It's the time to Disco!

Its the time to Disco!

The new and dramatically restyled 2018 Land Rover Discovery HSE adds another page to the brand's illustrious heritage

By George Kuruvilla

Published: Fri 12 Jan 2018, 4:02 PM

If you're looking for off-road prowess, Land Rover is one of the first names that will pop up. The British automaker, now Indian-owned, has been around since the 1940s and produced some of the most capable SUVs - like the Defender. Let's not ignore the mid-size Discovery either, often referred to as Disco. It was introduced in 1989 and, since then, we've seen four generations of the vehicle. Then, on the eve of the 2016 Paris Motor Show, they revealed the fifth-generation Discovery. It surprised the world with its unusual-to-the-brand exterior design and new-age technologies. After much anticipation, we finally got our hands on the top-spec HSE Luxury trim. Here's the good, bad and ugly about the SUV that can cost a hefty Dh300k.
The fifth-generation Discovery is a bigger vehicle in every physical dimension; it also exhibits its biggest departure from its predecessors in terms of styling. Like the Range Rover siblings, the Discovery has abandoned its boxy exteriors for a new shape that welcomes fluidity and aerodynamics.
Up front, the two-bar, intricately-designed grille has been retained (albeit it is smaller). The biggest change, besides its slanting snout, is the slim wrap-around headlamps that replace the square lights. Most trims get those powerful LED headlamps that not only shine brighter but also add visual character. The wheel arches that previously had a deliberate bulge now have been seamlessly merged with the rest of the body; to fill them, you can get sporty alloys with sizes ranging from 19-inches to 22-inches in a variety of finishes. At the rear, they have replaced vertical tail lamps with new units that are slim and have a horizontal orientation. But they have managed to keep some signatures - like the body-colour C-pillar, stepped roof and asymmetric element on the rear number plate panel.
From a design perspective, the only niggles I had were that lighter colours don't suit it as much and the rear end looks disproportionately tall. Other than that, the new Disco is a handsome new SUV that proposes style, power and luxury in good amounts. You can choose to spruce it up further with the optional Dynamic pack or Black pack.
Once inside, you enjoy the elevated ground clearance and the commanding driving position. The two-tone interior has geometric shapes with horizontal panels on the dash. Rectangular air vents replace the round ones in its predecessor and the centre console gets a bigger 10-inch HD touchscreen display and a lot of piano black surfaces on which the buttons and knobs are placed. The switchgear is legible and reachable too. The seats have grained, soft Windsor leather upholstery with a ribbed panelling, while the rest of the interiors - dashboard and door panels - get brushed aluminium or a host of wood veneers.
Space is aplenty thanks to a commodious 5-seat arrangement that can be upgraded to a 7-seat configuration for those with larger families. The rear seats can slide forward and back, and be reclined - a big plus.
SUVs are no longer slow. This one can get to a 100 km/h in just 7.1 seconds. To put things in perspective, that's almost as fast as a Golf GTI. Helping it achieve this level of performance is a robust supercharged 3.0-litre V8 that puts out 335bhp and 450Nm of torque available from 3,500 to 5,000rpm. It replaces the V8 on the outgoing model. On the go, you'd find no dearth of power. Aiding the supercharged V6 is an 8-speed automatic that allows for better spread of torque that faces little hesitation in gear swaps. and an overall weight reduction of up to 480kg - that's roughly five adults. There is decent feedback from the steering wheel, and body roll has been contained to a great extent. It is also worth mentioning that the Disco maintains a good noise quotient on the inside even at high speeds, and provides a soft and compliant ride quality. These characteristics combined with adaptive cruise control make it a good daily driver.
The benefits of having more gear ratios and being lightweight have also helped it improve its fuel economy. Although LR specifies 10.9L/100km, we got closer to 14 which, still, translates to a range of 800km. Our limited time meant we couldn't prove that number, but if any one of you does, do let us know!
In our short stint, the Discovery floated about the desert oh-so-casually for the most part and ripped through the dunes, sending sand skywards when we needed it to. And although it has an almost crossover-like appeal, it's a good dune basher with commendable approach and departure angles of 29° and 27°, both which can be raised to 34° and 30°, respectively, thanks to air suspension. The Disco has been designed with a wading depth of 900mm which lets you gets across a stream without wetting yourself, quite literally. But its new Terrain Response 2 system is the piece de resistance. It combines with the four-wheel drive system and twin-speed transfer case to provide optimal traction on all sorts of surfaces. It should make easy work of traversing through sand, mud, rut etc. Of course, those 22-inch wheels may not work well in areas with softer sand; the size of the wheel does not allow the tyre to be deflated for a larger contact patch.
The Disco is the king of utility. It has everything from storage options to tech features to satisfy all. The power tailgate can be opened at a press of a button or a kick with your foot under the rear bumper. It lets you access as much as 2,406 litres of load-space with the second and third row folded down. If you have more to haul, you can make use of the 3,500-kg towing capacity that is good enough for pulling a trailer of dirt bikes or a small boat.
You have an optional activity key: a wrist band that lets you leave the actual key within the car and go for your run, swim or trek. The climate control system has up to four zones and has been tested at extreme temperatures: up to -40 and +50°C. It also comes with the convenience of rear vents for better air distribution, required in a mid-size SUV.
From a technological standpoint, you have plenty to revel in. There is 10GB of memory for storing HD movies or around 2,000 songs. Striking a chord with audiophiles is Meridian's 380-watt 10-speaker unit that can be upgraded to 825-watt surround sound system with 14 speakers and a Dual-Channel Subwoofer. As for connectivity, you have Bluetooth, WiFi, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for those who want to remain technologically synced.
There are plenty of safety features to keep you safe and sound as well: Hill Descent Control, Surround View Camera, up to 8 airbags and ISOFIX points to name a few.
The 2018 Land Rover Discovery is amongst the most well-rounded SUVs available today. It takes a hit for not wearing a Range Rover badge, but is almost as stylish, while being just as capable, comfortable and utilitarian as its RR cousins, some costing twice as much. That said, it still isn't cheap and past LR models aren't known for their reliability and resale value. We hope things change with the new Disco.

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