2018 Land Rover Discovery Review – Australia
Isaac Bober’s 2018 Land Rover Discovery Review with pricing, spec, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: Land Rover has softened the corners of the new Discovery and dropped the old split tail-gate, but it’s still one of the most versatile 4×4 on the planet.
2018 Land Rover Discovery
Pricing From $65,690+ORC (five-seat S) – $171,461.40+ORC (seven-seat HSE Luxury) and $131,871.40+ORC (First Edition)
Warranty three-years, unlimited kilometres (additional 12-24 months extended warranty available)
Safety five-star ANCAP and Euro NCAP
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel; 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin turbo-diesel; 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel
Power 132kW at 4000rpm; 177kW at 4000rpm; 190kW at 3750rpm
Torque 430Nm at 1500rpm; 500Nm at 1500rpm; 600Nm from 1750-2250rpm
Transmission eight-speed automatic
Drive permanent four-wheel drive with standard locking centre differential
Dimensions 4970mm (L); 1846mm (H); 2073mm – mirrors in (W); 2923mm (WB)
Turning Circle 12.7m
Ground Clearance 283mm
Angles 34-degrees (A); 30-degrees (D); 27.5-degrees (R)
Towing 3500kg maximum braked
Towball Download 350kg
Boot Space from 258-2500 litres
Fuel Tank 77-85 litres depending on variant
Thirst From 6.0L/100km to 7.2L/100km combined depending on variant
THE 2018 LAND ROVER Discovery goes on-sale in Australia in August and was launched to Australian media this week in the Red Centre; smack bang on the doorstep of Uluru. Keeping its seven-seat interior layout which in Discovery 4 was considered the best seven-seat arrangement in all car-dom, the new Discovery drops its boxy shape for a more rounded look that borrows heavily from Discovery Sport and other recent Range Rover designs. So, has it forsaken function for form?
Maybe. The interior remains versatile and an adult can still sit in the third row and clambering into that third row is now easier than ever. But our time to crawl over the Discovery was limited, so, we’ll have to reserve our final judgement until we’ve had it through the Practical Motoring garage in early August.
Luckily, there are key elements of the Discovery’s design in the new one to keep it linked to its forebears, some of these being the stepped roofline and the C-pillar and even the swing-out tailgate; although there will be those who grumble about losing the split-tailgate from Discovery 3 and 4. To keep punters happy, a small luggage holder can be folded down to form a bench with the tailgate open – it can hold up to 300kg. It’s standard on HSE and HSE Luxury and a cost option on other variants ($560).
For those who like numbers, new Discovery measures 4970mm long, 2220mm wide (mirrors out) and 1846mm tall, making it 141mm longer but both narrower and lower than before. Its 2923mm wheelbase has increased by 38mm over the old car.
New Discovery is priced from $65,960+ORC for a five-seat 132kW Td4 variant; $87,990+ORC for the 177kW Sd4 SE variant (the listed price includes the cost of adding seven seats, a $3400 cost option) and $103,760+ORC for the 190kW SdV6 HSE variant (seven seats). While the third-row of seats are optional, Land Rover at the recent local launch at Uluru said it is basically an automatic spec for the vehicles and an owner not wanting the third-row would have to specifically order it without the extra seats.
The Discovery Td4 variant will be a five-seater with the extra cost-option of adding a third-row; that vehicle will also not get airbag suspension and will only have a single-speed transfer case, so, no low-range. And you won’t be able to add it, either. While some sites have already begun speculating what the Td4 will be like to drive, given that variant won’t be here until the end of the year and will be the lightest in the range well reserve judgement until we’ve driven it.
What’s the interior of the Land Rover Discovery like?
The looks we’ll leave alone until we’ve spent more time with the new Discovery and so too with the interior as there’s a whole lot to unpack. The launch, which ran across two days, only consisted of a couple of hours with the car each day and much of that was spent driving. But, fortunately I did make sure I spent some time in the second- and third-row seats. So, let’s start at the back and work our way forward.
With all seven seats in use, there’s 258 litres of storage space in the boot which won’t be enough for the luggage of all seven people, but it’ll be more than enough room for the weekly shop. Dropping just one of the two seats in the third row liberates 698 litres of space, growing to a huge 1137 litres with the third-row folded flat into the floor.
There’ll be those moaning about the loss of the split tailgate of the previous model Discovery, but to keep them happy there’s a luggage holder which can be folded down electrically to form a bench which will hold 300kg.
Folding the third-row seats down can be done from the rear of the vehicle via buttons on the left-hand side or, if you plump for the top-spec infotainment and connectivity package, via an app from your phone. The third-row seats fold flat into the floor with four sturdy eyelets in each corner of the boot.
Moving into the third-row seats and Land Rover has made good on its promise to provide a space suitable for 95th percentile adults meaning my six-foot frame was accommodated comfortably in the back even with the second-row seats pushed back towards the rear. The second-row seats slide forwards and backwards. Headroom is okay and there’s decent elbowroom even with two people in the third-row, but it doesn’t feel as airy in the back as the third-row did in Discovery 4.
And the same goes for the second-row. While you can slide the seats forwards and backwards and recline the seat backs the glasshouse doesn’t feel quite as deep as the Discovery 4, but this is perhaps deceptive due to the shape of the window. Depending on how much legroom those in the front want will dictate just how much legroom you get in the back. And if you want extra foot room, which is a bit tight then those in the front will need to raise up their seat. Rear air vents are standard, but three-zone climate control is only standard on HSE and HSE Luxury.
