After 28 years the square-jawed Land Rover Discovery has had a radical style change for its fifth rendition. I discover that the new model has a very different character.
In 1989 Land Rover (not yet named the Defender) had been around for 41 years and the Range Rover for 20. The Japanese were invading the 4×4 market so the British brand struck back with the Discovery, the golden middle between Land Rover and Range Rover. 28 years later 1.2 million units have been sold over four generations. Time for the fifth edition, named the New Discovery, and a radical design change. Land Rover’s chief designer has Gerry McGoverned it, so at first glance it’s more of a new Evoque model than a new Disco. The square-edged eccentricity is gone. Goodbye 4×4, hello SUV. The new groomed city slicker has lost character, but is still a technological marvel. It is built on the Range Rover Sport platform, the one with aluminium architecture. It’s grown longer by 14cm, while losing a considerable amount of weight, 480kgs to be exact. The ride comfort is much better than before, helped by the optional air suspension. The terrain response is brilliant, and the wading depth is an impressive 90cm. What we have here is an extremely capable SUV with Land Rover genes – a proper 7-seater family car that can pull 3.5 tons of trailer weight.
But is it still a Discovery? Die-hard Land Rover fans, who barely fathomed the fact that the legendary Defender left the scene in 2016, will frown upon the new look. They identify their adventure rides with the full-bearded professional explorer Kingsley Holgate, who is the brand ambassador for Land Rover. They will miss the adventurous Discoveries of Camel Trophy fame. None of them will imagine bolting a ladder to the now single back door of the New Discovery or fit a bull-bar to the front. I believe that the New Discovery is still Kingsley Holgate, albeit less hairier.This is one is shaved, groomed and suited.
Land Rover Discovery TDV6 & Si6
Engine3.0-l. 4cyl. turbo diesel/3.0-l. V6 supercharged
Power190/250kW and 600/450Nm
Top Speed209/215 km/h
Pricefrom R980 000 to R1 457 500