2019 Land Rover Discovery 3.0 HSE SD6 Review
Isaac Bober’s 2019 Land Rover Discovery 3.0 HSE SD6 Review with Price, Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict and Score.
In a nutshell: After 30 years, the Land Rover Discovery is more capable and comfortable than ever.
2019 Land Rover Discover 3.0 HSE SD6 Specifications
Price From $111,078+ORCs Warranty three years, 100,000km Service Intervals 12 months, 26,000km Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel V6 Power 225kW at 3750rpm Torque 700Nm from 1500-1750rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Drive permanent four-wheel drive with low-range Dimensions 4970mm long, 2073mm wide, 1909mm high, 2922mm wheelbase Ground Clearance 210-283mm Wading Depth 900mm Angles Up to 34-degrees approach, 27.5-degrees breakover and 30-degrees departure in off-road height Weight 2236kg Towing 3500kg maximum braked GVM 3050kg GCM 6550kg Boot Space up to 2406 litres (seven-seats) Spare full-size underslung Fuel Tank 85 litres Thirst 7.8L/100km claimed combined
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Land Rover Discovery since its launch at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1989. And, since then it’s quietly evolved as a signature model in the Land Rover line-up, although this is only the third ‘all-new’ Discovery in that 30 years.
Indeed, over the decades its developed from being a rugged family-oriented off-roader into what it is right now, essentially three vehicles in one: a comfortable family vehicle with seven seats, a leather-clad luxury vehicle, and an incredibly capable off-roader.
But this latest-generation model, launched in 2017, saw a move further upmarket with the design both on the inside and out, and a step away from the two-box profile that the Discovery had carried from its launch in 1989. It’s now more rounded, but still with hints of old Discovery. More than that, it stepped away from the Discovery’s traditional separate chassis design, moving to a monocoque design borrowing, more or less, the aluminium underpinnings from the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport which allowed a weight saving of more than 400kg.
What’s the price and what do you get? The 3.0 SD6 HSE we tested lists from $111,078+ORCs but we all know how luxury car makers play this game, and the price can quickly grow once you start working your way through the cost-options list. For instance, our test car had all sorts of extra-cost bits and bobs on it. These included, Terrain Response 2 for $2110, a locking rear differential for $1110, the Black Exterior Pack $1400, the sliding front sunroof and fixed rear panoramic roof $4370, the Advanced Tow Assist $850, Carpathian Grey paint $4110, electrically reclining second-row seats $1980, powered third-row seats $650, seven seats $3470, heated front seats $850, front centre cooler compartment $850, Meridian Surround Sound System $3000, 360-degrees surround view monitor $470, and so much more. In the end, our test car tipped the scales at more than $140,000+ORCs.
Getting your head around just what is standard and what isn’t is a complete mine-field and one I don’t plan on walking here, so, the above are some of the extras our tester had fitted, I’m sure there were more but I went cross-eyed looking through the options list. The infotainment system now offers Apple and Android connectivity, there’s plenty of active safety like autonomous emergency braking and even intelligent speed limiting, although this is part of a cost-options pack (but it’s standard on a Ford Focus). You also get a leather interior, but as you can see above, you’ve got to pay a stack for the seven seats that just about every Disco seems to have – indeed, I shudder to think what the wait time would be if you wanted the ‘free’ five-seat configuration. Beyond this, the build quality and materials used inside are on-par with more expensive Range Rover product; the carpet is plush and the leather the kind you find on those expensive leather lounges in stately homes.
So, let’s summarise by saying that with the Land Rover Discovery the standard car is only okay equipped but that the sky is literally the limit.
What’s the interior like? As mentioned, the look and feel of the materials is all very Range Rover and while many of the controls are similar, key differences include things like the climate control panel that folds down to reveal a hidden storage space, and the cost-optional cooled centre console storage bin. In fact, storage is one of the Discovery’s real strong suits, with room for several iPads in a hidden storage area beneath the twin cup holders, and the return of the curry hook in the passenger foot well.
The large 10-inch infotainment screen has so much functionality that it’ll take you weeks and months to get to the bottom of it all, from camera settings, to bespoke Land Rover app connectivity and more (you can fold down the seats via the screen and so much more besides). Thankfully, for me, Apple and Android connectivity is included allowing for a much simpler interface.
