2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review – A 4×4 Beast In Luxury Clothes

HSE is highly luxurious & comfortable, 7 proper seats, sublime engine & gearbox, outstanding off-road ability

Info screen on instrument panel looks outdated

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4?

Land Rover Discovery 4 in a forest

 

Starting out life in 1989 as a competitor against vehicles from the hot Japanese market such as the Mitsubishi Shogun (Pajero/Montero) and Toyota Land Cruiser, the Discovery quickly gained popularity as being a tough, no-nonsense but roomy and comfortable 4×4. 2004 saw a major update in the design and workings, with the release of the Discovery 3 (LR3), pushing it forward and almost into a new market, such was luxury and electronic advancement on the vehicle.

Since then until now (2014), Land Rover have kept that same design, adding various updates to it over the years. The 2014 model sees another facelift, with a new frontal design, stop-start technology and better fuel efficiency, plus new driver aids and audio upgrades. We were sent the luxurious, new and improved 2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE for review, so let’s have a look at just how good this latest model is…

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review

Class, class, and more class, is how I’d describe the exterior of the 2014 Discovery. While there are other great-looking competitors out there – such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee – the Disco beats them all in the elegance department. At the same time, however, Land Rover have managed to make the ultra-chic Discovery 4 also look both mean and purposeful.

This 2014 version sees a few updates to the front end, and for starters you may have already spotted that for the first time ‘Discovery’ replaces the ‘Land Rover’ badging on the bonnet. There’s also a newly-styled front bumper and grille, but most noticeable are the front headlight clusters, which feature the current trend of having LED strips for running lights, but more importantly these replace the absolutely awful, overly-blingy and tacky individual LED daytime lights that were on the 2011 Discovery. Thank goodness for that, as for a moment the Disco looked like it’d lost its way and was headed for kitsch town.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review

Other slight changes include ‘SDV6’ badging on the front doors, and the rear tailgate now having ‘Discovery’ on it, without the ‘4’ afterwards. If you’re reading this in the Middle East or USA though, you won’t see a difference as the badging stays the same as the last model.

So, that’s the updates out of the way, let’s discuss the exterior overall. Up close to the Land Rover Discovery, it’s clear that this is a big vehicle. The US market call it a mid-sized SUV, but then over there they do have artic-truck sized SUVs too, so that’s a fair one. However, in the UK I’d say this is would be classed as a large. It stands at 1,887 mm (74.3″) high, 4,829mm (190.1″) long, and 2,053mm (80.8″) wide with the mirrors folded. So, it’s no shrinking violet then, and should you be in a small car it does make one a little apprehensive as the Discovery’s big square front looms large in the rear-view mirror.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE front end Review

The flat side and uncluttered rear of the Discovery also make for good viewing, and while it’s kept the elements of the original ‘1’ for the most part, it’s only ever got better-looking. In my opinion, the Discovery 4 is one of the smartest-looking 4×4’s out there right now, and certainly one of the most distinctive and recognisable too.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review front seats-2736

Ever since I went on holiday across France years ago in a 1995 Discovery 2 300Tdi, I’ve still got positive memories of the Disco’s interior, for I remember it being both spacious and comfortable – aside from the two rear seats in the boot, that is, which faced each other and left very little leg room.

Land Rover sent us the Discovery 4 HSE, which is second from the top of the range, but besides a dual-view screen and 20″ alloy wheels, there’s no difference in materials to the range-topping HSE Luxury.  Land Rover had also specified the HSE with Almond Windsor Leather seating, Almond/Arabica colouring and Grand Black Lacquer trim. For my personal taste, this is the one I’d go for, as it looks truly high-class and stylish.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review interior rear leather seats HDR 2

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review 3rd row boot rear seats

While the Discovery is well laid-out and decent in general on any of the models – even with the cloth interior – from the moment you open a door of the Discovery HSE, you’re taken aback by just how nice an interior this is. It oozes quality and refinement from every pore, and there are even hints of art-deco in the form of the satin-finished solid metal and leather door handles. The front and (three proper) rear seats are ridiculously sumptuous and comfortable, while even the third fold-out row in the boot area can seat two adults in comfort – the first car I’ve tested where 7 seats actually mean 7 seats, and not five plus two cramped child-sized ones.

