economical at the same performance levels.
But the Discovery counters with the characteristics that are a result of its mechanical layout. You’re well isolated from road noise, the ride is extremely good, great visibility is afforded by your height (to the expense of those around you, granted) and there’s a tremendous sense of imperviousness in poor conditions.
Standing water affects the stability of a Discovery far less than it does lower cars on lower-profile tyres; while, as weather starts to turn, increasingly mucky country lanes don’t seem to fling mud quite so far up the Discovery’s body side as lower cars. And it doesn’t look out of place when it does.
I haven’t yet challenged the full off-road or towing capability of our test car. It’s only been with us a few weeks. But I have put the long-distance cruising and practicality to use.
This is going to be handy. ‘Activity Key’ sits on your wrist so you can leave the proper key in the car rather than worry about losing it. pic.twitter.com/WGftIp0yqf
— Matt Prior (@matty_prior) September 16, 2017
Noise levels are pretty low, the ride is controlled enough on twistier roads – considering the kerb weight, which must be 2500kg if it’s a day – and the seats remain extremely comfortable over a distance.
Seats in the back feel just as comfortable as those in the front. And the climate control feels nicely over-specced. Via an option, the seats in the back are cooled, as well as the standard heated, plus those in the third row (which I haven’t used yet) are heated.
This car is quite serious about keeping you at the right temperature. And I’m a sucker for a heated steering wheel, especially given that the steering has a pleasing weight, speed and self-centring that Land Rover and Jaguar are really pretty good at.
They are less renowned at infotainment and so on – and while the latest Range Rover, the Velar, will go quite a way to improving that, this Discovery gets the touchscreen the car was launched with.
It’s versatile, I’ll give it that. There are several home screens to scroll through, giving control of everything from electrically dropping the seats through to (an option, but a very cool one) a system that lets you reverse a trailer to exactly where you want it, via the screen and adjusting the Terrain Response dial, without the hassle of counter steering and fumbling.
I like to kid myself that I’m second only to artic drivers when it comes to reversing, but I’m quite excited to try that regardless.
But some bits of the screen are a bit fiddly. Sometimes the system forgets it’s synced to the music on my phone. Inputting destinations can be slow. You get used to all of this, but it’s a pity this car came earlier than the Velar’s system. Can’t be helped.
That aside, the Discovery is easing into daily life very nicely. So far, it’s returning around 30mpg from its 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel, which is impressively refined and, at 255bhp, quite brisk enough.
It sometimes pays to leave the eight-speed auto in S rather than D for ideal step-off response, which is one of those tricks you discover on a long test like this, as you learn to get the best out of what already seems like a very impressive car.
The …read more