First drive: 2014 Land Rover Discovery 4

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It's the new Land Rover Discovery. Well, not quite – until a brand new version arrives sometime in the distant future, Land Rover is keeping its country set workhorse fresh with a raft of stylistic, mechanical and technological improvements.

What it is?

It's the new and improved version of the car you see at every Waitrose, gym, farm shop and school car park – the Land Rover Discovery. Take a quick glance and the 2014 version of the Discovery 4 looks little different from the car already on sale. But look closer and you'll spot 'Discovery' badging on the nose instead of traditional 'Land Rover'; '4' disappears from the tailgate leaving just 'Discovery'; an edgier-looking front bumper, glitzier grille, less-fussy daytime-running lights, new door mirrors and wheels. Under the bonnet lies a tweaked engine while for the first time the Discovery gets tech normally reserved for its Range Rover bigger brother – but more on that later.

What's under the bonnet?

Just one engine – Jaguar Land Rover's robust 253bhp 3.0-litre diesel (badged 3.0 SDV6) that has been made more environmentally friendly with CO2 emissions dropping from 230g/km to 213g/km and mpg improving from 32.1 to 36.2 combined. All models get a slick eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox with paddle shifters and there's a choice of four-wheel drive systems too - An on-road single-speed transfer system and mud-plugging twin-speed transfer box. It's the perfect engine for this type of car and makes easy work of hauling around the Disco's 2.5-tonne weight.

What's the spec like?

It may be getting on a bit now, but the Discovery 4 comes in a range of different specifications. All models come loaded with equipment and the range kicks off at £39,990 for the GS and £46,850 for the HS. But it's the HSE and HSE Luxury which are likely to be the top-sellers in the UK as they have the right amount of snobbery value – they're priced at £53,750 and £59,450 respectively. There's yards of leather used to deck out the cabins and they can be specced with tech normally reserved for the Range Rover – clever stuff such as wade sensing technology, blind spot monitoring, close vehicle sensing and reverse traffic detection and T-junction cameras all make an appearance. Want a 17-speaker Meridian audio system? That'll be £4k please.

Any rivals?

Well, there are loads – but you already knew that didn't you? Topping the list is the new BMW X5 while there's also the Mercedes-Benz ML, Volkswagen Touareg and even the old Volvo XC90. In this class, it comes down to badge as much as ability.

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4

2014 Land Rover Discovery 4


What's it like to drive?

It's really rather good. The engine is the car's sweet spot – punchy and very refined – and the eight-speed auto 'box must be one of the best in the class, switching between gears with little fuss. The driving position is near-enough spot-on and the car changes direction easily and confidently – there's no Discovery 1 roll here.

The AOL Cars verdict

Those who say the Discovery is getting too glitizy these days and blurring the line between a Land Rover and a Range Rover won't be impressed with the new version. While it may proudly carry its nameplate on the nose and tailgate, the new Disco is posh – and there's no getting away from it. It looks super stylish and gives off an image different from any Range Rover; dignity rather Puff Diddy. That's not to say there aren't any faults – the lovely squared-off styling makes for a wind-buffeting ride and the interior, though smart, is starting to show its age with some ancient-looking switchgear. There's no getting away from the fact that it's expensive to buy, either and it won't be cheap to run. But if you can afford one, the new Discovery 4 is a fine choice of country chic.

The knowledge

Model: Land Rover Discovery SDV6 HSE
Price: £53,750
Engine: 3.0-litre, turbocharged diesel
Power: 253bhp, 600Nm
Max speed: 112mph
0-60mph: 8.8s
MPG: 36.2
Emissions: 213g/km