To add to the luxuriousness, the doors and dash have thick, padded leather on top, while leather-covered and stitched fold-down armrests on the front chairs add further to the level of refinement. On this model, there were heated seats both front and for sides of the middle row too, keeping you cozy through harsh winter weather. The roof is high inside, and the side windows are huge, but to make it feel even more airy there are three individual sunroofs with sliding blinds; one each for the front, middle and rear rows.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review front seats

While all this is wonderful stuff, the physical design of the interior points towards the toughness and capability of the Discovery 4. The dash for example, rather than flowing and rounded, is chunky and flat-edged, military-esque even. More proof that the Discovery can do both posh and practical is by taking a closer look at all the controls on the centre console; any dials are rubber-edged and cog-like in design for better grip, and any buttons are big and easy to press, even on the steering wheel. In other words folks, they are made for pressing and turning with gloves on, which you’ll likely do in the dead of winter and you’ve just finished clearing snow and ice from the windows.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review-2703

The driver’s instrument panel is simple, yet classic, with two traditional analogue dials and a small central information screen that shows your 4×4 driving mode, satellite navigation instructions, cruise control speed and more. This screen though, I felt is now outmoded. The graphics are slightly squared and only in black and white, and there are now rivals – such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee – offering much better versions of this type of display.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE driver's instrument panel

The mutli-media system in the Discovery HSE is a good one, and comes equipped with DAB radio, decent sat nav which includes off-road instruction, and the HSE has the High-Line Harmon Kardon 11-speaker, 380-watt sound system – definitely a good one if you like your music. The tester we had was spec’d with the £1,000 Vision Assist Pack option, which includes the superb Surround Camera System with Approach Lamps, and Tow Hitch Assist which gives you options to view the rear camera in different modes for horseboxes, trailers, caravans and more.

The other option was the £750 Exterior Detection Pack, which includes amongst other things the unique-to-Land Rover feature of Wade Sensing. This shows you – via the display – just how deep the water is around the vehicle when you’re fording a river, and is quite possibly the coolest bit of kit we’ve come across on a four-wheel-drive yet.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review boot space with seats up.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review boot space with seats folded

One final point is that luggage space is, as you might expect, massive. With the 2nd row of seats in place, there’s 1,192 litres available and with those folded flat you’re looking at 2,558 litres! That’s possibly as much as a small cave.

All in all then, the Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE interior is utterly brilliant. There’s plenty to like about it, and nothing really to dislike, as it’s luxurious, practical, restful, airy and refined all at once.

Engine and gearbox

The UK-spec Discovery’s all get the same engine and gearbox; an SDV6 with ZF 8-speed automatic. The SDV6 is a 3.0 litre V6 parallel-sequential turbo-intercooled diesel kicking out 252 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm, and 442 lb ft (600 Nm) torque at 2,000 rpm. This is, in fact, a slightly de-tuned version of the engine you’ll find the Jaguar XJ 3.0V6 D, albeit with a little less power, but the same planet-pulling torque.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Engine

For this 2014 model, CO2 emissions are reduced from 230 g/km to 213 g/km, and that’s important to you, the consumer, as it means your annual car tax bill will drop from £475 to £280! That’s a rather substantial drop eh. The mpg has also been improved to 35.3 Combined. The other official UK economy stats are; Urban: 32.5, and Extra urban: 37.2. The Discovery’s top speed is 112 mph, and it’ll get from 0 – 60 mph in a very respectable 8.8 seconds. Not bad for something weighing in at between 2,500 – 2,718 kilograms.

The gearbox is the aforementioned ZF 8-speed automatic, and it’s a wonderful thing, changing gears in an ultra-slick manner and with good ratios too, and at 30 mph the engine turns over at just less than 1,000 rpm. At those sort of revs, you can imagine you’ll be getting pretty decent fuel economy.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

Driving the 2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE on mud track

Climb aboard the Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE, and instantly you are submersed into a feeling of cosseted protection. There’s a sense that you could take the big beast anywhere, on any adventure, and it would do what you wanted willingly. More than that, you feel like breaking free of the boundaries or the town or city you happen to be in, and driving out and away from the gnarled-up roads full of heavy traffic, and into somewhere open, and more muddy, or snowy, or sandy. All that from simply sitting in the Discovery for a couple of minutes. I jest not, it does that to you. If it doesn’t, you may as well go and buy a front-drive family MPV, for a Discovery deserves to be used properly.

Fire the engine into life, and the 3.0 litre V6 diesel quickly settles down into a refined-sounding thing. It’s a lovely smooth motor, and very un-diesel like in its noise, even when it’s idling. Turn the gear selector to drive, push the button to release the electronic handbrake,and the Discovery glides forward powerfully, and silkily. From the get-go, the Discovery pulls really strongly, and the reason for that is that the engine delivers a hefty 500 Nm (376 lb ft) in just 500 milliseconds, from idle. That’s over 80% of the total torque, in about half a second. That’s impressive.

