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by David Phillips, 28th September 2016

The fifth-generation Discovery has been unveiled. But is the shock of the new going to prove much to Land Rover enthusiasts, asks Land Rover Monthly editor, Dave Phillips

For nearly 27 years, Land Rover’s Discovery has been the most versatile vehicle in the world. People carrier, capacious van and superb off-roader performer, it is also the model of choice for anybody who does a lot of towing. It is also the car that saved Land Rover from oblivion.

When the original was launched in 1989 it was only the third model in Land Rover’s line-up. They gambled the family silver on the hunch that there was room for middle-market 4x4 between the utilitarian Land Rover and upmarket Range Rover.

If they’d lost, Land Rover would most likely have suffered the same fate as Austin, Morris, Hillman, Singer, Riley, Humber and a host of other deceased British marques. Happily they won and Discovery became Europe’s best-selling 4x4 (until it was usurped by its Freelander stablemate in 1997).

Since then, the model has gone from strength to strength, with Discoverys 1, 2, 3 and 4. Each one carried over plenty of design cues from its predecessor. But now the fifth generation has been revealed – and here at LRM we’re not convinced it looks very much like its illustrious forebears. We’re confident the new look will grow on us – eventually – but will it win over the hearts of enthusiasts? Do contact us and let us know…



Lots. In fact far too much to list here. New Discovery is laden with technology, which is sure to delight buyers eager to splash out upwards of £43,495 when it goes on sale in the spring.

For example, the flexible interior provides seven full-sized adult seats in three rows, instantly configurable using a smartphone app that delivers the world’s first Intelligent Seat Fold (ISF) technology. (Get used to the acronym: there’s gonna be a lot more…)

Lightweight aluminium monocoque construction saves 480kg and helps reduce emissions while delivering best-ever economy figures – up to 43.5mpg, in fact. With all but the front seats folded flat, there is over 2000 litres of load space. For loading passengers, Auto Access Height (AAH) technology reduces the ride height by up to 40mm when folk prepare to enter or exit the vehicle. Each Discovery comes with four 12V charging points and up to nine USB sockets. That should keep the younger passengers happy.


Ground clearance is 283mm (up 43mm) while a hugely-impressive maximum wading depth of 900mm – an increase of 200mm – puts Discovery in a class of its own.
The original Terrain Response was introduced in 2003 for the Disco 3. It has evolved significantly since and the latest multi-mode Terrain Response 2 turns you into an expert off-roader at the turn of a knob. It includes All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) which can be programmed to autonomously maintain a crawl speed chosen by the driver, allowing him or her concentrate on steering around obstacles.


When the original Discovery was launched to a cynical crowd of journalists in 1989, a model fitted with rail wheels took to the tracks to pull a train. A publicity stunt? Of course it was – but it certainly worked. Discovery has been the darling of caravanners (and anybody else who wanted to tow horse boxes and anything with an Ifor Williams slant) ever since.

No vehicle has ever won as many tow awards as the four previous incarnations of Discovery and there’s no doubt that the fifth generation will continue that trends.
With a maximum towing capacity of 3500kg, plus new cutting-edge technology like advanced Tow Assist (ATS), which allows drivers to complete difficult reversing manoeuvres with ease.

Even reversing numpties like yours truly should find it easier, as the technology takes care of the counter-intuitive counter-steering required to position trailers accurately when reversing, says Land Rover. I can’t wait to try that one out.


As expected, new Discovery is powered by JLR’s own range of four and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, all paired with a smooth and responsive ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. They include:

The award-winning twin-turbo Sd4 Ingenium four-cylinder diesel produces 240PS with an impressive 500Nm of torque and fuel economy of 43.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 171g/km.

Six-cylinder diesel power comes from the 258PS Td6, which delivers 600Nm of torque for strong performance, pulling power and efficiency.

For petrol customers, Land Rover’s advanced 340PS supercharged petrol 3.0-litre V6, the Si6, provides 450Nm of torque to deliver relaxed performance and capability.


Land Rover says: “New Discovery’s dramatic design represents a radical departure from previous models but retains established Discovery DNA. The trademark stepped roof and highly visible C-pillar are inspired by Discovery models of the past and distinguish the premium execution of New Discovery. The C-pillar design in particular gives the profile more drama and creates a design cue for the whole Discovery family.

“The customary stepped roof is synonymous with Discovery and provides class-leading headroom in the third row of seats while a choice of panoramic roof options creates a feeling of space and light inside by bringing the outside in. The fixed design provides two separate sections and the largest ever glass area for a Land Rover roof, while the opening system provides a tilt-and-slide front section.”

But, while Land Rover is keen to emphasise the Discovery family DNA, it is clear that enthusiasts will probably insist on a paternity test. It is a radical departure from its predecessors – the shock of the new is even greater than the Geoff Upex-designed Discovery 3, launched back in 2003. The sheer presence and slab sides of the D3 (and the D4 that followed it) were unmistakably Land Rover. Sorry, but the new Discovery isn’t.

Back in 1989, Land Rover was terrfiied that the then-new Discovery might affect sales of its Range Rover flagship – so much so that Disco’s designers weren’t allowed to copy the popular two-piece tailgate, the lower half of which folded down to create handy “event seating” – a popular feature from grouse moor to polo field. Even HM The Queen was photographed enjoying a cuppa from the Royal Thermos while seated on a Range Rover tailgate. Commoners buying mere Discos had to be content with a side-hinged rear door.

Happily, these days Land Rover isn’t nearly so neurotic about such stuff and is happy to allow Disco owners to perch on their tailgates. In fact this model gets a new Powered Inner Tailgate (PIT) which incorporates an additional fold-down section that deploys when the tailgate is opened.


InControl Remote Premium (IRP) allows the owner to lock and unlock their vehicle using an app on their smartphone or smartwatch. InControl Secure (ICS) technology allows the owner to track a stolen vehicle using an app on their smartphone. If the vehicle is broken into or moved illegally, the app will alert the driver and the monitoring centre to help pinpoint and recover it as soon as possible. InControl Protect (ICP) boasts SOS Emergency call technology with Automatic Collision Detection and Optimised Assistance. In the event of an emergency, an SOS call notifies the emergency services of the location of the vehicle. If the vehicle breaks down, Optimised Assistance transmits its location and vehicle diagnostics data to a recovery company.


Discovery S        £43,495 OTR
Discovery SE        £49,495 OTR
Discovery HSE        £56,995 OTR
Discovery HSE Luxury    £62,695 OTR
Discovery First Edition        £68,295 OTR (Limited to 600 in the UK)

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