Land Rover LR4 Discovery 4 TDV6 3.0

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Land Rover LR4 Discovery 4 TDV6 3.0

4 X 4 - Four Wheel Drive (4x4) - 6 Speed Commandshift Automatic Gearbox - Petrol

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Review of "Land Rover LR4 Discovery 4 TDV6 3.0"

published 06/07/2012 | RICHADA
Member since : 20/06/2004
Reviews : 368
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About me :
If my reviews entertain, amuse or brighten your moment in any way, then my task is done! ++ I will return, but my current workload keeps me away currently. ++
Pro Ability. Accommodation. Comfort. Refinement. Ride.
Cons Costs. Bulk.
Value for Money
Road Handling
Fuel consumption


Handsome in black, not as big as it looks.

Handsome in black, not as big as it looks.


It is quite probably(!) the best 4X4 by far - as Land Rover would indeed have marketed it in days of old. The observant will notice that the badging here reads Land Rover as opposed to Range Rover and that is to deliberately differentiate the two brands – Land Rover in this case being a working vehicle rather than, Range Rover, the luxury one. From personal experience over the years with these vehicles, I have to say that the roles between the Range Rover and Discovery have become increasingly blurred – to the extent that driving this particular, rather plush, Discovery, the thought was going through my mind that a very much more (£20,000) expensive Range Rover could be regarded as a bit of an extravagant irrelevance......

......The Discovery is a large, seven seat, permanent, four wheel drive car with genuine “go anywhere” or “all terrain” capability – in this respect it is far more capable than at least 90% of its owners or drivers. It tends to appear rather more frequently on the slightly posher end school run than at the top of mountains, although thanks to its barn like interior proportions, for those who can afford to run it, this would undoubtedly prove a superb family car – better in many respects, thanks to the extra two seats, than any Range Rover.

Those like me, able to remember the launch of the original Land Rover Discovery, almost twenty years ago, will need to put behind them all notions of the shoddy build quality and unreliability of that car, Land Rover are a very different company now selling into an altogether more demanding and sophisticated market. The original Discovery only truly had one competitor – the Toyota Land Cruiser, that model still being a fearsome rival, others, mostly Japanese have come and gone in the meantime.

Quite logically, the LR4 badging refers to this as being the fourth mark or series of Discovery, fondly referred to as the “Disco” by fans, each model has successively improved massively on the last, the LR4 reviewed here being one highly sophisticated product.

Incidentally, should you (very wisely) be considering a second hand one of these, the Discovery 4 has been on the market since August 2009, only a minor face lift and engine and gearbox revisions being made since that time. All Discovery 4 models have only been available with an automatic gearbox.

It may be inappropriate to shout about it here, but whilst the marque is owned by Tata, the Indian steel giant, Land Rovers are very much English products being designed, engineered and built here – a fact that we should all be proud of bearing in mind their current world-wide popularity.


Unless your garage happens to be a barn, I seriously doubt it!

The Discovery is 1841mm high when fitted with roof bars, which they all seem to be, whilst just over 6 feet tall may not sound high – for a car it certainly is – you will not be able to wash it without the aid of a step ladder for instance. This is also a consideration if you use multi-storey car parks. I was behind a Disco once, jammed firmly under the entrance to the Brighton Marina multi-storey, the damage to the car was considerable.

Width is going to be the second consideration, with the mirrors folded the Discovery 4 is a portly 2022mm (79.6ins), in the more usual folded out driving mode the Discovery is a very wide 2176mm (85.7ins).

In terms of length, at 4829mm, the Disco is shorter than a 5 Series BMW (4899mm & 2094 wide with the mirrors folded out) which makes it easier to park than you would initially expect.

Weight does not often get a mention in a RICHADA car review – for most it is an irrelevance, but, with the Discovery 4 tipping the scales at 2583kg unladen, this will be important if the bridge at the bottom of the lane where you live has a GVW (gross vehicle weight) of 2.5 tonnes!


During recent years Land Rover have radically simplified the range of Discovery models on offer. Mechanically, all are now powered by a 255bhp, 3.0 V6 diesel (hence the TDV6 badge) which is mated to an eight speed automatic gearbox – both engine and gearbox being shared with the 3.0, diesel, Jaguar XF.

