If you were expecting the new Discovery to be more country mouse than city mouse, this latest installment in the Disco lineage will probably disappoint. Released to the world just today, the Discovery continues down the path forged by the Range Rover, Range Rover Evoque, and new Discovery Sport, which is to say these new coaches are decidedly refined and brimming with creature comforts and technical features.
The new Discovery, once North America’s only option for a capable Rover in the absence of the Defender, is now the more approachable replacement for the luxurious Range Rover. It is considerable change of course for the platform. Before some of you chime in with that old chestnut that Tata is ruining the brand, keep in mind, Land Rover sales are jamming. With their focus set on the upmarket luxury SUV buyer, they can barely meet demand. And if it helps calm your nervous twitch, we are still expecting the new Defender to land on our shores when it is ready to do so.
At first blush, the new Discovery not only looks nothing like any previous Disco model, it looks considerably smaller. It is lower by just under two inches, but it is also longer by over 5 inches. With the wheels pushed deep into the opposing ends, that will undoubtedly make for sublime road manners. (Edit from initial posting: As it was pointed out to me, the break over angle is actually quite impressive. Only 1 degree less than the Range Rover.) Wheel choices are also road biased and start at 19-inches with 22-inch wagon wheels an option. Speaking of options…
Knowing that the Discovery in the first iterations was extremely popular in North America, we will get to pick from four trim levels starting at $49,900 for the SE and topping out at just under $74,000 for the top First Edition. The good news, maybe the best, is that Land Rover will package some Discos with a 254hp Td6 diesel, the same under the hood of the Range Rover Sport. All models will be paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Suspension systems will either utilize coils or airbags depending on the trim level and selected options.
As the Land Rover and Jaguar empires get more crafty with their aluminum Premium Lightweight Architecture (PLA), which really is impressive, they are able to shed hundreds of pounds from their vehicles. The new Discovery is a full 1,000 pounds lighter than the LR4 but still retains a burly towing capacity of over 8,000 pounds.
The off-road enthusiasts we are, it’s easy to lament all that the new Discovery is not. It isn’t built on a ladder frame. It will look positively absurd with a snorkel and I don’t foresee fitting one with a bull bar and not having it look like a beauty queen with buck teeth, but it does have some redeeming qualities. It gained 1.7-inches of ground clearance over the LR4 putting it at 11.1-inches and the water fording height went up by nearly 8 full inches to 35.4-inches. It’s also fitted with Rover’s Terrain Response 2 traction control system which I tested on the 2016 Range Rover, and admit it works flawlessly, impressing many legendary 4×4 traditionalists.
All that said, let’s not lose sight of what this vehicle is. The Discovery may not be a tuxedo, but it sure isn’t a set of work overalls, either. This is an upscale urban carrier with Rover’s 4×4 DNA woven into its very being. Judging by the other Rovers in the new stable, it will do just fine off the tarmac, but this isn’t your go-to for a romp across the Rubicon. With a 10-inch infotainment system, elegantly appointed leather and wood interior accents, two massive glass panels on the roof, and little fancy-fiers like a bracelet that doubles as a wireless key and seats that can be adjusted with a phone app, this is not the spawn of the Camel Trophy.
There is much more to tell about the new Discovery, but we’ll save that for the day when we get to slip behind the wheel and use one in anger. Until then, the video Rover produced says a great deal about the design mission of the Disco.