Over recent times, Land Rover has pushed itself from a 4X4 brand into one whose cars are some of the most highly regarded and sought-after around. The Discovery follows this trend, and with room for 7 adults and a standard spec including alloy wheels, air conditioning, electronic traction control, and park distance control, it can be yours with one of our Land Rover Discovery contract hire options.
The result is an even more compelling multi-purpose proposition.
There’s still something very special about a place behind the wheel of a Discovery, the characteristically high driving position giving you a great view out over the vast square bonnet. In contrast to more car-like rivals, it’s not a cockpit-like experience with all the controls angled towards you as they would be in, say a Range Rover Sport. This is different - a place of command.
You’d have to be quite a Land Rover enthusiast to spot the visual changes that differentiate this updated Discovery from the original version of the fourth generation model. The Discovery has its own timeless roadway presence, so the huge slab-like bonnet, the stepped roof and the wrap effect that characterises the rear side windows – all these things are present and correct.
For the first time in this model’s history, the spaced-out lettering here no longer says ‘LANDROVER’ but ‘DISCOVERY’. Discovery, it seems, is to become a Land Rover sub-brand, just as Range Rover is. This car has received a few well chosen visual tweaks to keep it looking fresh. So there are smarter headlamps, a glossier radiator grille and foglight surrounds, restyled bumpers and more rounded door mirrors.
When in the design’s progression from second to third generation status, 17. 6cms were added to the body length. This turned it from a cramped five-seater with two occasional extra berths to a proper seven-seat SUV unrivalled in its segment for space and comfort.
And at the wheel? Well how far you climb up into the commanding seat will depend on whether you’ve set the air suspension in its easy access mode which lowers the car by 50mm to make getting in a touch easier. Once you’re in, you’ll find a cabin that’s a bit like the outside, less sporty and sophisticated and more durable and commanding. The infotainment touchscreen that on all but base-trimmed models dominates the centre of the dash is a little cluttered and complicated to use until you get used to it. Having said all that, the cabin quality is certainly nicer than it used to be with stitched leather and soft-touch plastics much in evidence. And there are lovely touches like the rotary chromed gear lever that rises elegantly out of the fascia on start-up, just in front of the Terrain Response panel that takes pride of place at the base of the centre console.
The cargo bay is accessed via a neat asymmetrically-split two-piece aluminium tailgate, so in true Range Rover style, you can use it as a picnic seat or a viewing platform, plus there’s the added advantage that you need only raise the top part if you’re putting in small items. If you’re accessing the whole luggage area, there’s 280-litres if all three seating rows are in place, 1192-litres if the third row seats are folded and a class-leading 2,558-litres if both second and third rows are flat.
There’s a clever, classless feel about the Discovery that nothing else can quite replicate, with the sheer depth of capability that’s constantly tempting you into finding reasons to test it – to enjoy what it can do. A uniquely capable car of its kind and a British success story that we should be proud of.