Buying a new Discovery today, you are faced with a choice of three different trim and equipment levels, from the very fully furnished £38,825 GS model, through the £41,150 XS to the all singing, all dancing £52,450 HSE. There is also a Commercial (van) variant offered with a de-tuned, 210bhp 3.0 V6 engine at £34,455 – this offers similar specification to the GS, but with the rear cabin stripped of seats and ready for business.

The car that I am reviewing here is the range topping HSE, which in terms of equipment and luxury, but not price, is heading firmly into Range Rover territory.


This is not my own car, but a Land Rover Fleet demonstrator.

One of my professional roles is that of Fleet Manager, which, annually, gets me an invite to the excellent Company Car in Action event at the Millbrook Proving ground in Bedfordshire. Whilst I appreciate that there are some who do not feel that a proper review can be written without owning a car for a considerable period of time, I have for twenty years been visiting this extremely comprehensive test facility and have driven and assessed several hundred cars there during that time. From my own experience I know that a more objective review can be written of a car that one does NOT own. There is no onus on the writer to justify their, quite possibly emotive, purchase to themselves and the rest of the world when a review is written in such a way.


No modern Land Rover product is going to be a cheap option to purchase or run. Having said that, at least a current model Discovery is going to prove class competitive, which, partially causing the early model’s poor reputation, was not always the case. Many owners of early mark 1 and 2 Discoveries had their fingers well and truly burned financially.


I regard £52,420 as an awful lot of money for a Discovery, but then I am old enough to remember the 1970 Range Rover being launched at a fraction under £2000, a Rolls Royce at the time was around £2500.

The HSE, unless second hand, is hardly the most sensible Discovery model, being mechanically identical, the two less extravagant models offer much better value. However this is a very fully equipped car and you are only going to add options if you have specific requirements such as towing, which most of these cars seem to be used for at some stage......


Or “How much do I need to spend to make it habitable?”

To make it habitable, £85 on a set of carpet mats. The Discovery being something of an active lifestyle vehicle, most owners are likely to add towing packs of some kind and, probably, roof bars and a storage system. These types of options I would not expect to be standard on any car, even a Land Rover, as different owners put such cars to entirely different uses.


Always the biggest running cost.

A big, heavy, expensive car is going to lose plenty of money on first ownership. That said, thanks to Land Rover’s good standing and the desirability of these cars when two to three year old, average mileage, HSE Discoveries, are fetching around £37,000 at Land Rover dealers. That represents an approximate 30% loss in value, which is acceptable in comparison to similarly priced ‘ordinary’ cars.

Whilst the eight speed gearbox introduced for 2012 is highly desirable, my recommendation, unless funded by your employer, would still be to seek out a second hand one, two years old with one year left to run under manufacturers guarantee – but such a specialist vehicle needs to be purchased from a franchised dealer or specialist. These cars are not totally bombproof and one just out of guarantee that has been severely mistreated will prove a bankrupting money pit.


Surprised? I was! Millbrook Proving Ground is a great way to burn lots of fuel, The Hill, or Alpine route as it is sometimes referred to, is full of hairpin bends, steep hills and descents, all of which are entirely counter-productive as far as fuel economy is concerned. Even economical 1500kg cars struggle to much better 20mpg here in my experience – a two cylinder Fiat Panda will not crack 30mpg, and yet, this 2600kg leviathan had 23.7mpg on its trip computer when I returned it to the Land Rover paddock.

I take trip computer read outs with a pinch of salt, so referred first to the notoriously inaccurate government average figure – 32.1mpg – surely not! Finally I picked up this month’s copy of “What Car” – my goodness, they really are quoting a real world fuel consumption of 30.7mpg for this enormous 4x4! No wonder the 3.0 diesel is the only engine option.

That being the case, a typical owner should be able to better 30mpg overall – a fantastic achievement for such a big, four wheel drive, car.


Are you going to make the dealer rich?

To give you an approximate idea of costs here, the following schedule is quoted for servicing this exact model by one of my own local Land Rover dealers; Harwoods of Pulborough:
First Service: 15,000 miles or 1 year - £302
Second Service: 30,000 miles or 2 years - £487
Third Service: 45,000 miles or 3 years - £302
Fourth Service: 60,000 miles or 4 years - £487

Compared to servicing other cars of similar initial value, these charges appear surprisingly competitive. There are also plenty of Land Rover specialists around the country who, in all probability, will serve you just as well and charge you less, especially after the three year warranty period expires.

