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Land Rover Discovery 3 TD6 2.7 Review
The Land Rover Discovery 3 – you’ll love or hate this mammoth of a 4×4 tow car. I know where my affection is…
I have long been a Land Rover fan despite some of the issues surrounding these vehicles. I’ve owned a series of Land Rover Defenders which are truly the workhorse of the 4×4 world and many years ago I briefly owned a Land Rover Discovery as I fancied a bit of luxury. This experience took me away from Land Rover Discoveries, I thought, forever. It was one of the worst cars I have ever owned, it was leaking, rolling all over the road and rusting at an alarming rate. Despite that, you could see the potential in this vehicle if only Land Rover could have built them properly and applied a modicum of quality control. I sold the Land Rover Discovery after nine months of ownership after a mind blowing accident trip one night with my eldest son.
The last of the Land Rover Discovery Series 2 models had significant upgrades with added roll stability and the benefits of the TD5 engine, however, under the skin was the old Disco and there was no escaping the problems which the latest models had inherited. Soon there was the launch of the Land Rover Discovery 3 to rave reviews from the motoring press and numerous awards. The shape was bold and aggressive and the new Discovery looked like a whole powerful off-road 4×4. What was different this time around was that Land Rover had created a vehicle that was unbeatable off-road, but packed with plenty of on-road refinements. I was seriously tempted by this new Leviathan and despite my better judgment, I took the plunge again into Land Rover ownership. I needed a vehicle that would easily tow a 1.7 tonne twin axle caravan and could move me through the depths of a northern Scottish winter. After studying 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 totally different vehicle doesn’t do the Discovery 3 justice. It really is a car redesigned from the ground up, but it’s basically a Land Rover and that’s not a bad thing. . Like I said, you love or hate this car, there seems to be none of them. From the front, it’s all Arnie Schwarzenegger, brutal and imposing with a rather Germanic posture. From the side, it looks like a van! It is undeniably very slab but strangely aesthetic in its simplicity. The rear of the vehicle is practical and pleasant, with a separate upper and lower door à la Range Rover. The old Disco had very limited trunk space, but now that has totally changed and the trunk is spacious and useful. It also hides two extra seats on all but the economy model. This makes the Land Rover Discovery 3 a true seven-seater and the seats are not just for children, as access is ideal for adults and children alike. The whole seating arrangement is very comfortable and Land Rover has given the Disco ‘stadium seating’, meaning each row of rear seats is slightly higher than the front. This gives rear-seat drivers an unobstructed view of the road and must be good for car-sickness-prone children (not that you’d let them into your new baby!). The controls are fine, but the fascia etc. still looks like a worker. Whether it was deliberate or not, I don’t know; maybe Land Rover didn’t want their “soft-roader” to be too soft – remember those looks from Arnie.
So the car looks great, has a lot of new practical features, but how does it perform compared to previous editions? It’s a big car. When I say big, I mean BIG. It’s pretty intimidating up close and you’d think a car of this size and weight (2.7 tons of Arnie muscle) would be a brute to drive. Well, I’m happy to report that the Discovery 3 is an absolute delight on all of Britain’s wonderful roads. Once in the driver’s seat, the overall vastness of this car isn’t obvious. The Disco handles with elegant ease and has none of the harrowing road-rolling characteristics of its predecessors. The ride is firm but has a big luxury car feel, unhurried and stately. It’s not a sports car and never will be. The diesel version looks like a tractor from the outside, but once inside the spacious and airy cabin, there’s almost nothing to suggest it’s a diesel. The soundproofing is simply stunning and paired with the six-speed automatic gearbox, progression is a pleasure. The car can switch to manual mode but I only found it useful when overtaking, with the “sport” mode. Around town the width of the car has to be taken into account and I sometimes used the power folding mirrors as a preemptive strike along narrow Devon and Dorset lanes. Parking is made easy by front and rear sensors and the mirrors can be set to automatically tilt in reverse to help you find the curb.
For towing, I really couldn’t find anything wrong with this car. The Land Rover TD V6’s torque is more than adequate and, combined with the weight of the vehicle, towing even the largest trailer is a walk in the park. I have to remind myself occasionally that the caravan is always behind me and overtaking other teams on long inclines is as close to macho as it gets! The weight limit on the nose of 150kg is ideal when the wife and children are starting to pack the caravan and I have never had any stability issues. I installed the Land Rover detachable tow bar which is quite low. This can cause unhitching problems on bumpy ground when you cannot retract the jockey wheel enough. This is easily remedied by using the air suspension and a quick flick of the switch raises the car to off-road height and hitching and unhitching becomes a breeze. All electrical towing devices are concealed behind a removable panel when not in use and are supplied as standard by Land Rover. For braked trailers the maximum permissible towing weight is 3500kg, so no caravan is really going to phase this vehicle.
Economy. I knew you were going to ask me. Let’s just say it’s not the most fuel-efficient vehicle on the road. It’s also not the worst by far. Okay, you want numbers, well around town, don’t expect more than 28 mpg. On a highway I saw 34 mpg and towing 1700 kg caravan with probably a similar amount in the car (!) I get around 21 mpg. Now those numbers may put you off, but remember this car weighs 2.7 tons and 45 mpg will never happen, even with a following wind. Once you drive this car, you won’t worry about economy. Plant a tree every 1000 miles, buy nothing from China, and turn off your computer when you read this, and you’ll be as carbon neutral as the Mayor of London. Don’t move to Richmond either unless you’re loaded.
The Discovery 3 has renewed my confidence in Land Rover and every time I drive this car it brings a smile to my face. I haven’t even been seriously off-roading with it, as it’s still pretty bright, but those who have are full members of the perma-grin club. It had its problems starting, mainly because this computer-controlled car is so complicated, but I didn’t experience many of the horror stories that floated around about a year or two ago. Either way, this has always been a hallmark of Land Rover owners! As long as eco warriors allow us to keep this vehicle on and off the road, I will be a huge fan of what is Solihull’s best product yet.
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