There’s an awful lot of chatter over at the Land Rover camp at the moment, with the hugely anticipated 2020 Defender about to roll into showrooms. But the iconic off-road nameplate has been ‘gentrified’ somewhat and is now arguably targeted at the shopping trails as much as it is the bush tracks.
With that in mind, the Defender’s most stringent competition might just come from across the showroom floor, from an already urban-friendly, adventure capable machine.
We take a look at the 2020 Land Rover Discovery Landmark to see if the ‘other’ Land Rover can still claim to match its slogan as being the ‘best four by four by far’.
Sitting in the middle of the Discovery 5 range as a special ‘bundle’ edition, the Landmark is priced from $107,804 before options and on-road costs. That’s a chunky $35-grand more than the entry-level 2.0-litre Discovery S, but it is still some $18,230 more affordable than the range-topping HSE Luxury 3.0-litre.
For clarity, the Disco is offered with either a 177kW 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel or a 225kW 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel, in three key grades (S, SE and HSE) for a base range of six. Throw in a ‘luxury’ trim level of the HSE with both engines, then slap the V6-only Landmark in the middle for a total of nine models in the range.
On top of that is one of the longest lists of personalisation and customisation options known to modern society, so much so that by right, no two Discoveries need ever be the same. Ever. Try telling that to the owners of the matching black-on-black HSEs you’ll see at Brighton Woolies though…
The Landmark then seeks to simplify all of this by offering the ‘best’ of the Discovery in a well-specified package.
First and foremost, the Landmark is only available with the delicious twin-turbo V6, which is, quite frankly, the ONLY engine you need to consider for the Disco. It’s not that the smaller unit is bad, more than this one is just so good.
On the outside, you get the Dynamic Exterior Design Pack, Signature Hi-Line LED tail lamps, 20-inch split-spoke wheels in gloss black (style 5011 for those playing at home), powered tailgate, fixed front and rear panoramic roof panels and unique Landmark badging.
Inside there’s Ebony leather upholstery, unique ‘Lozenge’ aluminium trim, an eleven-speaker (10, plus a subwoofer) 380W Meridian Sound System with DAB tuner and a 360-degree parking camera. If you’ve been keeping the meter running this whole time, those extra goodies would add $11,860 to the price of a 3.0-litre SE, making the Landmark’s $8419 price premium a contextually good deal.
|Land Rover Discovery Landmark SDV6|
|Engine configuration||Six-cylinder twin-turbo diesel|
|Power||225kW @ 3750rpm|
|Torque||700Nm @ 1500-1750rpm|
|Power to weight ratio||100.6kW/t|
|Drive||Four-wheel drive (dual range)|
|Fuel consumption (combined cycle)||7.8L/100km|
|Fuel tank size||85L|
Of course, those extras are on top of the solid standard equipment list which includes puddle-lamps, a 3500kg-rated tow-hitch, LED headlamps with high-beam assist, 12-way power front seats and 10-inch TouchPro infotainment system.
But just as sure as night follows day, a Land Rover is never left brochure standard for long, and our Indus Silver Landmark ($2060 option, one of twelve choices) features a number of additional options.
Some make sense, like the locking rear differential ($1110). Some seem a little unnecessary like the rubber Activity Key ($960), quad-zone climate control ($1820), auto-dimming door mirrors ($410) and Ebony Morzine headlining ($850).
And some really should be standard on a six-figure family car. Paying $1190 for keyless entry and $4350 for the Driver Assist Pack (blind spot assist, 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, high-speed AEB and traffic-sign recognition) is getting a little tiring in 2020. These items are now basic safety and convenience technology and should be part of the standard package at this level.
One final item before we ring off the till is the optional third-row seats for $3470. Now, I have to admit, I always assumed the Disco was a seven-seater as standard, especially at this level, but as I’ll explain shortly, while the extra row does make for handy functionality, I’d probably leave this one off the tick-list too.
As tested then, our Landmark weighs in at $16,220 over list, for a grand total of $124,024 before on-road costs. Pricey? Yes, but you can go this far and beyond with the new Defender, so in terms of Land Rover showroom currency, we’re still in the zone.
