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Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE review
Model: Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE
Bodystyle: Five-door SUV
Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel
Transmission: six-speed automatic
GALLERY: Land Rover Discovery 4
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What is it?
If Carlsberg made cars, it would probably make them like the Discovery 4. Think living room on wheels and you've got the idea; seating for seven on large, comfortable leather recliners, a digital TV, a fridge (a £235 cost option) and a surround-sound stereo system. What more could you want from a car?
Space? Not a problem with the Disco; there's seating for seven. Off-road capability? You've come to the right place. The Discovery range has often been noted for its impressiveness in the brown stuff and this latest version takes this one step further.
Over at dictionary corner, Land Rover's acronym man has been busy adding a few more names to the Disco 4, most notably HSA, aka 'hill start assist', and GAC, otherwise known as 'gradient acceleration control'. These help you whether you're on road or off it, by balancing the car's throttle and brakes when climbing and descending slopes.
Where does it fit in?
The Land Rover range has a very definitive split. On one side there are the standard Land Rover models like the Defender and the entry-level Freelander. Then there's the upmarket Range Rovers that trade a little of the toughness for a more divine driving experience.
The Discovery slots somewhere in the middle. It can get down and dirty almost as well as the Defender, yet it has a luxurious interior and great on-road manners. Best of all, without a Range Rover badge it has a humbler image which appeals to many buyers.
Rivals pop up in the form of the Mercedes M-Class, Audi Q7 and the Volvo XC90.
Is it for you?
The Discovery 3 won plaudits left, right and centre thanks to its iconic design but its 2.7-litre twin-turbo engine didn't win it many friends due to a lack of low-down grunt. Land Rover has fixed this by boring the engine out to three litres.
It's also posher, both in terms of exterior styling and interior comfort, to please our cousins on the other side of the Atlantic, who thought the previous one was too utilitarian. The Disco has also received the signature bullet-sprayed front grille like the Range Rover lineup.
What does it do well?
Of particular note is just how well the new Disco rides. The suspension and damping is smooth enough to soothe your passengers, yet engaging enough to stop the tall body leaning over in bends.
It also rides with a delicacy and control you just don't experience in the stiffly sprung German cars. Thanks to precise steering it drives rather smartly for something so top heavy and that twin-turbo is a peach, providing an abundance of low-down torque to quell any fears of a slow getaway.
Power is up by 10% to 245hp and torque up 15% to a rather useful 442lb/ft, noticeable not just in town when pulling out of junctions but also on the motorway, where the Discovery pulls energetically.
Thankfully, Land Rover has upgraded the brakes for the Disco 4 to cope with this extra speed, though you do still have to be firm with the brake pedal to slow its bulk down.
What doesn't it do well?
This is not a cheap car to run, diesel engine or not. Despite the increased power and larger engine, fuel economy is improved by 9%, which is a great feat, but - you'll still only be seeing 30.4mpg combined.
However, on our test run, which took in more than 1,000 miles on a trip to Northern Ireland and back, we didn't even see the gauge go as high as that, averaging 25mpg in all. That makes it as fuel efficient as a smoothly driven Porsche 911 Carrera.
One other potential area for concern is Land Rover's reliability, though in this year's JD Power survey the Discovery made fifth in a list of 11 SUVs, ahead of the BMW X5 and VW Tiguan. So maybe the emerging powerhouse that is Jaguar Land Rover is turning this particular corner? Time will tell...
What's it like to live with?
Land Rover has made great leaps forward in terms of cabin quality. The centre console design is more cohesive with a more logical spread of buttons, while the quality of the materials looks and feel very classy.
The range-topping HSE model is well stocked with essential and not-so-vital-but-nice-to-haves, but if you're venturing off-road or towing regularly you should upgrade to the multi-camera system for £715. Via the TFT screen you can see the car at various angles and it will help to prevent damage to the bodywork in tight situations.
Then there are the third row of seats which fold out of the floor in a flash and prove roomy enough for adults thanks to a raised roofline and a second row of pews that slide forwards and backwards.
How green is it?
We've already covered the economics side of running a Discovery, but in terms of environmental impact the 3.0 diesel actually outshines the old 2.7 motor, releasing 244g/km in comparison to that engine's 270g/km.
Other technological advances, such as regenerative charging, means the alternator will charge the battery when it is most economical to do so, such as when the car is coasting rather than accelerating.
Furthermore, aerodynamic changes like the lower front spoiler and wheel deflectors help to reduce drag.
Would we buy it?
The Land Rover Discovery is a fantastic all-rounder. Both a great family car and a superb off-roader, it really is like a living room on wheels. High running costs aside, this is one of the best family cars on sale. If only it had a kitchen sink...
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