Land Rover Discovery 5: Who needs roads
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Monday-morning muck provided the stage to launch the fifth generation Land Rover Discovery to the New Zealand market.
Land Rover gave journalists a taste of the off-road talents of the new Discovery this week against the spectacular coastal backdrop of the Boomrock property near Wellington.
The terrain provided the chance to press the button that locks the Discovery 5 transmission into low-range and to explore its hill descent control, axle articulation, stability on sidelings and get its feet wet with a waterhole crossing.
It was a structured programme -- and surprisingly tame by the standards of past Land Rover press events -- that barely scratched the surface of the Discovery's off-road capability.
Discovery occupants are cushioned from the ruts and bumps while the electronics maintain traction and speed is modulated by the All Terrain Progress Control crawl speed cruise control. Driver input becomes a simple task of steering a sensible course and letting the technology do the work.
It might have been an entry-level driving experience by Land Rover standards but it was still a more revealing off-road taster than many brands use to debut a new 4x4 SUV.
Interestingly -- considering that the design target of this Discovery is to make it as capable as a Defender in the rough stuff and as sophisticated as a Range Rover on the highway -- the entire programme was devoted to off-roading.
The unanswered question after Monday in the muck is what the new Discovery feels like on the road?
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The design of the new Discovery sets a new direction after four previous generations. First impressions are this may be a less rugged Discovery because the upright styling has gone and is replaced by a sleeker silhouette retaining just the merest hint of the Discovery's step-roofline design signature.
The frontal design becomes more closely aligned to a Range Rover visual but at the rear the number plate retains its offset positioning even though the split level rear glass hasn't carried over. The stance of the Discovery changes noticeably depending on the suspension height setting and the choice of wheels.
The new Discovery stands 36mm lower and is 141mm longer overall than its predecessor with a 38mm increase in wheelbase while having the same width. There's increased cabin space with the third-row seats capable of accommodating a 95th per centile adult.
Fold the second and third row seats and there is 2500 litres of load space and Land Rover says there is 44.9 litres of interior storage space within door bins and hidden compartments. Tallying up 12-volt and USB outlets there are 13 charging points in the Discovery.
For the New Zealand market the focus is on the upscale V6 petrol and diesel models.
The entry-level Discovery SE version starts at $114,900 while the more lavishly appointed HSE -- expected to contribute the majority of sales -- is $126,900. The flagship HSE Luxury starts from $136,900 and there's plenty of scope beyond that for optioning the Discovery.
Price tags are identical for the 190kW 3.0-litre TdV6 diesel engine and for the 250kW 3.0-litre supercharged V6 petrol, which is badged Si6. The diesel, more powerful than the previous SdV6 model, delivers the same 600Nm of torque from 1750-2250rpm.
In other markets the line-up includes four-cylinder Discovery models powered by the 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel engine in Td4 132kW/430Nm and twin turbo Sd4 177kW/500Nm versions. The four-cylinder is still under evaluation for our market but would give Land Rover the opportunity to position a Discovery model below $100K again.
The seven-seater configuration, lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking, front and rear park sensors, reversing camera and alarm are standard.
For the NZ market the SE model has 19-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation, heated front seats, 8.0-inch InControl touchscreen, a powered upper tailgate, 12-way power adjustable front seats and dual-zone climate control.
The $12,000 step up to HSE specification adds 20-inch alloy wheels, Navigation Pro, a surround camera, three-zone climate control, automatic high beam headlights, the 10.2-inch InControl touchscreen, heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, powered lower tailgate, 380-watt Meridian audio system and natural shadow oak wood veneer finish.
The top tier HSE Luxury adds a different style of 20-inch alloy wheels, climate front seats, 16-way adjustable front seats in Windsor leather with extended leather cabin detailing, a digital TV tuner, a dual panorama sunroof, Meridian 925-watt audio system, gesture controlled tailgate, premium carpets and winged front seat headrests.
There are also active locking rear differential and tyre pressure monitoring options.
Buyers can also choose from a Black Design Pack with 20, 21 and 22-inch wheel options and a Dynamic Design Pack with 21- or 22-inch alloy wheels and a unique bumper design.
The Discovery is an important model in a brand portfolio that also includes Range Rover Evoque, the Range Rover Sport and Range Rover plus the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Range Rover Velar set to launch in New Zealand this year.
New Discovery sales are targeted to run at 250-300 units a year and contribute about 20 per cent of "green oval" New Zealand sales.
2017 Land Rover Discovery line up
3.0 TdV6 SE, $114,900
3.0 Si6 SE, $114,900
3.0 TdV6 HSE, $126,900
3.0 Si6 HSE, $126,900
3.0 TdV6 HSE Luxury, $136,900
3.0 Si6 HSE Luxury, $136,900