I will say this too, it does look good.
The silver paint contrasts well with the black trim of the Dynamic Pack and the big-but-not-too-big wheels help fill the guards to complete the package. For even more contrast you can paint the roof black for an extra $2000, but I don’t think the car needs it. The standard rear privacy glass and panoramic roof panels of the Landmark do just enough to break up the size of the Disco.
And what a size it is.
At just under five metres long (4970mm) and over two metres wide (2073mm), the Discovery 5 doesn’t so much leave a footprint as it does a crater. Buy this for the open road you’ll head to on weekends and not the narrow carparks, driveways and lanes you need to negotiate during the week.
|Land Rover Discovery Landmark SDV6|
|Boot volume (min/max)||228L / 1137L / 2406L|
|Towing capacity (braked/unbraked)||750kg / 3500kg|
|Wheels/tyres||20-inch / 255/55/20 Pirelli Scorpion|
Worth noting too, that the cameras for reversing and parking aren’t the best quality or resolution (the rear one is very susceptible to spray in the wet), which is a bit frustrating as due to the size of the Discovery, cameras are pretty handy.
That said, it wears its size well and from all angles, including the asymmetrical rear end, it looks proportionately solid, and with near-on three-metres between the wheels (2922mm), it looks roomy too.
Which is to say it is roomy, up front at least.
From your first step on the chunky, rubberised kick-plates, you learn this is a car you climb up into rather than sit down in. The typical Land Rover ‘command’ driving position encourages you to sit high so that visibility is good, but if you’re coming from a smaller vehicle, the Discovery will take a bit of getting used to. There’s heaps of storage with a pair of gloveboxes, twin cupholders, a deep centre console, a couple of trays and big door pockets. For the driver and passenger, the layout is exceptionally sensible and practical.
It feels well built but quite utilitarian in implementation with rubberised dials and minimal buttons set into a black plastic panel, devoid of any fancy wood veneers or flourishes. From the rotary gear selector, Terrain Response off-road drive mode selection dial and air suspension controls, there is nothing you need that isn’t easy to reach, nor anything you don’t need cluttering the layout.
The steering wheel, too, is quite simple despite having a pair of touch-sensitive control points on the three- and nine- arm positions, to operate the cruise control and infotainment functions while on the move. In typical JLR fashion, none of these controls do anything to change the display in the instrument cluster, instead the ‘hidden’ buttons on the end of the indicator and wiper stalks are your friends here.
Which talking about infotainment, the 10-inch TouchPro system is a big improvement on the old 8.0-inch unit and now feels like it belongs in the car. Smartphone projection by way of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both supported, as are mobile extended functions through the Land Rover InControl App suite. The Landmark includes a DAB tuner and 10-speaker Meridian sound system with a subwoofer, too.
It’s a very comprehensive system, with some neat functions that show off-road performance and articulation settings. We had a couple of strange glitches with the system turning off, and subsequently NOT turning off, the CarPlay dropping out and the DAB tuner losing reception, but everything managed to reset with no permanent issue nor the ability to repeat the fault. Part of the Land Rover character, then.
Move back to the second-row, and there’s still a lot of room. The seats can slide fore and aft on rails and offer limited recline in their 40:20:40 split. There’s an armrest with cupholders in the centre backrest, and I will say unless someone is sitting there, fold down the middle headrest as it blocks the driver’s rear-view mirror vision completely.
Both outside seats have ISOFIX mounts and there are twin map-pockets on the back of both front seats, vents in the B-pillar and a pair of charge points on the back of the centre console.
The third-row then is where something has gone awry. Access is fine, but despite the size of the car, it isn't all that big back there. I can fit, but the middle row has to move forward and it is still quite cramped.
And the boot? What boot. With the third row up, there is 228 litres of space, which sounds okay, but it’s very narrow, especially with the cargo blind in its storage position. For the record with the third row folded you have 1137 litres, and 2406 litres with everything stowed flat. I’ve taken a photo that shows that the boot ‘shelf’ is essentially the length of the keyfob and keyring, which is not a particularly large benchmark.
