Lighter and breezier

The new Land Rover Discovery is a cross between the luxurious Range Rover and the utilitarian Defender.
The new Land Rover Discovery is a cross between the luxurious Range Rover and the utilitarian Defender.PHOTO: JAGUAR LAND ROVER

Land Rover's new Discovery sheds 480kg and will be available with 2-litre engines

The new Land Rover Discovery is not to be confused with the Discovery Sport, which was a successor to the smaller Freelander.

The Discovery - or Disco as it is affectionately called - still sits between the luxurious Range Rover and the utilitarian "farmer's favourite" Defender. The latest Disco was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in September last year.

In Utah's Mars-like landscape, Land Rover hopes to demonstrate the car's class-leading all-terrain 4x4 capability.

The new sport utility vehicle is about 480kg lighter than the last boxy version, thanks to an aluminium monocoque body. At just below 2.2 tonnes, it is considered lightweight for a Land Rover.

As a result of this, a relatively small 2-litre diesel engine is offered for the first time. The 1,999cc Ingenium aluminium SD-4 turbodiesel produces either 240bhp or 180bhp. The former version has 500Nm of torque from 1,500rpm and outperforms the last generation Discovery V6 diesel.

The new Disco is also available with a 3-litre 340bhp V6 petrol engine and a 3-litre 258bhp turbodiesel. All four engine variants are mated to a seamless ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox.

  • SPECS / LAND ROVER DISCOVERY

  • Price: To be announced

    Engine: 2,995cc 24-valve V6 supercharged; 2,993cc 24-valve V6 turbodiesel

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual override

    Power: 340bhp at 6,500rpm; 258bhp at 3,750rpm

    Torque: 450Nm at 3,500-5,000rpm; 600Nm at 1,750-2,250rpm

    0-100kmh: 7.1; 8.1 seconds

    Top speed: 215kmh; 208kmh

    Fuel consumption: 10.9; 7.2 litres per 100km

    Agent: Wearnes Automotive

The petrol engine generates 450Nm of torque at 3,500rpm, enough to see off the 2,148kg seven-seater to 100kmh in an astounding 7.1 seconds. The diesel, weighing 75kg more, does it in a respectable 8.1 seconds.

The latter is noticeably slower when kicking down to overtake traffic. This could be because of its very narrow band of maximum torque - from 1,750 to 2,250rpm.

Another minus in the diesel's scorecard is less steering feedback compared with the petrol version. This could be because of its taller 255/55 R20 tyres (the petrol runs on lower profile 276/45 R21's).

The diesel, however, provides a sweeter aural experience, at least from the cabin, where the melodious V6 can be heard under acceleration. Just do not lower your windows or else the classic diesel chatter becomes audible.

At cruising speeds in both cars, the solidly built cabin with quality materials is silent. Jaguar Land Rover wanted the articulation index (a measure of hearing a speech in a given environment) to be on a par with the Range Rover's.

It is also a highly practicalSUV. Not only can it seat seven adults comfortably, there is also space for four iPads in the central console, complete with a charging point.

No one complains of having too many USB chargers and there are nine USB charging points in the car. There are six 12-volt outlets throughout the cabin and there is 3G Wi-Fi, which connects up to eight devices.

The second and third-row seats can be adjusted via a touchscreen in front, electric buttons in the cabin and a unique InControl smartphone app. The app may come in especially useful, say, when you are at the Ikea check-out: tap on it to fold down the second- and third-row seats ahead of time, so it is easier to load the boxes.

The tailgate is no longer a two-piece affair, but a single large slab - the biggest the company has ever made. The boot area stows a full-size spare wheel.

The new Discovery will arrive in Singapore in late July or early August. It should appeal to those who have always lusted after a Range Rover, but who were not willing to part with a king's ransom for one.

• The writer contributes to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2017, with the headline 'Lighter and breezier'. Print Edition | Subscribe