And that large screen and its incredible depth of functionality has allowed for a uncluttered cabin and dashboard design. Thankfully, there are still physical climate control buttons and dials. And speaking of climate control…when you press the ‘air recirculate’ button you’ll only get recycled air on a timer, meaning, just as you get halfway through a tunnel you’ll realise it’s switched off and is sucking smog in from outside. To push through that barrier, you’ve got to hold your finger on the switch until it flashes. But just remember that it will default off every time you turn off the vehicle.
What’s the passenger space like? The front seats are incredibly comfortable and with plenty of adjustment too, and while the driving position is a little lower than you get in older Discovery variants, you still get a commanding view out across the bonnet. In fact, vision right around the vehicle is good, only becoming a little compromised when it comes to rear vision if you’ve got the second- and third-row in use. Fortunately, the reversing camera offers a crisp and wide-screen view to make reversing a cinch.
The lower set driving position, compared with Discovery of yore carries over into the rear where the stadium-style seating isn’t quite as pronounced as before reducing forward visibility for those in the back seat. Leg and head room is good in the back, and the second-row seat can slide forwards and backwards by 170mm, but there’s not a lot of foot room and so you’ll need the driver and passenger to raise their seats to make things more comfortable.
Our test car had the optional powered reclining second-row seats and powered third-row seats, making folding the back seats and raising the third-row very easy. That doesn’t mean getting into the third-row is easy, because the gap you’ve got to step through isn’t huge and if you’re on an incline that folded seat can run backwards without warning as it doesn’t lock into place when slid forwards.
But once in the back there’s good head and leg room, but like the second-row, foot room isn’t amazing and you’ll need to get those in the second-row to slide the seats forward for a little more room. The good news is that even if you do that, those in the back will still have plenty of room. Such is the level of insulation that even someone sat right in the back of the Disco will be able to speak easily with the driver.
What’s the boot space like? With the third-row folded flat into the floor there’s a huge 1231 litres of storage space and 2406 litres of storage space with the second-row folded down. It’s a huge and versatile space but not as practical as on previous-generation Discovery and that’s because of the tapered shape of the new car pinching in at the roof. But there are four strong tie down points mounted down in the corners. The powered tailgate swings up and out of the way quickly and at six-feet tall I could stand under it without touching it, there’s an inner powered tailgate which when lowered provides a 285mm long bench to sit on, effectively performing the job of the old split tailgate.
What’s the performance like? An update to the 3.0-litre V6 last year saw power jump to 225kW (from 190kW) at 3750rpm and 700Nm of torque (up from 600Nm) from 1500-1750rpm and so performance is effortless. Sure, that’s a well-worn descriptor but in this case, it’s totally applicable; you put your foot down on the throttle and within a moment you’re on the other side of town. We’ve driven the Discovery with smaller engines and it works, but this engine is the pick from our point of view.
But it’s not perfect. There’s a touch of lag from a standing start, meaning that when you press the accelerator there’s a moment’s hesitation before the Disco gets going. Although whether this is actually ‘turbo lag’ is open for debate because the transmission too is probably at fault. See, it generally launches you in second gear but depending on the gradient of the hill will take a moment and instead let you start off in first gear… possibly it’s a combination of the two that give the moment of hesitation when starting off…
But once the Disco does get moving the acceleration is intoxicating with the smooth eight-speed automatic transmission keeping the thing galloping towards the horizon or simply just humming along in traffic. Up hills, around town, on the highway, the SDV6 always feels relaxed but ever ready to sling-shot you on your way.
What’s it like on the road? It’s excellent. The air suspension irons out even the most rutted and broken stretches of road and is quiet into the bargain. And the excellent all-wheel drive system ensures that not even the most ham-fisted driver could unstick the thing.
