2009 Land Rover Discovery 3 - Car Review
Refined V6 Right At Home in Disco3
Acknowledged for its distinctive, stylish good looks, brilliant interior and driving dynamics, the appeal of Land Rover’s Discovery 3 has been broadened by an available V6 turbo-diesel engine.
The 2.7-litre turbo-diesel is based on a Jaguar engine design and joins the 4.0-litre V6 and 4.4-litre V8 in providing the Discovery 3 with an impressive choice of powerplants.
Land Rover handed Car Showroom the keys to a TDV6 S – the entry level of the three-model turbo-diesel Discovery 3 lineup – and said: “see you in a week”.
What You Get
A mid-size 5-seat SUV (third seat row optional on ‘S’ model, standard on SE and HSE versions), the Discovery 3 is clearly a European mid-sizer that delivers massive space in the smartly-designed, flexible interior.
On-road driving dynamics are amongst the best in the segment and the bitumen runs-out, the Discovery 3 is brilliant - especially in SE and HSE models fitted standard with Land Rover’s clever ‘Terrain Response’ system which allows the driver to select both the suspension and electronic aids to suit the conditions.
Under The Hood
The 2.4-litre 24-valve turbo-diesel V6 is impressive – 140kW of power at 4,000rpm and a most impressive 440Nm of torque from 1900rpm. Drive is to all four wheels via a six-speed electronic automatic transmission. Acceleration is swift – Land Rover claims zero to 100km/h takes around 12.8 seconds which is on-par with Volkswagen’s Touareg, but a bit slower than the M-Benz ML-Class diesel.
Land Rover says the combined cycle fuel economy is 11.7l/100kms. Combine that frugality with the standard 82-litre fuel tank and you have an outback-conquering range between refills.
We were impressed by the refined and unfussed way the TDV6 Discovery we tested went about the week – easily accelerating into city traffic and most pleasant while rushing through our mountain roads test loop at night and in heavy rain.
Superb interiors have been a major reason why Land Rover has enjoyed great sales success in Australia since the Discovery was first launched here back in 1991.
The current model continues that tradition – lots of space for both front and rear seat occupants, nicely sculptured seats, a range of instruments that are not flashy or overly-techno and of course Land Rover’s commanding driving position.
You will need to go to the higher-spec SE and HSE models to enjoy leather seats with electronic adjustment and walnut trim finishes, but the S model we sampled still presented a luxurious feel.
Bluetooth compatibility is on the options list and while the standard audio system was good enough for us, moving up to the range-topping HSE model secures a premium Harmon/Kardon 13-speaker six-CD in-dash system with rear seat headphones and steering wheel controls.
At first glance, for those not familiar with the Discovery 3, the four-wheel-drive controls located on the center console look they came straight from the cockpit of the Airbus A380 super-jumbo jet. For those of us who have driven ‘Discos’ before or for those who consult the Owners’ Manual, the controls are actually brilliantly simple in their layout and operation and in fact they are a lot easier to understand and operate than many rival systems.
The bottom line – the Discovery 3 provides one of the best interiors you’ll find in any SUV…it’s as simple as that.
Exterior & Styling
Clearly Land Rover’s designers are on a theme that is unique and we like the evolving yet distinctive looks of the Discovery.
The current model is beefy and mucho compared to it predecessors, but there are design cues and throw-backs all the way to the original 1991 models.
Discovery’s low waistline continues the model’s tradition of abundant glass area for excellent visibility.
The thick horizontal front grille bars and combination headlights/indicators (Bi-Xenon on HS and HSE versions) are contemporary and practical.
On The Road
The Discovery 3 is no lightweight (Land Rover claims the kerb weight is 2504 kgs) but actually delivers one of the best drives in the segment. Sure the petrol V8 model with 220kW/425Nm is a very handy beast, but the TDV6 is not relegated to the minor leagues.
And of course that kerb weight does come in handy when towing is a requirement.
Like any SUV, at the extreme limits, we did detect some body roll in corners, however the Discovery 3 remained poised and provided sharp turn-in and steering response from start to finish during our high-speed run through the mountains.
It all feelt very serene and refined – as one has come to expect from the Euro players in the mid-size SUV segment.
The S model sits on 17-inch alloys (18” on the other versions) and ride over Melbourne obstacles like train and tram tracks was at all times compliant and refined.
While the equipment level of the ‘S’ model is extensive and includes lots of luxury, convenience and safety features, the SE actually represents better value for money (assuming you can stretch to north of $70K) with the inclusion of the third seat row, Land Rover’s excellent air suspension and Terrain Response 4WD system.
We are fans of the entire Land Rover family and the Discovery is no exception.
Distinctive European styling; great interior; nice diesel
Not the best value in the segment