Discovery 5 is alive! Land Rover’s new seven-seat practicality monster unveiled

Published: 29 September 2016

► New look for fifth-gen seven-seat Land Rover Discovery
► Claimed 480kg reduction in weight, new 4-cyl diesel option
► On sale spring 2017; packed with tech, priced from £43,495

When the hardcore engineering announcements only rank third on the opening list of innovations for the new Land Rover Discovery 5, you know the world has changed.

And what, in Land Rover’s own hierarchy, ranks above the engineering improvements for the all-new Disco – which include 480kg weight reduction, 171g/km CO2 emissions, a new 237bhp version of the 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel with 369lb ft, and class-leading 3.5-tonne towing capability? Safety (fair enough), and the fact that you can now configure the seven-seater’s interior with your iPhone.

No, seriously.

Other tech headlines include the option to add up to nine USB ports, four 12-volt charging points and an in-car 3G Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices (apparently 4G was a step too far?), while Land Rover claims each of the seven seats will accommodate most full-size adults.

2017 Land Rover Discovery 5

But all is not lost, for Land Rover also promises the new Discovery will be more comfortable and versatile than ever. Read on for the full story.

Land Rover Discover Sport 5: engines and tech spec

Let’s deal with the nitty-gritty first. The new Discovery is 4970mm long, 2220mm wide (including the mirrors) and 1846mm tall – that’s 141mm longer, but marginally narrower and lower than the vehicle it replaces. The 2923mm wheelbase is 38mm longer than before, to the benefit of passenger room.

The 480kg weight saving comes from a new monocoque body construction that is 83% aluminium (some 43% of which comes from recycled sources). There’s high-strength aluminium for the crash structure, while the entire bodyside – like that of the Jaguar F-Type – is pressed from a single aluminium sheet. This is great for reduced construction complexity and increased structural strength, but may prove interesting from a crash-repair perspective…

2017 Land Rover Discovery 5

Other contributors to the overall reduction include less complex exhaust and driveline systems, ‘more efficient’ seat design and, interestingly, revised wheel and tyre sizes (presumably made possible by everything else). Even so, the Disco 5 still weighs upwards of 2115kg.

Engine choices for the new Discovery are as follows:

  • 2.0-litre SD4 turbodiesel four-cylinder  237bhp, 369lb ft, 8.3sec 0-62mph, 43.5mpg, 171g/km: This is a new engine for the new model, and the most powerful Ingenium diesel to date
  • 3.0-litre Td6 turbodiesel V6  254bhp, 443lb ft, 8.1sec 0-62mph, 39.2mpg, 189g/km: while that’s only a 2bhp improvement over the old Disco Td6, 0-62mph is 1.3sec faster and CO2 emissions are down from 203g/km
  • 3.0-litre Si6 supercharged petrol V6  335bhp, 332lb ft, 7.1sec 0-62mph, 26.0mpg, 256g/km: not likely to be a massive UK seller, but JLR’s supercharged six has plenty of character

All three engines are paired with an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox with ratios so closely spaced the changes are said to be ‘imperceptible’. As with other JLR products, drive selection is via a rotary controller, with paddleshifters on the steering wheel; multiple downshifts are allowed for additional performance.

Will the new Disco still be comfortable – and will it still off-road?

The outgoing Discovery’s ride quality is legend, and Land Rover was keen to keep this asset while improving the driving behaviour. To do this it’s paired ‘wide-spaced’ double wishbone front suspension with an independent integral link rear set-up. We’ll obviously have to wait to judge the results.

2017 Land Rover Discovery 5

The standard air suspension ought to help, providing the ability to reduce ride height by 60mm for easier loading – and raise it 75mm for greater ground clearance. Which brings us to the Disco 5’s off-road credentials.

Regular ground clearance is 283mm, the approach angle is 34 degrees, the departure angle is 30 degrees and break-over is 27.5 degrees. There’s 500mm of wheel articulation, and a 900mm wading depth – that’s 200mm deeper than before.

Boosting the full-time four-wheel-drive system, which has a nominal 50:50 split that varies depending on the conditions, there’s a two-speed transfer box with synchromesh, meaning you can shift between high and low ratios at up to 37mph without stopping the car.

The latest versions of Land Rover’s All Terrain Progress Control and Terrain Response electronics are available, alongside Hill Descent Control, Gradient Release Control (releases the brake slowly when you’re stopped on a hill), Roll Stability Control and Wade Sensing (a kind of automotive sonar, displayed via the infotainment screen).

How does the new Discovery 5 look?

Like a giant Discovery Sport. Mostly. The much-loved two-box design of previous generations has been replaced by a far more rounded appearance that pays only token tribute to the past with its minimally stepped roof and heavily canted rear side pillar.

2017 Land Rover Discovery 5

The roof step still makes extra headroom for the rear-row passengers, however, and as before the Disco deploys ‘stadium’ seating where each row is slightly higher than the one in front.

The full seven-seater claim is backed by stats that suggest it will accommodate 95th percentile adults in even the rear-most row; there are five ISOFIX mounting points on SE trim and above, too, so if you’re expecting quintuplets this could be the premium lifestyle accessory for you.

What was that about smartphone-controlled seats?

Land Rover calls it Intelligent Seat Fold technology. In addition to being able to move the second and third rows around using a dedicated panel at the rear or via the central touchscreen in the front, you can also control them with your smartphone or tablet.

The idea is that you can activate the reconfiguration while you’re still in the shop paying for the bulky item you need to get home. Whether this turns out to be a pointless gimmick or life-changing essential, it’s certainly something for you to show off at the pub.

All three rows of seats are available with heating, incidentally. But only the first and second rows get a cooling option (called Climate seats) as well, while the massaging upgrade is only available for the driver and front passenger.

