REVIEW | The 2020 Land Rover Discovery Landmark Edition is a celebratory delight
I’ve been driving a Land Rover Discovery 3 for the past eight years. The first five years were extremely blissful until I unexpectedly encountered an assortment of problems, but mainly its pneumatics had been a real snag.
I fixed them several times until I caved in five months ago. With Covid-19 and salary cuts all round, I have decided to park it in my driveway until I get used to the finances that come with the “new normal”.
Now with a flat tyre from not being driven for so long, it looks like it’s bound for junk status. But having driven the fifth-generation Discovery Landmark Edition last week, I have since been invigorated to fix my ailing darling Landy.
The Landmark Edition — launched late last year — commemorates three decades of the Discovery nameplate. It features a list of subtle visual and specification upgrades over the regular car. Fun fact: the Discovery made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1989.
The new Disco 5 is a completely different animal from its boxy first descendant. From a technological perspective, it is a far cry from the bare-bones character of old. The goodies available in 2020 make light work for the driver. I was impressed with its facility that brightens its LED headlights automatically on a dark road, then dims when there’s an oncoming car. I know most latest cars have that magic but my sick, old friend had none of that.
It also has a 360° parking pack that makes it easy to manoeuvre this big beast in a tight, urban bay. In the week I saw my sister being hitched, I had to chauffeur my mom around. And so respectful of this monster, it lowers itself into access height when stationary, allowing my old lady to get in with ease.
The look resembles that of the latest Range Rover and it got me answering many questions from car enthusiasts, most of whom were admirers. When you drive in front of this SUV and see the giant black front grille filling your rear-view, bumper adorned with massive air-intake slots, you just get out of the way.
The black trimmings are not limited to the grille, sprinkled through the rest of the exterior too. It looks sinister, especially with the dark tinted windows and contrasting snowy white paint of my tester.
The back of the car remains distinctly characterised by its off-centred number plate. It’s an eyesore really because we are used to number plates being in the middle. But because of the many good traits the Disco 5 possesses, we shall let that one slide. Another attractive styling feature is a set of massive (20-inch) wheels with a glossy finish.
The booming, crystal-clear sound comes from Meridian speakers and the infotainment touchscreen doesn’t require that the average person reads a manual in order to navigate through it successfully.
And then there’s the off-road ability — a reputation for which the entire Discovery lineage is well known.
Commenting on the spacious interior, my mother called it a four-roomed house. It accommodates seven, with two seats at the back reserved for kids. They are foldable and make space for luggage if you need.
There’s a lot of natural light coming through because of the rear and front panoramic roofs. The front one you can slide open, but the back one is fixed. The Disco 5 is stiffer than its ancestors, with a smooth, vibration-free drive. Much of this is thanks to a chassis constructed largely of strong, lightweight aluminium.
It has an auto gearbox (eight-speed) that responds excitedly when the accelerator is stepped on. Though it’s not your typical sport car, it still handles curves with fair capability. In the Landmark Edition, power comes from a 3.0-litre, turbocharged-diesel V6, producing 190kW and a whopping 600Nm.
For a while, the Landmark ensured I was a real man-about-town, admired by friends and foes eating their hearts out. It’s a privilege that would cost upwards of R1,427,900 to sustain.
Mzi Oliphant is the chief layout subeditor for Sowetan Motoring.