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Land Rover Discovery 3 TD6 2.7 Review
Land Rover Discovery 3 – you will love or hate this mammoth 4×4 car. I know where my love is….
I have long been a fan of Land Rover despite some issues surrounding the vehicle. I have owned a series of Land Rover Defenders which are really the workhorse of the 4×4 world and many years ago, I briefly owned a Land Rover Discovery as I fancied a little luxury. That experience cemented Land Rover Discoveries, I thought, forever. It’s one of the worst cars I’ve ever owned, it leaks, it rolls all over the road and it’s rusty at an alarming rate. Despite that, you can see the potential in this vehicle if only Land Rover could build it right and apply quality control. I sold the Land Rover Discovery after nine months of ownership after a hair-raising journey one evening with my eldest son.
The end of the Land Rover Discovery Series 2 model has significant improvements with extra rolling stability and the advantages of the TD5 engine, however, in the skin there is an old Disco and there is no escape from the problems that later models have inherited. Not long after, the Land Rover Discovery 3 was launched with rave reviews from the motoring press and many awards. The shape is bold and aggressive and the new Discovery looks every ounce a strong 4×4 off-roader. What’s different this time is that Land Rover has built a vehicle that can’t be beat on the road but has lots and lots of improvements on the road. I was very tempted by this new leviathan and despite the better decision took the plunge into Land Rover ownership once again. I needed a vehicle that would easily tow a 1.7 ton twin axle caravan and could get me around in the depths of the Northern Scottish winter. After surveying the competition: Mercedes M Class, BMW X5 and VW Toureg, I bought a new silver Land Rover Discovery SE TD6 2.7 diesel.
To say it’s a completely different vehicle doesn’t do the Discovery 3 justice. It’s really a car re-engineered from top to bottom but at its core it’s still a Land Rover and that’s not a bad thing. As I said, you either love or hate this car, there seems to be no in between. From the front it’s all Arnie Schwarzenegger, brutal and imposing with a Germanic attitude. From the side it looks like a van! There is no avoiding the fact that the place is very inserted but very aesthetic in its plainess. The back of the vehicle is practical and pleasant, with a split top and bottom door a la Range Rover. The old disk had limited boot space, but now that has changed and the boot is spacious and useful. It also hides two extra seats in all but the budget models. This makes the Land Rover Discovery 3 a true seven-seater and the seats are not just for children because there is good access for both adults and children. The entire seating arrangement is very comfortable and Land Rover has given the Disco “stadium seating” meaning that each back row of seats is slightly higher than the front. This gives the rear seat driver a good view of the road ahead and should be great for children prone to car sickness (not that they would allow it for a new baby!). The controls have quality properties but the fascia and others still have a workmanlike appearance. Whether this was intentional or not, I don’t know; maybe Land Rover doesn’t want a “soft-roader” too soft – remember that Arnie looks.
So, the car looks great, has practical new features but how does it drive compared to the previous edition? This is a big car. When I say big, I mean BIG. It is quite intimidating up close and you would think that a car of its size and weight (2.7 tons of muscle Arnie) would be a brute to drive. Well, I am pleased to report that the Discovery 3 is an absolute pleasure on all the good roads of Britain. Once in the driving seat, the overall width of this car is not easy to see. The Disco handles with an elegant ease and none of the gut-wrenching, road-tripping characteristics of its predecessors. The ride is firm but it has a big, luxurious, unhurried and majestic car. It is not a sports car and never will be. The diesel version sounds like a tractor from the outside, but inside the spacious and airy cabin, there’s no telling that it’s a diesel. Sound proofing is nothing short of amazing and combined with the six-speed automatic gearbox, progress is a pleasure. Automatic can be switched to manual mode but I have only found use when overtaking, together with “sport” mode. In town, the width of the car has to be considered and I often use the power folding mirrors as a pre-emptive strike along the narrow roads of Devon and Dorset. Parking is assisted by front and rear sensors and the mirrors can be made to automatically reverse to help you find the kerb.
For towing I really can’t find fault with this car. The torque of the Land Rover TD V6 is more than enough and combined with the weight of the vehicle makes towing even the largest trailer a walk in the park. I have to remind myself that the caravan is still behind me, and overtake the other outfit on the long incline very close to the macho! The 150kg nose weight limit was great when the wife and kids started packing the caravan and I never had any stability issues. I have a Land Rover tow bar installed which is quite low. This can cause unhitching problems on bumpy ground when you can’t retract the jockey wheel far enough. This is easily solved using the air suspension and a quick blip of the switch raises the car to an off-road height and hitching and unhitching becomes a breeze. All the towing electrics are hidden in a panel that can be removed when not in use and is standard from Land Rover. For a braked trailer, the maximum permissible towing weight is 3500kg, so no caravan will tow this vehicle.
economy. I know you want to ask me. Let’s just say this isn’t the most fuel-efficient vehicle on the road. It’s not the worst by a long shot either. Okay, you want figures, well around town don’t expect more than 28mpg. On the motorway I have seen 34mpg and towing 1700kg of caravan with probably the same amount in the car (!) I get about 21mpg. Now the numbers might sway you, but remember this car weighs 2.7 tonnes and 45mpg won’t happen even in the wind. After driving this car, you will not have to worry about the economy. Plant a tree every 1000 miles, buy nothing from China and turn off your computer while you read this, and you’ll be carbon neutral as Mayor of London. Don’t go to Richmond unless you’re loaded.
Discovery 3 has renewed my faith in Land Rover and every time I drive this car it puts a grin on my face. I have not even had a lot of off-road with it is still quite shiny but that is a fully paid member of the perma-grin club. It has its teething problems, mainly because the computer control car is so bloomin’ complicated but I haven’t found many horror stories that were floating about a year or two ago. Anyway, that’s definitely in Land Rover’s proprietary feature! As long as the eco warriors allow us to keep this vehicle off the road, I will be a true fan of Solihull’s best product to date.
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