Climb into the front and legroom is impressive and the seats offer plenty of adjustment. The same goes for the steering wheel, so, getting comfortable behind the wheel is a cinch. Vision right around is good too but, again, it doesn’t feel quite as airy as the old car. But I’ll need to spend more time with the Discovery to make a final and complete assessment about whether the transition from a box to a more rounded design has been a good one.
The vehicles at the launch were all either HSE or HSE Luxury variants with either Sd4 or TdV6 engines and all had plenty of extra-cost options fitted. In general, though, the interior of the new Discovery is very well appointed with soft-touch and beautifully textured materials used throughout; I particularly liked the puffer jacket-esque material used on the top of the doors. The carpet on the floor and in the boot, is all deep pile stuff (standard on HSE Luxury but a $620 cost option on other variants) with the interior of the Discovery feeling more like a luxury car than a rugged off-road wagon but then that’s the point… Land Rover knows that only a small number of buyers will ever take their Discovery off-road while most want it as an urban runabout and, so, to win buyers away from other luxury brands, like BMW and Audi, the interior had to be as sumptuous as possible. And it is.
The infotainment system offers touchscreen interface with voice control and smartphone connectivity but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto which is disappointing. There are up to nine USB ports and six 12V outlets as well as the ability to use the car as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices.
What’s the Land Rover Discovery like on the road?
Land Rover had both the Sd4 and TdV6 engines at the local launch (we won’t see the Td4 until the end of the year), but I always somehow managed to end up in an Sd4 which was fine because this is such a good engine for the Discovery. Thanks to the weight drop over the old car this new one feels much nimbler.
The engine itself offers 177kW and 500Nm of torque and can get to 100km/h in 8.3 seconds, in case you’re wondering, and will drink down a combined 6.5L/100km, but not if carrying a family and its luggage. We’ll be able to test out the fuel claim in the real world next month. All engines in the range are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission which is about as smooth a transmission as you’ll find anywhere.
The gear selector is the typical Jaguar Land Rover rotary selector and I’m a fan of it as it takes up less room on the centre console and looks cool into the bargain. Beneath that are cup holders which can be slid out of the way to liberate enough storage space for four iPads; there’s also storage behind the climate controls. The new Discovery, of course, gets Land Rover’s clever Terrain Response 2 as well as All-Terrain Progress Control which allows the driver to select a crawl speed which the vehicle will then maintain. All variants except the Td4 will offer both high and low range; meaning the Td4 will be single range only, or all-wheel drive, it will also run coil springs instead of air springs.
The local launch offered a short off-road course with a few short steep hills that were only about half-again as-long-as the vehicles, a short sloppy water crossing and some moguls which attempted to demonstrate the ability of the Discovery to keep going forward in a cross axle situation; and it did.
Beyond that there were some short, straight bitumen sections and a loop along a track through the scrub which, if I’m being totally honest, could have been handled by a two-wheel drive. Only one small dune might have given a 2WD some trouble. What I’m trying to say is that I couldn’t fully get to grips with the Discovery off-road and so a complete assessment of its ability will have to wait for another month. But, suffice it to say, the new Discovery seems to have lost none of its off-road prowess. It offers ground clearance of up to 283mm, combined with an approach angle of up to 34 degrees, a break-over angle of 27.5 degrees and departure angle of 30 degrees. It’ll wade up to 900mm and wheel articulation is 500mm.
What was noticeable from the brief road loop was just how smooth the new Discovery feels on the blacktop. Gone is the slight heaviness it used to have replaced with a pointability that it’s never had before. The steering wheel itself feels thin in the hands and is big but you warm to it after a few kilometres; the steering action is nice and direct with just enough weight and feedback to feel connected to the car’s front end, particularly at low speed.
The brakes are nice and progressive and the throttle pick-up is perfect, allowing you to finally balance the car and inch it forwards with just minimal pressure applied to the pedal. Even the short stints behind the wheel showed off the suspension work that Land Rover’s engineers have done, helped no doubt by the fact the vehicle is lighter than its predecessor, giving it a suppleness and composure no matter the surface.
What about the Land Rover Discovery’s safety features?
The Land Rover Discovery rights a wrong of its predecessor by getting an ANCAP safety rating; and a five-star one, no less. This follows on from Euro NCAP testing which also saw the new Discovery awarded a five-star rating.
Beyond its five-star rating, the new Discovery offers airbags which will extend to the third-row if it’s fitted, rear seatbelt pre-tensioners on the outboard seats only (so, not the middle seat), an alarm, rollover deployment of restraints, traction and cstability controls, hill descent control, cornering brake control, keyless entry (HSE and HSE Luxury) and start, autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning, reversing camera with front and rear parking aids, a surround camera system is standard on HSE Luxury and cost optional on other variants, other active safety systems are part of cost-optional packs.
So, what do we think about the Land Rover Discovery?
The new Discovery maintains a visual link to its forebears but is neatly tied in to the current design language of Land Rover and Range Rover. The interior remains a comfortable and versatile place with room in the third row for a full-sized adult; unless you go for the cost optional panoramic roofs, one for the main cabin and one for the third-row, the interior doesn’t feel quite as light and airy as the old car, but it feels a whole lot more luxurious.
The new Discovery has done exactly what Land Rover wanted it to do and that is to remain the most capable and versatile seven-seat 4×4 on the planet as well as being one of the most refined and luxurious to win over buyers from other luxury brands. And that’s working for Land Rover, with Land Rover Australia saying around 60% of current orders for new Discovery and there around 700 of them, are conquest orders with buyers coming from brands like BMW and Audi. And just like those brands, there are a staggering array of cost-optional packs to choose from, with prices ranging from $500 to $5600.
We’ll have a full and complete assessment, including video review, of the new Land Rover Discovery in late-August.