December 11, 2017




2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE Review

Land Rover’s 5th gen posh country-hopper is the most luxurious, yet capable model yet. The familiar squared-off boxy body is gone, and is replaced by a pleasing, streamlined design. It is handsome, with a slightly aloof feel about it.

It won’t be for everyone. Some would prefer Land Rover stayed in the 80’s, but they have no taste. You only have to look at the sensual Velar to see where company ethos is heading.

Discovery shares a platform with her big, and even posher sister, Range Rover.

The interior is pure Range Rover too. This is very good, very good indeed. Features, electronics, and trim, are common across the JLR brands, and that’s a plus.

Our test car had a thrifty 3.0L V6 turbo diesel. Although the 190kw output seems a trifle modest, it has a mountain-climbing 600Nm of torque. Max speed is 209km, with a 0-100 of 8.1 seconds. There is nothing to apologise for there.

That’s impressive for a relatively small engine pulling 2,298kg of SUV. The tank means a highway trip of near 1,500km with a frugal foot and light load.

Simon Lai from behind the Wheel says there is an SVO version he is keen on.

You might view Land Rover as the entry level Range Rover, but you’d be dead wrong if you thought that meant compromise.

In fact, Discovery is delicious.

Rob Fraser from OzRomer.com.au sent info on a cool camper that might extend the range of our Disco 5. I’m not sure it really goes with the kind of buyer we are thinking will be interested in the Land Rover.

The handsome sloping roof, and angled waistline, have a touch of Range Rover Evoque. An optional ($3,480) glass sunshine roof makes the C pillar look like a retro roll-bar. Design has had the laying-on of a very light and skilled hand.

Rather annoyingly, full length roof rails are an $920 option, and the Yulong white metallic paint is a further $2010. That is many extra shekels a canny buyer must find.

Land Rover says it allows a buyer to personalize their trusty steed, but really, it is the just a way for car makers to keep the cash registers working harder.

Discovery HSE has adjustable air suspension with an off-road, and squat mode.

It gives extra height when you need it, but lowers to give passengers easy access. It is a long way down otherwise. It lowers at highway speeds too. Land Rover tries to eek out any fuel savings it can, and good on them for succeeding.

Lighting inside and out, is LED. Not only is it modern, but saves power.

Attractive DTRLs have a distinctive line to distinguish it from the rest of the JLR family. A double line across the rear makes the extra-large tail lights look like a show you’ve paid to go and see.

The single tailgate lifts electrically to reveal an inner tailgate.

There are buttons on the left inner wall of the cargo hold which lower the inner gate. Optional buttons lower the 2nd and 3rd row seats of the 7-seater.

Of course, the 7-seat option costs an extra $3,400. Surprisingly, power adjustment adds a further $630.

The controls are very clever. A computer uses sensors to detect the position of the seats.

Should they get tangled or sense an obstruction during a move, the direction reverses. Headrests fold by the touch of a button too. It isn’t just convenient, but adds a further touch of designer clout.

The carpeted rear floor is flat with fully useable space. Although the space is intended for bits and bobs, the carpet feels luxurious.

There are buttons inside the 2nd row doors, with further controls from the infotainment system.

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The 2nd row seats recline electrically which adds $1,940 to the price.

JRL says the smart phone app can control car functions too, including seats.

Interior space is beautifully designed.

It is spacious yet cosy. Some claim it is not as roomy as the previous model. Figures don’t back up that claim. An ambience is created by thick pillars creating the look of a safe cell in which to go bush-bashing.

Quality leather and woodgrain has been lavished throughout. There is Range Rover style aluminium trim on the centre console which, although classy, would easily scratch. The flat, highly-polished surface can reflect the sun straight into your eyes at certain times of day.

That’s not ideal, and I found myself covering my eyes, or the console, when the sun got low enough.

There are plenty of grab handles too, and believe me, you need them.

Stowage bins abound.

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The centre console is deep enough to swallow your arm. It is cooled by the AC flow, so will keep drinks at just the right temperature.

The centre stack has a nifty hidey hole behind the AC control dials. The dial panel swing open to reveal a place for sunglasses and mobiles. The AC controls switch thoughtfully to the main LCD screen while the flap is open.

Range Rover steering wheel buttons, infotainment, and centre console buttons and controls are common too. Sadly, smart cruise control is an option, but then most of the really good stuff is.

