DRIVEN: Land Rover Discovery 5 HSE

The Land Rover Discovery has been with us for more than 30 years now. I recently spent a week with one to find out how good the latest iteration is. The Discovery 5 (this is the 5th version of the Disco although it’s actually the third all-new platform) has been with us since 2017. It dispensed with the boxy, rugged design language in favour of a smoother and more refined look. Much like the current Range Rover.

The latest car shares an aluminium platform with the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. It is larger and more refined than the cars that went before it and has managed to take the Discovery in a new luxurious direction.

The early Discoverys were designed to be far more basic than their modern grandchildren. Aimed at farmers and country folk who liked the versatility of a Defender but wanted a more car-like driving experience. Today the Discovery has a different clientele. It seems to be more aimed at someone who wants eight tenths of the luxury you get from a Range Rover but with more practicality and more seats.

Driving the Discovery

The first thing that hit me when driving the latest Discovery is that it feels much closer to the Range Rover than ever before. I mean that as a compliment. The ride, feel and overall dynamics of the car are just more luxurious than older Discoverys. It doesn’t feel as sporty as some of the RR range and because of that it fits into its own niche still but the line between Land Rover’s more luxury oriented cars and the Discovery have started to blur.

It’s at home on the motorway and on a country back road. You never feel the need to hustle it which is good because whilst the 2.0l Diesel engine is more than capable. It isn’t fast. Push the engine hard and you’ll notice the smaller capacity and how it struggles a little with the size of the vehicle. Thankfully there are larger engines available and the 3.0 SD6 option is probably the one I’d urge you towards. But the SD4 in our test car was better than I expected when I first looked at the specs. It gives you a reasonable 8.3 second 0-60 sprint which might be all you need if you spend more of your time in an urban environment. It’s more than refined enough too.

Space and Practicality

This is where the Discovery wins big. The rear loadspace is huge and with the second row seats folded flat it becomes a small van. We used the Discovery to take a group of us away for the weekend (pre-lockdown) and there was enough space for all our bags, boots and tasty beverages as well as taking on baggage from other friends in smaller vehicles. You could easily take the Discovery for a family trip and never have squeeze anything into it.

But if baggage or large items isn’t your requirement and getting bums on seats is then Discovery wins big again. It has a third row of seats that raise out of the boot floor and will easily allow two full-size adults to sit back there in reasonable comfort.

Up-front, the driver and passenger have plenty of space. There’s a commanding view of the road which we’ve come to expect and plenty of storage space for all the things you might need to hand on a long journey. It really does make many other cars in this class feel cheaper because the levels of luxury on offer, especially in the HSE model we had on test, are that much better than its rivals. Only the Volvo XC90 is comparable really.

Off-road technology

The Discovery has more tech for going off-road than we could reasonably test in the wilds of North Norfolk. Still we did take it on a few interesting green lanes and the Discovery felt right at home. The move upmarket from older models hasn’t stopped it from being a true Land Rover.

It has Terrain Response 2 which means that you can basically let the Discovery deal with what’s underneath you whilst you enjoy the drive. It also has wade sensing so that you don’t exceed the 900mm maximum wading depth. It just makes the process of getting muddy easy for anyone.


The latest Discovery is luxurious enough for all but the most demanding people. It is an easy place to spend extended periods of time. It has acres of space inside and can accommodate plenty of fully grown people. To my eyes at least, it’s a handsome car. Not beautiful but much better on the eye than many of the fussier options from rival manufacturers (even if the rear number plate location does divide opinion). But most of all it is still a true Discovery. None of the moves to make it more luxurious have sacrificed its practicality or usability.


  • Price: From £62,505 on the road
  • Engine: 2.0l SD4 Diesel
  • Power (HP): 240
  • Torque (Nm): 430 (at 1,400 rpm)
  • 0-60mph: 8.3 seconds
  • Top Speed: 121mph

What do you think of the current Discovery? Let us know in the comments.