Discovering the Discovery
“In my fantasy garage, there stands a Range Rover, alongside a Mercedes 190 Cosworth 2.3 16v, and a Porsche 911…” Then, what comes around the corner is not a Range Rover, but a deep-blue Land Rover Discovery
I’ve just picked up my wheels for a couple of days, a Land Rover Discovery, and my first thought is it’s big, really big.The shape of this new Discovery is not as boxy as previous versions, and there’s a necessary running board along the side to help people climb in. The inside is a mix of sumptuous leather and buttons for the range of toys on the central console. Getting used to the controls takes less than a minute, getting used to the size may take a little longer.
A WIELDY BEAST
As the engine purrs to life thanks to a keyless push button start, it’s clear that this is a diesel. A such, I’m thinking it’s not going to be particularly quick and will likely need a heavy right foot. Pulling onto Kyiv’s Ring Road is never an easy thing to do thanks to a combination of heavy traffic and poor drivers (many of whom must have got licenses out of a candy box), which means extra care is needed, particularly when driving a car that costs a shade over 80 000 USD. Interestingly, when I spot my gap and give it a firm push on the accelerator pedal, it takes off like a scolded cat. I’m not leaving elevenses on the tarmac, because this thing grips like a race car, but I am leaving any preconceived notions of diesel engines in my wake.
As I settle into the drive and start to relax, I’m struck by how much the Discovery has evolved. It was always a mid-point option: as tough as the Land Rover Defender but with many of the refinements of the luxurious Range Rover. While still as tough as the Defender, it is no longer the case that it contains “many” of the refinements of the Range Rover: it basically has all of them. Which means this vehicle isn’t a compromise, it’s a luxury, borrowing the full range of bells and whistles from its sister vehicle.
Seeing the road open up, it’s time to once again feel the power; but this time intentionally and in full expectation of the grunt the 3.0 litre turbo diesel is going to give. The rush doesn’t disappoint and I catch up to the traffic in front far too quickly, and the brakes are an appropriate strength, in relation to the engine wink.
MAN MELDS WITH MACHINE
As I arrive home, I’m faced with the challenge of threading this beast through narrow arches and between parked cars to find my own parking space; a dauting feat in a car this size. Or, merely at first. The gear selector is a wheel: flicking it between R and D takes some getting used to. But then assistance devices unfold before my eyes. Cameras show where we are, sensors beep when we (yes, the car and I are now one) get too close to something, the wing mirrors automatically dip to give us the most helpful view, and after a short back and forth, the engine is given a rest.
Once parked up I get into the back of the car to check out the passenger’s accommodations. The back seat isn’t the “back” seat, because this car actually contains three rows of seats, ideal for a larger family. The seats that would normally be the last line are set out in a formation for two, with plenty of leg room and a drinks holder, which could double as a card table on longer journeys.
As I try to figure out how to access the last line of seats, I find a couple of buttons just inside the real door, and, of course, I push them. They say the only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys, and what a toy this turns out to be. By pushing these buttons electric motors whir the middle row of seats, as the headrest of the back row of seats flops down like a nodding donkey. This is followed by movement of the next row, and as if by magic, the rear row of seats are stowed completely into the floor of what is now a traditional boot space. Guess how many times I had to test this operation…
By the time it had to leave the disco, I was sad. I’d got used to the location of the gear selector so that it felt totally natural, and maneuvering in tight spaces didn’t daunt me a bit. Not to mention the gas pedal. Maybe, just maybe, she and I will get to dance again one day.
Land Rover Discovery 3.0 TD Auto SE
Stuff for the Boys
- Top Speed, 130 MPH
- 0-60, ha ha, lots of fun
- THE BUTTONS
Pros for the Girls
- Those three rows of seats – great for a big family
- All of the parking aids