|Understated, classier than a Range Rover?|
But times change, and the 2013 Discovery V6 diesel is, in some ways, a kind of Range Rover `Lite.' It oozes class now, instead of spores of rust, and you can buy a Disco without first passing a training course in auto-electrics.
Apart from the fantastic view and excellent driving position, the first thing that strikes you inside the HSE 3.0 diesel is the simple, but elegant dashboard layout and the overall ambience. Leather seats, plush carpets, proper chunky door handles and an impressive amount of room for rear passengers too. This is a very nice place to be, you're definitely travelling Club Class.
Push the engine start button and that signature Jaguar/Land Rover central dial glides up, then you click from Park into Drive, as easy as whacking an oven grill on for a bacon sandwich. There's a central touchscreen, which shows you what's happening behind when you click Reverse, and your Sat Nav, MPG, radio options, or 4-wheel drive modes are all dsplayed there.
|leather interior on the HSE model|
There aren't too many buttons to play with, and mostly it's a just a few seconds trial and error to figure out which button does what.
In the central console there's an impressive coolbox, which is big enough to hold a four pack of beers, not that you should be drinking and driving...but hey, your passengers might like a few scoops as you rumble down to the rugby club.
The only slight fault I noticed with the cabin layout is that the USB and iPod connections are inside the lid of the console - so if you want your music on, or someone needs their phone/tablet charging, the coolbox lid remains open and upright.
You can't rest your arm on top of it then, `cos your iPhone's plugged in....seems a bit of an afterthought really, surely there's a reason why people plug their phones into the front of the dashboard? It means the phone and cable aren't in the way.
The door pockets are huge and can easily handle a 2-litre bottle of Diet Coke. There's also a big sunroof, which personally I'm not that keen on ( just don't like sunroofs) but it does give a feeling of real space...boardroom level space.
|iPod/USB connection points not ideal|
First up, I only had use of the Discovery SDV6 for about an hour, so this is just an impression. But what stands out is the accomplished feel of the LR on a twisty road. Everything feels solid, predictable and super stable. You won't be racing any reps in their Audi A5s, but the V6 diesel has enough punch to make overtaking easy and that automatic transmission is near-perfect.
It covers the 0-60mph dash in just under 9 seconds, which is quick for a vehicle that weighs about the same as a terraced house in Wakefield.
Travelling back to Land Rover's test base in the Midlands, I stoppped at lights on the A45 and gunned the Discovery 4 away on green, surprising the Alfa Mito driver next to me. People just don't expect a 4X4 to rocket from the lights as quick as many `sporty' hatchbacks, but it does.
It's an eight speed box, just like the big Jaguar diesels, and equally as impressive on the open road. You can make rapid progress in the Discovery and it's physically such an intimidating front end on the car that lots of people in small hatchbacks tend to cower a bit and let you past. Did I go all Clarkson for a moment then?
Well yes, but that's how the Discovery gets to your inner Mr Toad - it just feels SUCH fun flinging a mahoosive 4X4 about. Naughty but nice. I love the Spongebob Squarepants styling of the Discovery, it looks Tonka toy tough and apart from the slightly dated back end, I think this latest version is the most handsome yet.
Come on, the HSE model starts at about £53,000, before you add any options, so do you really care that it's in the high VED tax bracket, and will cost you £750 for the first year?
Fuel consumption, even with stop-start technology, is about 33mpg average, but the on-screen display kept reminding me that by driving fast I was getting more like 28mpg.
Need to make more of a staement? You can add things like blingier wheels, privacy glass and choose fancy paint schemes. It is easy to get the HSE model price over £60,000, which is lots of cash for a Land Rover. The Discovery range starts at £40,000, if you can live without leather seats, touchscreen Sat Nav, rear parking camera etc.
In truth, this is a company car, or a personal lease package, you'd be throwing money away owning it. The other advantage with a business use deal is that the expensive servicing, tyres and spares are all on the company, not you.
|Back end looks slightly dated?|
So if your company is doing well, then maybe you should treat yourself to a bit of old school 4X4 fun, that's stuffed with modern technology.
More at; www.discovery.landrover.com