First Drive: Discovery 2021 – seriously sanitised

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By Patrick Cruywagen

28 April 2021

Discovery_2021 Pat driving the Discovery at Eastnor LRE : credit: © JLR

Patrick takes the MY21 Disco for a spin around Eastnor Castle

Going on a motoring event during lockdown is just plain weird. As I arrive at the Eastnor Castle Land Rover Experience I’m told not to leave my old Defender. A lady in a bio hazard suit comes over and tells me to stick a swab up my nose and throat, then 30 minutes later she confirms a negative test result and I’m free as Nelson Mandela. After a short, socially-distanced brief, I climb into the 21MY Discovery. How ironic that I find myself alone in what they have just sold to me as the ‘only full-size seven-seater premium SUV.’ That's like being the only person on the dancefloor when the DJ plays your favourite tune. But now it’s time to dance with the new Disco.

The biggest changes for the 21MY are the three six-cylinder Ingenium engines, both petrol and diesel, and all with 48V mild hybrid technology. I was in the P360: just like my Defender, it has a six-cylinder petrol engine, but unlike my Defender, it is capable of 360PS and 500Nm.

New PIVI Pro infotainment touchscreen

Straight away I notice some new additions. Like the 11.4-inch Pivi Pro infotainment touchscreen – how things have changed since the D3! It gets better. The screen is nicely nestled less than an arm’s length away in the soft-wrapped centre console. After connecting my iPhone 11 to the vehicle via Bluetooth, I place it in the storage area below the touchscreen, where it wirelessly charges.

The first section of the drive is on tar road. I’m in the R Dynamic SE, which means it has different bumpers, tail lights and wheels, making it sportier-looking. I promise you Sporty Spice had nothing to do with the design.

The roads around the Malvern Hills can be tight and fun and so I go for it. The Discovery responds magnificently (or should that be dynamically?). There's no body roll; it sticks to the tar like discarded gum. This is so different to when I took a base model new Discovery (with much less powerful engine)  around Iceland for a week. By different, I mean a more responsive, quicker and fun drive. I’m probably also using much more fuel…

Once back at Eastnor I’m given the keys to the D300. This is my first drive of the new straight-six diesel with MHEV. Its figures are impressive (300PS and 650Nm) but I won't get to experience them as I’m headed for the off-road course.

I have 22-inch 5 Split-Spoke Gloss Dark Grey Diamond Turned wheels (try saying that to win a million) with Pirelli Scorpion 285/40 R22 All-Season tyres. I’m not used to playing in the mud with that sort of rubber and shiny wheels. Before entering the rough stuff I select low range and Mud & Ruts on Terrain Response 2. I do like the way they have decluttered the controls and buttons. (Impressed that I spotted some of the minimalist features, Gerry? I know you read LRM.)The chunkier black gear lever also gets a positive nod from me.

Thanks to the incredible All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) I am able to control the speed that I want to drive at by using a little silver button on the new steering wheel. On the serious declines I pick the lowest speed possible, for maximum control.

It’s sickening really to see how easy this is for the Discovery. They have created a vehicle that's so good off-road – thanks to technology – that it has seriously sanitised the whole off-roading experience. That's great if you're a lifestyle journo who has never been off-road, but I’m not.

If someone is in the market for a Land Rover and they need to carry loads of gear and people, then the 21MY Discovery might just be a better choice than the latest Defender (if you have £60k +).

Does that mean the new Defender is actually the smaller, old Discovery? Or will the new Defender 130 be the new 21MY Discovery? Watch this space!

 

 

Prices:

• SE P360 R Dynamic £63,150

• SE D300 R Dynamic £62,390    

 

 

     

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