That you had to pay extra for the third row is what stings even more, as I dare say the smaller Land Rover Discovery Sport is better packaged as a seven-seater. Put simply, if you need three rows with cargo space, the Disco just won't work. Personally, I’d suggest you forget the third row altogether and do something better with the $3470 saving.
In fact, you could fill the tank, outfit the family in adventure-brand fleeces and hit the road with change!
|Land Rover Discovery Landmark SDV6|
|Colour||Indus Silver Metallic|
|Options as tested||$16,220|
On the highway, the V6 is a dream. With 225kW available from 3750rpm, it doesn’t take long to get things moving quickly, but more importantly, the solid 700Nm peak torque output is yours from just 1500rpm. This gives the Discovery smooth response when you need it, so that overtaking while touring, as well as dealing with decent elevation changes sees the Land Rover barely break a sweat.
We saw a smidge over the claimed consumption cycle of 7.8L/100km, at 8.1L/100km, which for a 2.2-tonne car (2236kg) is pretty impressive. At times I was able to even outperform the highway claim of 7.1L/100km by cruising in the high 6s. It shows too that for a distance-covering family tourer, you don’t need anything bigger or more powerful. There is no Discovery SVR or similar performance variant, and I’d suggest there never need be.
The engine works well around town too. Fuel consumption increases but not dramatically so, and it still feels smooth and refined at low speeds.
The eight-speed auto is well sorted too, with it working diligently away in the background with barely a hint of a ratio change when the car is on the move. The rotary selector has never been a favourite of mine, but you do get used to it and it’s only popping the car in Park instead of Reverse, thus triggering the automatic start-stop system that causes any frustration.
With air suspension all round, the touring ride is very plush, albeit a little bit noisy on coarse-chip surfaces. Turn the A-road into a C-road and start pointing the Disco around some bends, and the weight, height (1909mm) and somewhat ‘floppy’ nature of the air ride will collectively suggest you slow down for a bit. Hit some sharper undulations or imperfections and there’s a discernible float and wobble as the suspension rebound takes a while to settle.
It’s not a lack of surety in any way, you still feel very much in control of the car, it’s just a bit more bouncy than you would find with a car on steel springs.
Off-road is another surprise and delight feature of the Discovery, just use the Terrain Select dial to chose your surface and plod on. The car will raise or lower, adjust throttle sensitivity and traction settings to give you the most fuss-free and dare I say, easy way to move forward.
I ventured through some light-duty, but quite steep and rutted trails north of the city, and the car never even felt it had left the carpark. Effortless on 20-inch rims, is not something I thought I would ever say.
Sure, there’s a point where the road-biased Pirelli Scorpions and $124k price tag will have you question whether continuing is the smart decision, but I didn’t get there, and I dare say it is much further away than you would expect.
In all, the Discovery is a very enjoyable all-weather adventurer and a brilliant long-distance tourer.
Ownership tends to get a bit of hot and cold feedback across the JLR brands, with minor issues around trim fit and finish and electrical gremlins being the main points. Land Rover still only offer a three-year/100,000km warranty, but there is a five-year service package available (with a 130,000km window) for $2650, which includes roadside assistance for the full five-year period.
Worth noting too, that any parts installed during the service program are themselves covered by warranty, so it provides an extra buffer of sorts on top of the warranty period.
So is the Landmark for you?
Honestly, if you buy one of these and stick to your postcode, you are missing out on the car’s greatest strength. It’s too big to keep caged in an urban zoo and too impractical as an ‘optional’ seven-seater to argue you need it for the space.
No, this is a car for the great open road, with plenty of room for five people and their clobber, and the engineering support to take you just about wherever you like.
At this level though, it really should have the Driver Assistance Pack bundled in, and I can’t believe you still have to pay for heated seats and keyless entry, so make sure you argue for those when it comes to your order.
As otherwise, in its brochure standard form, the 2020 Land Rover Discovery Landmark is proof that an exercise in restraint is where the ‘Disco works best. Leave the stitched dash, quilted seats and myriad options to the Range Rover gang, forget the third row, quad-zone climate and Morzine headlining too. I’d add the off-road pack instead to keep it nice, but still keep it simple, and reinforce this as a family car that helps you do what it says on the bonnet – Discover.