Is there still room for the Land Rover Discovery?
The new Defender may cannibalize it
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.
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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