2021 Land Rover Discovery launched11/10/2020
Mid-life update delivers straight-six engines and a facelift. And yes, the rear plate stays where it is
By Sam Sheehan / Tuesday, November 10, 2020
The time has come for Land Rover to update its Discovery with a mid-life refresh, adding three new six-cylinder engines, additional cabin tech and visual updates to the BMW X5 rival – but no centralised rear numberplate. Boo. This update is very much a technical one; as illustrated by the 2021 model’s new powerplants, which are a mix of petrol and diesel and all come with JLR’s latest 48-volt hardware. No less significant is the introduction of Land Rover’s six-pot diesel motor to the Commercial variant. 300hp off-roader van, anyone?
Before we get to that, however, let’s look over the changes to the main car. The exterior tweaks are mild to say the least: new LED lights sport a different day running design, and there are sweeping rear indicator lights and painted front wing vents. The R-Dynamic model primarily pictured here also gets new bumper designs, with a gloss black panel on the tailgate. You’re also given more dark options for the trim.
Inside, Land Rover’s seven-seat 4×4 receives a much larger (48 per cent larger, at 11.4 inches across) HD touchscreen in the centre console, with JLR’s PiviPro software said to speed up response times and offer more intuitive navigation through the menus than before. Combined with a new-for-the-Disco 12.3-inch instrument cluster – which gets HD 3D mapping – the central screen is now free to display other information while driving, bringing the three-year-old Land Rover into line with newer mid-sized SUV rivals from the likes of BMW and Audi.
It’s a similar story for the Discovery’s connectivity, with two LTE modems that allow the aforementioned tech to run multiple functions at the same time, without, we’re told, compromising performance. It also enables the updating of 4G Wi-Fi and software over-the-air updates, something that reduces demand for owners to visit retailers to ensure their software is up to date. Buyers can also add a full colour head-up display and cabin air ionisation tech for the first time. Again, these are features that bring the Disco into line with its rivals rather than lead them, but given the demand for digital finesse in the class, it’s all significant.
The Discovery has always been competitive on the practicality front, and that remains true here. The boot yields 2,391 litres of loadspace when the seats are down, or even 258 litres when all seven seats are in use. Every passenger gets a charging point as before, but now, those in the back are placed in redesigned seats said to provide more comfort. They’re also faced with new air vents promising the same. As for the driver, they’re given a new four-spoke steering wheel with JLR’s ‘hidden until lit’ buttons and metal paddle shifters. Land Rover has also added its latest gear selector to the central tunnel, while new digital GroundView tech – pinched from the Defender – ups visibility from the helm.
The new motor options are the P360 petrol and D250 and D300 oil burners, with those numbers representing their horsepower outputs. All are 3.0-litre Ingenium engines, with the diesel six-cylinders being made from aluminium with low-friction internals to ensure big boosts in efficiency over the SD4 and SDV6 lumps they replace. Obviously, mild hybrid tech is there to make doubly sure of that, by recuperating energy harvested during deceleration that can be used to assist the engine under power. As before, drive is sent to both axles via an eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox, and the car rides as standard on air suspension all round. Models above the P300 and D300 get adaptive damper tech, too.
The Discovery remains the SUV of choice to go off-roading in; only now, with the addition of the 300hp straight-six diesel to the Commercial variant’s engine line-up, it also looks very much like the vehicle to go cross country in too, with a load of cargo aboard. With 2,024 litres of cargo space at the rear and a maximum payload of 784kg, not to mention a towing capacity of up to 3,500kg (identical to the regular Disco), the van model holds a real USP in the professional segment. You might argue that buyers will surely go for Land Rover’s Defender Hard Top model in 110 guise, because it gets the same engine and has 35 litres more cargo space. But the Disco has comfort and better refinement in its corner.
The comparison with the Defender isn’t exclusive to the Commercial vehicle, either. Some have suggested that the regular Discovery’s future is threatened by the comparative success (at least at launch) of its more rugged sibling. That might not be an entirely fair assumption to make, given the difference Land Rover will have recognised in the people who buy them. But expect JLR’s execs to be paying close attention to the 2021-spec Disco’s performance nonetheless. Sales are open now, with prices starting £53,050.
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