Driving the 2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review

The ZF 8-speed automatic ‘box is superb, and further aids the already-smooth acceleration by changing gear in 200 milliseconds, and you’ll find you don’t even notice it changing up or down. It’s not a dual-clutch transmission, but Land Rover reckons their transmission is as smooth, but provides ‘ a more sophisticated driving experience’. It’s certainly an advanced gearbox though, as it’ll monitor your driving habits and change gear for the best performance or fuel economy, depending on how you drive.

What I really liked is that the Discovery allows you to downshift when you want, not when it wants, giving you way more input and a better experience overall. It means that if you fancy putting all that toque down before braking hard for a corner and using the engine to slow the Discovery, you can, and if you’re travelling down a steep hill towing something, but decide the Hill Descent is just too slow, you can control it entirely yourself. Thank you Land Rover for doing this, and not fitting some annoying over-nannying ‘box.

Driving the 2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review

The air-suspension means the Discovery feels like it’s floating down the road, and absorbs even harsh pot-holes and bad surfaces so well you’d almost believe you were driving on a fresh stretch of tarmac. Considering its weight and height, the Discovery 4 handles itself with rather decent poise around the bends, and while it’s not as sporty or composed as the Jeep Grand Cherokee we tested, it’s still not too bad when pushing on through the twisties.

The brakes are nice and positive too, and they never felt overwhelmed or underpowered, even under heavy braking from higher speeds. It’s the same with the steering, which is nicely weighted and there’s enough feedback to be happy with for a big SUV.

Driving the 2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE in forest

Overall, the Discovery is an enjoyable ride for driver and passengers, as the comfort level is so good thanks to not only the air suspension, but the deep, plush seating too. Anyone who got behind the wheel of the Disco loved it. There’s plenty of power to hand (or foot), and the pace that slick SDV6 gives means you’ve got the potential to travel long distances at cruising speeds with the engine being under-stressed, and the poke to overtake quickly when you need to.

On road driving in the 2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review

With it being permanent four-wheel-drive, the Discovery is absolutely sure-footed in heavy rain and in slippery conditions. Myself and a friend drove the Discovery 4 up to a forest, and for the 90 minutes journey, it rained without letup, getting heavier and heavier as time went on. It was so bad there were mini rivers running down the sides of the road, with huge amounts of standing water, and mud being washed off fields making the road surface even more slippery. The Discovery brushed off all of this, and was completely poised for the entire journey, turning what should of been a tense trip into a pleasant drive out splashing through mini lakes.

So we’ve established the Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 is good on-road, but what about off the beaten path? Lets get it muddy and find out!

AWD and off-road. Stuck or superb?

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review-2988

The answer to the above paragraph title is obvious really, isn’t it. Ever since the 2004 Discovery came out, with its Terrain Response, it’s been known as one of the best vehicles you can buy for off-road use, and it’s up there with the elite. Still, let’s have a look closer at it to see what it does best.

Terrain Response takes much of the stress out of off-road driving, and makes it easy for even amateurs to get their Discovery out of a sticky situation. On the Discovery 4, there’s a bank of buttons in the centre console, in front of the gear selector dial. At first glance, it can look a little complex, but take a couple of minutes to look at the buttons closer and it’s obvious what each does.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review terrain response selector

There’s a button to raise or lower the suspension, one for Gradient Acceleration Control (or hill-descent), another button for low and high range, and one more for the engine stop/start feature – new to this 2014 Discovery 4. Up above that, there are left and right controls for selecting between off-road settings; grass, gravel, snow, mud and ruts and rock crawl. To put it briefly, Land Rover’s description probably sums it up best; “[Terrain Response] reconfigures transmission, suspension and traction settings for maximum drivability in almost all conditions“.

The Discovery 4 HSE that Land Rover sent us also included the option of a Rear Axle Locking Differential, costing £750. If you’re serious about off-roading, and want to make your Disco even better than it already is over the rough stuff, you’ll be wanting to tick that box.

When we took the Discovery down an extremely boggy dis-used logging trail, it was so sure-footed it was ridiculous. I honestly thought the Discovery would get stuck, after walking across a stretch and sinking my boot into the bog immediately, but after selecting the ‘Mud and Ruts’ setting, and raising the suspension, it just monstered its way down the track with so little slip it may as well have been driving on the road. That rear diff option no doubt helped things hugely, but even so it is massively impressive in its ability to make a situation like that be as stress-free as a drive down the road.

