Glamour model: Land Rover Discovery
Some cars come with huge expectations. That is certainly true of Land Rover’s new Discovery, a car with a massive reputation amassed over 28 years and five model generations. The last one has just ended production after a seven-year reign as one of the most all-round capable cars in the world.
The new one comes just as Land Rover is shifting gear to climb further up-market and the freshly reborn Discovery reflects that. The car has been “reimagined”, we’re told. Less boxy than the highly-regarded old model, it has more Range Rover-esque styling, a new and lighter weight chassis, a more luxurious cabin and significant technical upgrades. It has been given a metal-look grille, wraparound rear glass, and a single-piece tailgate in place of the oddly assymetric horizontal split-opening one on the old car.
The result is a more glamorous-looking large family car with improved efficiency. It is now much less overtly the all-terrain workhorse that it is still totally capable of being. This was very convincingly demonstrated by a series of outrageously tough terrain tasks we were invited to experience, on a Herefordshire estate where the SAS train. That’s effectively what the Discovery is: the James Bond of the motoring scene, a fearless any-task operative in a slick city suit.
Land Rover has put the Discovery on a very strict diet and pared its weight by 480 kg – almost half a ton – but it is still a big brute weighing 2.2 tonnes. It’s five metres long and can comfortably accommodate seven adults in its three rows of full-size seats. It has some very canny features, such as the ability to press a tab on the front touchscreen, or on a phone app, to simultaneously fold down five of the seats and instantly turn the interior into a van-like carrier when you need to. Then, when you’re ready to carry passengers again, the same tab will electrically unfold the seats back up again.
It’s a car with plenty of mod cons, including nine USB ports, six 12-volt charging points, a 10-inch satnav touchscreen, a hidden compartment where you can stow four Mini-iPads and a built-in bench that pivots down over the tailgate sill so you can perch for a picnic, heavy duty enough to take the weight of three adults. At the heart of the Discovery is its utterly brilliant dial-a-surface Terrain Response system, which has a new feature that automatically manages trailer reversing. That’s a boon for any owner who might want to tow and the maximum towing capacity is a massive 3,500 kilos.
The best engine choice for business users is the two-litre Ingenium diesel, with 237 bhp of power, 171 g/km CO2 emissions, and a combined fuel figure of 43.5. The fun one is the three-litre V6 diesel with 254 bhp and 442 lb ft of torque, an 8.1 seconds sprinter with 189 g/km CO2 and 39.2 mpg economy.
New Discovery prices start from £43,495.
Glamour model: Business savvy: Peugeot 3008
These are interesting times for the French car group PSA, producer of the Peugeot, Citroen and DS brands. It is well on the road to a takeover of the European branch of General Motors, namely Opel and Vauxhall. Meanwhile it is busy refreshing its current product range, to keep pace as the motoring scene becomes ever more crowded and competitive.
So it is good news for Peugeot that the surprise of this year’s crop of new cars thus far has been its new 3008. This is the replacement for a car that was pleasant and mannerly, but somewhat undistinguished. It has been transformed to such an extent that it is now one of the best-driving of the current crop of mid-size SUV-crossovers.
It is the latest model to adopt Peugeot’s now signature i-Cockpit, combining a small steering wheel with elevated instrument dials, so that you view them over the top of the wheel instead of – more conventionally – through it. This feature is disliked by some, but has proved generally popular with Peugeot buyers and it works particularly well in the tallish cabin of the 3008. It also has the kind of virtual instrumentation that is steadily taking over in prestige models coming from German car makers, but is less common in more mainstream cars.
What particularly pleases about the 3008 is the driving experience, with taut handling, precise-feeling steering and absorbent suspension. There is a sporty feel to the car’s general demeanour that contrasts with its modest French brand badge. It has a high quality cabin for a car in its price bracket and there is an optional electric scooter that stows in the boot, where it attaches to a charge-point that keeps it permanently primed ready to use. The boot, at 520 litres, is one of the biggest among rival models.
Pricing for the 3008 starts from just under £22,000, which buys a base-specification 1.2 litre petrol model. The top version as a business car, and likely best-seller, is the 1.6 BlueHDi diesel, which has a 118 bhp power output, 104 g/km CO2 and 70.6 combined mpg.
Photos: Sue Baker