Offset registration plate is a link to the old model

Offset registration plate is a link to the old model

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Even though the Discovery hasn't long been on sale, Land Rover is adding more derivatives at either end of what is already a comprehensive line-up. 

Considering that prices rose and that the range has lacked a four-cylinder petrol engine, Land Rover's achievement in having sold 18,500 units of the new Discovery during its first three months on the international market is a strong one. The new shape L462 series model has been available since April and that number for worldwide deliveries is as at the end of July.

Looking at UK registrations for the first half of 2017, which include the old model, there were 6,664 units of the Discovery nameplate delivered versus 5,817 for H1 of 2016. Giving that some further perspective and showing just how in love the British are with big SUVs, this is not that far behind the Mondeo (7,183, down 35% YoY) and is in fact ahead of the Peugeot 308 (6,587).

Updated for 2018

The brand was fairly quiet in the run up to the Frankfurt motor show, leaving it until the first press day to announce a revised line-up that sees JLR's 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine added, plus a preview of the high performance SVX which will arrive in 2018. The second of these is powered by a 525PS version of the firm's well known supercharged 5.0-litre V8. The SVX will be hand-assembled at Special Vehicle Operations.

Set to sell in much higher volumes is the 300hp four-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine. This is the same unit which was recently added to various other JLR vehicles for the 2018 model year, including the Jaguar F-TYPE. In the Discovery, its torque output is 400Nm and CO2 emissions are 222g/km.

Other updates for 2018 include a 12.3-inch Interactive Driver Display TFT (Thin Film Transistor) instrument cluster, which in the UK will be standard on HSE and HSE Luxury trim levels. This high-resolution panel gives a 3D effect, plus the driver is able to personalise the display to their preferences. Base variants come with Touch Pro infotainment with a 10-inch touchscreen. Another addition is 4G WiFi on SE and above, with up to eight mobile devices able to be connected to it.

What Land Rover calls a 'second-generation' head-up display is a new option. Now, there are multiple colours and wider functionality. For example, information regarding the 4x4 system as well as well enhanced navigation displays can appear on the windscreen. One other new option is Cabin Air Ionisation, which is claimed to deliver improved interior air quality.

The Discovery is doing especially well in the UK, even with the market down during recent months. Given how long the old shape L319 model was in production - 13 years - there will have been a fair bit of pent-up demand, and many buyers will likely be either returning to Land Rover or enticed by the distinctive appearance of L462.

Big changes at the back

I wasn't sure about the new Discovery's rear end for a while, but now there more and more of them are appearing on our roads, it's growing on me. The problem has been the offset number plate surround being no longer matched by a similarly shaped curve in the tailgate glass. Instead, the wiper is now hidden, Range Rover like, under a wing at the rear of the roof rather than being made a feature of the glass' shape. And is just me or does the new model look narrow, even though we know it's not?

A related change is a tailgate which is no longer split. It is still top-hinged but where the previous model had a fold-down lower half, in the new Discovery there is instead a horizontal panel which slides out to rest objects on. This will also move into a vertical position and act as a load divider. Land Rover says it can take up to 300kg or three average sized adults who might want to use for a seat at outdoor events.

Seeing the old and new models side by side the latest one definitely has its own distinctive style and L319 is fairly dated in places, yet it's a testament to the design of the 2004-2017 shape model that it looks as contemporary as it somehow still does.

How big? How heavy?

L462 weighs up to 480kg less than L319 version-for-version, which goes to show just how heavy (2.5 tonnes) the former steel frame platform was. New Discovery uses D7u, a version of JLR's Premium Lightweight Architecture. This has been adapted from what we already know underpins the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. The next Defender should also share much with these models under its aluminium body panels.

The Discovery has the same 2,922mm wheelbase as the Range Rover but unlike that model, there are (up to) seven seats. In some countries, five seats are standard with seven optional. As was the case with L319, these are staggered so that those in the second and third rows have a good view ahead. Measuring 4,970mm from end to end, the new generation of this big 4x4 is 140mm longer than the 2004-2017 shape model and 40mm lower.

Powertrains

Engines at the market launch in March were as follows:

  • 180PS Td4 and 240PS Sd4 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ingenium diesel biturbo
  • 258PS Td6 3.0-litre V6 diesel biturbo supplied by Ford
  • 340PS Si6 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol supplied by Ford

Land Rover hasn't said when the new 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol will be added, but this will likely happen within the coming months, to be followed by the 525PS supercharged V8 later in 2018. All are linked to a ZF eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

JLR stated a few days ago that it will offer every one of its vehicles with some form of electrified powertrain from 2020 onwards. This could mean mild hybrid, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric power, but the rumours are that a PHEV Discovery is under development as a rival for the Volvo XC90 Twin Engine.

Manufacturing

As well as being made in Solihull, the L462 Discovery will be the first vehicle to be built at JLR's Nitra plant, once that factory comes on stream in 2019. Some also believe that the L663 Defender will also be built in low-cost Slovakia but JLR has made no statement about this one way or the other.

Living with a Discovery

The version I spent some days with was a seven-seater Td6 HSE Luxury. One of the most novel things about it was the electrically powered rear seats, or rather how they can be controlled. You can do this from either the touchscreen, buttons in the boot or even via your phone. They move relatively slowly but the great news is that both rows fold perfectly flat.

The boot might be a bit too small for some with the third row raised but there's no doubting its capacity when in five-seater form. That means up to 2,500 litres of load capacity, or up to 1,231 litres behind row two.

The torque of the 258PS 3.0-litre V6 is a thumping 600Nm and this is delivered at only 1,750Nm. Even with its weight of 2,230kg, this almost 5m long SUV charges to 60mph in 7.7 seconds (call it 8 seconds for 0-100km/h) and top speed is 130mph. Overall consumption was 35.6mpg and this is a bit better than what Land Rover quotes for the Urban cycle. CO2 for the Td6 is 189g/km.

Even though it looks huge to some, the 4,970mm long Discovery isn't really that big. Certainly not compared to a Mercedes GLS-Class or even a Ford Ranger, both or which are far longer. So parking is easy and the views are good, even without watching via the touchscreen in tight spaces. As a potential family car it offers lot, though like most other Land Rovers, it isn't cheap. The test vehicle was priced at GBP64,195.