Off road mud bog driving in the 2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review

We also took the Discovery through a fast-flowing ford, and due to the above mentioned heavy rain, it had swelled and was deeper than usual, but flowing head-on rather than from the side, which can make things more dangerous. This is where the other option you need if you actually plan on going off-road often; Wade Sensing. This is part of the £750 Exterior Detection Pack, and uses sonar to read how deep water is as you drive through it. Amazing stuff, and we found it useful as the display popped up once we entered the ford, reassuring us it was all okay and could cope no problem, being nowhere near the huge 700mm (27.5″) maximum wading depth.

In summary, there’s enough video’s on YouTube to entirely convince anyone of the Land Rover Discovery’s off-road capabilities, and there’s no doubt that this is one of the ultimate 4×4’s on the market today.

Camera used is the Action-Tek HD From Vision-Tek.co.uk

Price

The 2014 Discovery 4 starts at £39,990 for the GS, which still has Terrain Response, 7-seats, climate control and much more, so it won’t lose out in that area at all. The price goes all the way up to £59,450 for the HSE Luxury (that’s before any options too). Our HSE tester costs £53,750 as standard, although Land Rover had ticked a load of options for it, taking the price to over £57,000. That’s a lot of cash.
My personal choice would be the XS, which is between the GS and HSE in the spec list. It costs £46,850, but you get the choice of black or Almond/Arabica leather seating as standard, heated front seats, 19″ alloy wheels, a 380-watt Meridian sound system with sat nav and bluetooth and more, so you’re getting a lot of the luxury stuff over the base model without the price skyrocketing too high.

What about its rivals though? The Volkswagen Touareg is £38k – £56k,  the Audi Q7 £43.8k – £64k, the Volvo XC90 £37,000 – £43,600, the Jeep Grand Cherokee £37,695 – £60,695, the Mitsubishi Shogun LWB £26,200 – £36,800, the Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dCi £33,000 to £37,800, the Toyota Land Cruiser 3.0 litre D-4D  £46 – £65,000.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE verdict & score

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE Review

In summary, this latest Discovery 4 is a sublime machine. I think I’d even have it over the all-conquering Range Rover (gasp), simply for the fact that you don’t mind ragging it through bushes and down rough tracks, should it come to that. I know the Rangey is awesome off-road too, but somehow the Disco seems more suited to it than the beautiful and expensive RR.

Also, other road users tend to glare at you in the Range Rover, probably because they’re envious, but people actually give the Discovery an approved glance, without giving the driver a dirty look at the same. This then is one of the ultimate all-rounders. It’s great on the road, has a superb engine and gearbox, with good exterior looks, vast amounts of space inside the luxurious cabin and exceptionally comfortable seating for all 7 people, and most of all it’s utterly sublime should you want to go off-road. There’s nothing more to add – it’s quite simply brilliant!

Do you own a Land Rover Discovery 3 or 4? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  9
Interior  9
Engine  9
Gearbox (auto)  9
Price  8.5
AWD & off-road ability  9.5
Drive  9
Overall Score  9.0 / 10

  Specs

Model (as tested)  2014 Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE
Spec includes  19″ alloy wheels, leather seating, 3 sunroofs, 7 seats – heated seats front & rear, auto climate control, High-Line Harmon Kardon 11-speaker, 380-watt sound system, sat nav See website for more info
Options you should spec  Vision Assist Pack: £1,000, Exterior Detection Pack: £750
The Competition  Toyota Land Cruiser, Mitsubishi Shogun, Volkswagen Touareg, Audi Q7, Nissan Pathfinder, Volvo XC90, Jeep Grand Cherokee
Price  (Feb. ’14)  £39,990 – £59,450. This model: £57,000 with options.
Engine  3.0 litre V6 twin-turbo diesel SDV6
Power, Torque, CO2   Power: 252 hp @ 4,000 rpm | Torque: 442 lb ft (600 Nm) @ 2,000 rpm | CO2: 213 g/km
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Permanent 4 wheel drive | ZF 8-speed automatic
Ground clearance & Wading depth  Clearance: 310 mm  (12.2″) | Wade depth: 700mm (27.5″)
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 112 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 8.8 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: 2013 version not yet tested
Fuel economy (UK mpg)  Urban: 32.5, Extra urban: 37.2, Combined: 35.3
Weight (kerb)  2,500 – 2,718 kilograms (5,511 – 5,992 lbs)
Websites  Land Rover UK, Land Rover USA, Land Rover global


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Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies

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