One thing that isn’t, is the 10” touch screen, which is standard on the HSE, as is the 380w Meridian sound system. I’m impressed by the sound quality, and the ease of use of the system.

The glitchy infotainment software seems to have been sorted, and the system responds fast to input. Previous systems froze, often leaving every menu on the screen simultaneously. It was hideous and needed to have the car restarted to sort it out.

The whole system feels more robust and trustworthy.

Voice control is useless, but then most voice control is. Most commands are met with an annoying prompt to retry. The range of commands is rather limited. Perhaps my voice just isn’t posh enough.

Satnav is fairly easy to use, but Apple Carplay would be even better.

I can’t believe some brands still persist with their clunky proprietary systems, No, it just won’t do. Buyers love their tech. They love their iPhones and want the integration Carplay offers.

Android users have Android Auto, but they’ll also be disappointed. Neither systems are can be had.

DAB radio should be standard on all audio systems. Our car had it and it’s brilliant. The clear sound and digital tuning make DAB a must have.

As I mentioned earlier, the Meridian speakers punch the waves directly in to your brain.

The Drive:

Land Rover Discovery now drives like a Range Rover, and that is fabulously, darling.

Initially, you feel the bulk of what is quite a large vehicle. The responsive engine and smooth 8 speed auto make low down traffic speeds easy. Once you get used to the size, you can really throw Discovery around like a toy.

There is no automated parking, so I relied on mirrors and skill. Fancy that? A driver actually driving.

Crystal clear cameras provide switchable views, including a 360° overhead aspect. You’re able to get quite close to objects without hitting them in ways not previously thought possible. Lots of brands have it, but the screen resolution often makes viewing difficult.

Discovery is easy to read.

Blind spot and lane monitoring make life a bit easier. The steering wheel gets a shake if you wander across lines without indicating. Lights flash if the system sees a car hiding in your blind spot.

The seats were a big hit on the school run. My 11yo nephew loves gadgets, and Discovery got a firm “Ollie approval” rating for comfort and convenience.

It was the highway where Discovery felt most at home. A round trip to Wombeyan caves via the Bowral road highlighted the comfort with which poor dirt roads are tackled.

Although capable of much more, this is how Discos will most likely be used.

The narrow dirt road clings precariously to the side of a gorge, terminating at a camp ground. Deep ruts and potholes were ironed out well. Only the odd clunker gave any rise for concern.

Importantly, the handling was completely unaffected.

There were no rattles apart from my teeth.

There are off-road programmes, and automatic 4WD to sort out the driving conditions. If you want a bit of entertainment, watch the system switch between 2 and 4WD, as it locks and unlocks diffs and hubs.

We still use those terms even though most of the clever stuff happens via the ABS.

Power and braking keep the rubber from slipping, while the driver concentrates on direction and speed.

SUV travel has morphed into suburban transport. Although Discovery is incredibly capable, and can tow 3,500kg, it probably won’t be called upon to do so.

Sway control keeps trailers neat and tidy, and height control gives access to a lifestyle hatch drivers can only dream of.

The inner hatch is a great place to perch while eating lunch at the races.

Discovery is a great all-rounder.

The manufacture standard is high, and reliability has improved greatly over recent years. JLR’s parent company, Indian giant TATA, has allowed Jaguar Land Rover to explore and invest. Quality control points along the build path have been improved too.

New standard features are being added, though many remain options.

Speaking of options, the base price of $103,661, increased to $120,581 with add-ons.

The Land Rover/Range Rover range is extensive, and the portfolio increases again with the arrival of the Velar.

The smallest of the SUVs is AWD, and the is even a Jaguar of you fancy a “growler” emblem. JLR wants an SUV in every niche, in an ever-expanding market. Australian buyers have been slowly moving towards premium brands, and Land Rover is placed to take advantage.

Beginning in 1948, Land Rover has the advantage of being among the very first SUVs ever made. They’ve been used in wars, and have been preferred by imperial explorers. That’s an awful lot of experience.

Land Rovers have had many body shapes. Utes and wagons have been modified to use in such diverse applications as Fire Fighting, and Ambulances. They’ve seen both Military and civil use.

George VI gave Land Rover a royal warrant in 1951, and you can’t get more British than that.

Price: $103,661 ($120,581 as tested)

Engine: 3.0 V6, Turbo Diesel, 190kw,/600Nm

Econ: 7.2L/100k

0-100: 8.1 seconds

Trans: 8-speed auto

 

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