The engine contributes massively to the SDV6 HSE’s relaxed nature on the road with bucket loads of power and torque to make progress swift and eases. But this thing is more relaxed cruiser than sporting SUV. It’s not on the same page as, say a BMW X5 but then the Discovery can do things the X5 could never dream of…
This means you should expect a smidge of body-roll through corners (but that’s all part of the Land Rover / Range Rover experience) and it’s a not sickness-inducing roll; you just feel the thing lean in the corner, grip hard and go. The thin-rimmed steering wheel, again, is a bit of a Land Rover throwback but I’d prefer it to be a little thicker in the hand as I think it exacerbates a sense of slackness in the straight-ahead and contributes to the sensation of leaning in corners; the steering could probably be a little quicker and more feelsome too.
This isn’t such a problem when you’re driving at speed but it’s when tootling around town and negotiating multi-storey car parks where you need to be a little careful as the physically big Disco and its slow steering can see you touch kerbs if you’re not paying attention.
What’s it like off the road? Again, brilliant. Our Discovery had Terrain Response 2 which offers an ‘Automatic’ mode which when used allows the vehicle to determine the correct mode. And those modes are, Grass/Gravel/Snow; Mud/Ruts; Sand; Rock Crawl; Normal. All modes except for Rock Crawl are available in both high and low-range (50:50 drive split). There are plenty of similar terrain-based systems on the market but Land Rover’s Terrain Response is the original and the best of them.
Clearance is another one of the Discovery’s strong suits. In road-height clearance is 210mm but then you’ve got two off-road height modes, 1 and 2. In 1 you get an extra 40mm of height (pictured below) giving you 250mm of clearance while in 2 you get an extra 73mm of clearance taking it to 283mm of clearance which is huge.
If you want to know more about how the Discovery performs off-road then you should follow this link to read Robert Pepper’s detailed off-road review where he pulls apart every skerrick of capability. See, the vehicle we had this week was fitted with ridiculous 21-inch alloys and so we didn’t go anywhere near as far off-road as the Discovery can go. The smallest wheel you can get is 19-inches.
But we did put the thing across a few of our favourite rutted sections of track and suffice it to say that no other vehicle I’ve driven across the ruts has driven them as easily as the Discovery. The ruts were hardly noticeable with the wheels barely losing contact with the ground (thanks to the excellent clearance) and even when they did the traction control was so good that the wheel would stop spinning immediately and progress was maintained.
The Discovery offers 900mm of wading depth and the suspension is even capable of going into a super-extended mode if it detects that it’s caught up on something. And that is a super handy feature. Indeed, air suspension makes a lot of sense for off-road vehicles, and the Discovery’s angles range from 26-degrees approach, 21.2-degrees rampover, and 24.8-degrees departure angle in standard trim, and 34-degrees, 27.5-degrees and 30-degrees in off-road height.
We spent most of our time driving on high-range dirt roads and again, the Discovery, even on its 21-inch wheels and thin rubber, was the most comfortable and confidence-inspiring of any vehicle I’ve driven across them. The Discovery has always stood out as the best off-road wagon, if not the cheapest, and this new one continues to be the best off-road wagon on the market.
Can you tow with it? Yes. Land Rover specifies a maximum braked towing capacity of 3500kg with a 350kg towball download for the Discovery SDV6 (not all Discovery variants offers 3500kg). The kerb weight is listed as being from 2311kg with a GVM of 3050kg. The payload is 739kg and the GCM is listed as 6500kg. But the good news is that the GCM is roughly equal to the GVM plus maximum braked towing capacity meaning the payload is more or less the payload which is good. Back off the trailer weight and because the front and rear axle loads combined are more than the GVM then you’ve got additional load-carrying flexibility.
What about ownership? Land Rover is dragging its heels, like most premium car makers, when it comes to warranties offering three-years or 100,00km only. Yes, you can purchase extended warranties, but…Land Rover does offer a five-year service plan covering 130,000km for the 3.0L diesel which will cost you $2200.
What safety features does it get? The Discovery 5 has a five-star ANCAP rating. Standard safety features include ABS, EBD, Emergency Brake Assist, Cornering Brake Control, Electronic Traction Control, Dynamic Stability Control, Lane Departure Warning, HDC with off-road ABS, Hill Launch Assist, Roll Stability Control, reverse camera, front side impact air bags, side curtain airbags and roll-over deployment of restraints.