As we saw last week, the curvy, rounded styling of the new Land Rover Discovery can be quite deceptive, as it is in no way less rugged or off-road ready than the boxy LR4 it has replaced. And the move to a monocoque structure from a ladder frame chassis has done a lot of good to the Discovery’s driving dynamics. Up to 85 per cent of the body is made of aluminium, making it nearly half a tonne lighter than its predecessor. But at 2,200kg, it’s no lightweight either.
But this heft, along with the front double wishbone and rear multi-link suspension, contributes to the Discovery’s reassuringly poised ride on the road. The 3.0-litre supercharged V6, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that can also be controlled via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, makes 340bhp and 450Nm of torque, which is good for a 0-100kph dash in less than 7.0 seconds. It also has enough room to accommodate seven passengers, with even the third-row seats being good for two adults. And if you don’t have those many passengers to carry, Land Rover has given you three options to control these seats electronically; via buttons in the boot, near the rear doors or via the touchscreen on the dashboard. The seats are a bit slow to fold down electrically, but once they do, they leave 2,500 litres of cargo space behind them. Apart from this, there are several stowage bins and cubby holes around the cabin for added practicality.
But one drawback we noticed, especially when driving the Discovery off after leaving it parked in the sun for long, is the time it takes to cool the rear cabin. The second row has its own separate climate control knobs, but the vertical air vents are placed inside the B-pillars on either side, which, as almost all our rear seat passengers have pointed out, isn’t very effective. But they do a good job if you start from a covered parking lot or earlier or later in the day.