Presumably the new Discovery is packed with lifestyle?

Most certainly. Consider how Land Rover has chosen to present the 65% increase in cabin storage, for example – the hidden space in the centre console is large enough for four iPads, while the centre armrest can hold five iPad minis (or an optional chiller compartment); it’s clear where the firm thinks its customers’ priorities lie.

2017 Land Rover Discovery 5

Even the curry hook in the passenger footwell has been upgraded – it’s now flush-fitting with a spring-loaded surround that clamps carrier bags in place to avoid spillage. The overall interior design is very clean, but also clearly Land Rover; there’s a reduced button count, but the major controls remains easily accessible. There’s no touchscreen climate controls here, rather straightforward dials complete with inset temperature displays, as per F-Type and Range Rover.

The fixed panoramic roof is the largest Land Rover has ever fitted, Hi-Fi options go all the way up to an 825w Meridian boneshaker, and various grades of JLR’s InControl infotainment system are offered. You can also get a waterproof Activity Key, in order to avoid dropping the expensive regular remote fob in the drink during that intense bout of windsurfing.

How big’s the boot and can I tow my gin palace?

Boot space varies from 258 litres with all seven seats in place to 2406 litres with all but the front pair folded. UK cars get seven seats as standard, though there is a five-seater option.

2017 Land Rover Discovery 5

To help you manage the new 3.5-tonne towing capacity (that’s still probably more horsebox than Sunseeker), Land Rover has conjured up some extra towing tech. Advanced Tow Assist helps with reversing while the trailer is attached – you literally ‘steer’ the trailer using the Terrain Response 2 rotary controller – while Trailer Light Test helps you check the lights are working. Obviously.

Discovery 5 is also the first to get an Electrically Deployable Towbar (complete with industry-first Nose Load Measurement to avoid overloading). Rear Height Adjustment allows you to raise or lower the car to match the trailer using the keyfob or switches in the boot, and Hitch Assist guides you onto the trailer mounting point using the external cameras and central display screen.

Trailer Stability Assist detects trailer sway on the move, and gently reduces your speed in order to bring it back under control.

How safe is this big ol’ bus, then?

Land Rover makes plenty of reference to ‘semi-autonomous’ technology – but place the emphasis firmly on the semi.

2017 Land Rover Discovery 5

This ain’t no E-Class; the only time it drives itself is during Park Assist manoeuvres, or when it’s correcting your exuberance through the Autonomous Emergency Braking (which now includes pedestrian detection at last) and Blind Spot Assist systems. Though you may (not) be amuse to learn the Intelligent Speed Limiter will prevent you from exceeding posted the limited unless you switch it off.

Beyond this the usual roster of modern safety tech is on offer, including adaptive cruise control, regular blind spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, automatic lighting, lane departure warning and lane keep assist. There’s no Euro NCAP score yet, but we’re expecting a solid performance.

New Discovery: pricing and trim levels

There will be five UK trim levels at launch. Here’s what they come with and what they will cost.

Entry level Discovery S:

  • Eight-speed auto, twin-speed transfer box, air suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels with full-size spare wheel
  • Seven seats, powered tailgate and powered inner tailgate
  • Cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, heated windscreen, heated door mirrors, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth
  • InControl Touch infotainment (no sat-nav)
  • InControl Protect, with collision detection, automatic SOS calling, Optimised Assistance for transmitting breakdown information to a recovery company (we’re saying nothing…)
  • From £43,395 on the road (OTR), SD4 engine only

Discovery SE:

  • Automatic LED headlights, power-fold mirrors, front foglights
  • Leather upholstery, 12x12 power-adjust heated front seats, interior mood lighting
  • 250w hifi, SD Navigation, front and rear parking sensors
  • £49,495-£52,295 (+£6,000 over S)

Discovery HSE:

  • 20-inch alloy wheels, ‘Signature’ taillights
  • Windsor leather upholstery, 16x16 memory front seats, heated rear seats, fixed panoramic roof, gesture-control tailgate, 380w Meridian Hi-Fi
  • InControl Touch Pro, including 10-inch touchscreen, 3G WiFi for eight devices, app connectivity and ‘route-learning’ SSD Navigation that aims to optimise your commute automatically
  • InControl Remote Premium, allows you to unlock the Disco with your smartphone or smartwatch, and to remote set the climate control before departure
  • Keyless entry (in case your smartphone is broken), Driver Condition Monitor (fancy name for one of those systems that tells you that you need a coffee), rear view camera, blind spot monitors
  • £56,995-£59,995 (+£7,500 over SE)

Discovery HSE Luxury:

  • 21-inch alloys
  • Extended leather upholstery, winged headrests (like a modern airliner), heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel
  • Opening sun roof, four-zone climate control, configurable interior mood lighting
  • 825w Meridian Hi-Fi, rear-seat entertainment screens
  • Surround-view camera system, Terrain Response 2 off-road tech
  • £62,695-£65,695 (+£5,700 over HSE)

Discover First Edition

  • Launch edition limited to 600 examples in the UK, based on HSE Luxury
  • Premium metallic paint: Namib Orange, Silicon Silver or Farallon Black
  • 22-inch alloys (finished in gloss black if you opt for Namib Orange)
  • Black exterior detailing (including the roof with Namib Orange)
  • Heated windscreen, heated and cooled front and second row seats, contrast piping and stitching, front centre console cooler compartment
  • All Terrain Progress Control, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning, self-parking Park Assist, 360-degree parking sensors, Activity key
  • £68,295 with Td6 engine only

The new Land Rover Discovery goes on sale in the UK in Spring 2017.

Read more Paris motor show news

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

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