What's it like?
When Land Rover replaced the Range Rover in 2012, it acknowledged that its customers wanted essentially the same car they had, just better. Almost five years later, it has plainly taken the same approach taken with the Discovery - and the result is a comparable triumph.
Anyone still resolutely bearing a grudge about the possible similarities with the Range Rover Sport’s belligerent dynamics can rest easy: the Land Rover drives nothing like its platform sibling. It feels palpably taller, calmer, burlier, extraordinarily comfortable in its own skin and proudly mindful of its occupants' isolation.
The old Discovery, with the unflappable assurance of a large policeman wrapping a blanket around your shoulders, constantly affirmed that everything was going to be okay, whether you were on the outside lane of a wet motorway or rock crawling in the Outer Hebrides. This new model does precisely the same thing, except now the copper is simultaneously handing you an iPad.
It's quite possible that the full weight of the car’s tech payload will pass by even the most diligent of users. Although no-one purchasing the HSE trim will fail to appreciate the latest InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, the Meridian sound system or the convenience of having both rows of back seats electronically powered, it's the computerised ballast underneath that staggers when the going gets tough.
In standard format, alongside the transmission’s low-range function and almost a metre of wade depth, you’ll get the same electronic air suspension and centre differntial as supplied with the Range Rover Sport – enough, realistically, to see you safely and smoothly over 90% of terrain. For the remaining 10%, there’s the £1100 Capability Plus Pack, which features an additional locking differential for the rear axle, Terrain Response 2 and All Terrain Progress Control.
Throw in the £365 Advanced Tow Assist (a system which allows you to effectively steer a reversing trailer with the Terrain Response controller) and the limit of the Discovery’s off-road prowess wasn’t easily discoverable even at a thoroughly sodden Eastnor Castle – the spiritual home of Land Rover’s development team.
Not once, it must be said, during either the mud-plugging in Herefordshire or the Welsh B roads beforehand did we yearn for the larger displacement of the 3.0-litre engine. The praise already visited on the more powerful Ingenium unit is well-deserved; the 369lb ft of torque from 1500rpm being comfortable enough to make light of the car's 2.2-tonne weight.
For those particularly keen to merge with motorway traffic in brusque SUV style or power away from mid-range apexes, the gutsier unit might be preferable (it is inevitably a smidge more refined when doing either, too) but for those interested in owning and driving a Discovery for what differentiates it from the Range Rover Sport, the 2.0-litre engine fits the languorous, enigmatic, yet down-to-earth brief almost perfectly.
Should I buy one?
Yes, and you won’t be alone in doing so. Land Rover has taken around 20,000 orders worldwide already, and it expects demand to be constrained by available supply in the immediate future. The majority of those buyers, many of them repeat in the UK, have opted for the six-cylinder engine they’ve already formed an attachment to – and that’s fine.