Is there still room for the Land Rover Discovery?

T​he new Defender may cannibalize it

1w ago

The iconic family off-roader is back with some design tweaks and a lot of tech. Since it first appeared in 1989, the Discovery quickly became one of the benchmarks in the large premium SUV segment. Perfectly positioned between the posh Range Rover and the rough Defender, the Discovery is meant to offer the best of both worlds. In other words, it's a comfortable car you can drive every day that is still capable of going through very tough terrain. The popular SUV, which is known for being one of the most versatile cars of the Land/Range Rover range was nearly untouchable for so long, but all has changed now.

The reason is called... Defender. Yes, the new Defender that was introduced in 2019 has become an instant hit as it now targeted a larger audience. Easier to drive, more usable, more efficient, safer, and definitely more modern, the new Defender took all the good bits of the old model and put it in a brand new package. People seem to adore it and that is a real problem for the Discovery. With similar prices, engines, and size, the Defender is now closer to the Discovery than it ever was. So, does the "Disco" still has some tricks up its sleeve to remain relevant?

After more than 30 years on the road, here is the third generation of the iconic SUV. Also known as the Dicovery 5, it recently received an important facelift that brought more tech and a slightly updated design. Overall, the design changes are not revolutionary, but that's usually the whole point of a facelift. By the way, I must say that I really like the looks of the Land Rover Discovery.

the Defender is now closer to the Discovery than it ever was.

Jonathan Yarden

I know that most of you hate asymmetrical number plate however, I think it is a distinctive design element that makes it stand out. Then there is the rest of the car, which I think works well despite the size of the car. It could have been bulky and boxy, but it actually looks very sleek. It's a premium SUV after all. The design is actually one of the main areas where the Defender and the Discovery fundamentally differ. One looks like it could climb Mount Everest, and the other seems more conventional and elegant especially with the R-Dynamic package that our press car was equipped with. As much as I liked the exterior design, I really fell in love with the luxurious interior. Even though it is really close to the one you'd find in the pre-facelift model, you now have a much larger infotainment system that dominates the center console. The operating system is the same as in the latest Jaguars and is very intuitive and responsive. There are other elements here and there that were adjusted such as the gear lever, Terrain Response button, and sharper digital dials. There is also a new steering wheel that was directly inspired by... the new Defender's. The rest of the cabin is obviously extremely roomy and can comfortably seat seven people. Even though the Defender can also do that, I tend to believe that passengers will rather spend time in the "Disco" than in the "Def" if there is a long road trip ahead.

Historically, the Discovery has always been a very comfortable family car that nearly glides on the road. The recipe has not changed, however you still feel very connected to the road and I was very surprised to see how well it handled on the road. Despite its gigantic size, the "Disco" is very easy to maneuver and that also thanks to the multiple cameras that got you back (and sides, and front). The Discovery really performs in its ability to adapt to any situation. The frugal 300 horsepower 3.0 6-cylinder diesel engine our press car had burnt way less fuel than what the manufacturer claims (Around 6.0 l for us instead of 8.5 l), which makes it the perfect car for long road trips and daily driving. Even though it is no sports car, this engine will help the car to reach 209 km/h and go from 0 to 100 km/h in only 6.8 seconds. Not too bad for a car that weighs nearly 2.4 tons. You rotate the drive mode selector knob and it suddenly becomes the ideal off-roader that will go through rivers and mud.

Obviously, this is where the Defender will shine and it will do it better than the Discovery. It was done to go through anything, anywhere, anytime. Even though the "Def" has slowly bridged the gap with the Discovery, it still has not reached its level of comfort, luxury, and versatility. The Discovery still remains very relevant for people who want a car that can pretty much do everything life throws its way. Through the year, it has evolved into a very good-looking SUV with a lot of tech that will pretty much destroy any of its rivals off the beaten path. With the recent announcement that Land Rover will only produce electric cars from 2025, it will be interesting to see what the future holds out for the Discovery. We just want this unique philosophy of uncompromising versatility to remain unchanged.

I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Land Rover Switzerland for allowing us to experience the new Discovery. Big thanks also to the team who facilitated everything to make our life easier. Without them, this article would have never been possible, and we cannot wait to do some more articles with them in the near future.

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Comments (47)

  • Disco for sure, they’ve fixed the design (over this) [I know its still off-centre but it looks good] but its sad that it might go, I actually enjoy looking at them on the road even though they’re common as (like the Mazda 3)

      9 days ago
    • hahaha not very common here in Switzerland. It's more the country of the Range Rover!

        4 days ago
  • Is it the end of the Land Rover Discovery @tribe

      9 days ago
  • The Discovery is better than the new Defender.

    The Germans are plain boring. They still haven't figured out how to make a good SUV.

    I'd still spend the money on a Grand Cherokee though. For that kind of price I'd be looking at a V8 with air suspension... the Land Rover rather fell behind in the engine area.

      8 days ago
    • Oh but that V8 Defender though. Really thing LR should have gone forward with the SVX concept

        4 days ago
    • you know... as much as I adore the V8 in principle, I don't think so. In a muscle car you get the rumble, and the fast acceleration, and all that.

      In an SUV, 0-60 times are less than meaningless - you only crash faster. As for the sound, an SUV...

      Read more
        3 days ago
  • In some ways, JLR might be ahead of the game as far as how they market their LandRover products. There's a version for everybody. You can add features to any of the versions and find that pricing will overlap but the fully loaded lower model will still out spec the next version up for the same price. You might think that they are mass produced, but the reality is that given the spread of markets the production is sold in, they are actually quite rare and fit the premium end of the sales spectrum as well. They also cross fertilise beneath the skin on their technical solutions and running gear, so it's only the body and trim that is different. In the modern world of 'just in time' supply, you can order pretty much whatever you want only a very short time between order and delivery. This gives huge flexibility to what comes off the production line as far as what your product looks like. All in all, they've got that bit sorted. Like every other vehicle manufacturer, they're confronted with the imminent prospect of having to make their profits run on electricity, but will a good number of competitors having signposted the way, solutions can be copied rather than invented from the ground up. JLR is also now under Chinese control and as such they have access to Chinese EV technology, which is also at Tesla levels of efficiency and sophistication, so that ought not be a stumbling block either. The Disco is a well known brand. People like it and still buy it, so killing it off and trying to fill the gap with other branded models might not actually make financial or sales sense? We will see.

      9 days ago
    • Well Land Rovers have been basically the same under the skin for ever, as are most cars from every company I can think of, also not Chinese owned, they have taken out a loan, but TATA is the owner

        8 days ago
    • I thought China had a financial interest in it? Still, TATA will be shopping in China for parts and ideas, purely because the Chinese are so far ahead of everyone else except Tesla. Indian business culture is holding India back by comparison...

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        8 days ago
  • Neither are British made!

    Both have reliability concerns!

    The Discovery looks like every other blob like all other SUV these days except for the nasty rear number plate!

    Defender looks more unique

    Think people would have preferred the new Defender to be more like the Disco MK1, minimal black boxes and painted plastic?

      9 days ago
    • Apparently the Land Rover Discovery production is being brought back to the UK so maybe the Defender might return as well.

        9 days ago
    • It's already expensive cars, if they were built in the UK the price would have been much higher unfortunately.

        4 days ago