Less is a relative term of course, this is a vastly complex and technically complicated car, whilst the engines and gearboxes are far stronger than the average motorist requires, those who take their Discos off road, if inexperienced, can cause considerable damage, particularly to the transmission, inevitably, this will be very expensive to repair.

Let the “fun” begin! You want to know what this car is like to live with and to drive and be driven in…….


STYLING 9 / 10:

A very subjective category here.

Whilst the Discovery, due to its sheer bulk, has its detractors, I am not one of them. To my eyes at least it is uniquely distinctive and at the same time avoids the snobbery attached to the iconic Range Rover. Over the years the original Discovery shape has evolved into a classic modern design offering a style that none of its competitors can match.

As you approach the Discovery you realise just how big it is, it looks heavier than a Range Rover, standing outside it, at 5ft 8ins in height I am at eye level with the front seat occupants. Whilst it does not scream “expensive” you can, from the appearance of it, see what you are paying for.

If I have a criticism of the latest Discovery’s styling, it would be that the front end detailing, the lights and radiator grill specifically, have become over detailed and in certain, paler usually, colours look too fussy. The metallic black one that I am reviewing here is, to my eyes at least, the best looking Discovery available. Incidentally there is an unusually comprehensive colour choice – a dozen in all – mostly metallic finishes.


Does it look as though it was slung together?

At last the Discovery has a build quality commensurate with its price. Tatty, ill-finished Discos would appear to be a thing of the past and the example that I am reviewing here certainly impressed on this score.

Always over-engineered to take a pounding off road, Land Rover have now gentrified the Discovery to the point that someone swapping a BMW, Audi or even Lexus for one, is not going to raise issues over the paint finish or door shut lines.

SAFETY 10 / 10:

If it comes to the worst, how well are you and your family going to come out of it?

Anyone who has driven a Range Rover or Discovery over the last five years or so would tell you the same thing; there is no car on the road that gives you, as a driver, or passenger, a greater feeling of security. Being an engineer and automotive enthusiast, I know something about the engineering and materials that have gone into the massively built “double” chassis on this car – it is the reason that it weighs so much. If you are going to crash then this is THE car to crash in!

Having said that, so safe is the handling, so sophisticated the traction control and various off road driving mode settings, you would have to do something pretty ridiculous to crash it in the first place.



Before I can start the engine and drive away I need to feel at home in the “working environment”. The relationship between the controls and how I, the driver, am able to instinctively operate those controls is, all important. This for me is make or break, before I drive a car, if it does not instinctively “feel” right in this department then I will never like it or ultimately buy it.

Having so much equipment, the HSE has a lot of controls. However, it is in this area that I really prefer it to the Range Rover; the controls are laid out in a much simpler and more intuitive way in the Discovery. I did not feel the need for an evening with the hand book before simply starting the engine.

The controls you really need are exactly where you expect to find them – those that you do not need you can read about in the hand book. The primary controls all work with an expensively well oiled precision that you only find in the best cars, this does not feel a heavy car to drive – merely a very well engineered one.


Any criticisms that could be levelled at the Discovery’s visibility – and it would only be to the rear and rear three quarter, due to the height of the rear window line – is taken care of in the HSE model by its 360 degree camera system. I did not count them, but, apparently five cameras are positioned around the car, giving you a fabulous 3D image on the large screen in the centre of the dashboard. Once you overcome initial reservations about trusting in such technology, reverse parking becomes an absolute piece of cake in this huge car.

For ordinary driving, no car can touch the forward and side visibility provided by the Discovery’s superb driving position. Cleverly you do not feel as though you are sitting on top of the car, you only realise how high up you are when you realise that you are looking down onto the roof of the Fiesta in front of you – the Disco’s bonnet being almost at the same height as that roof! That same bonnet, as with the Range Rover, has slightly raised creases on its leading edge – this is a terrific aid to positioning the car in traffic and threading it through narrow gaps.

One feature appreciated on Land Rovers these days are the excellent door mirrors, yes, they are very big, but they afford better rearward visibility than in any other car that I have ever driven. In addition to the mirrors, windscreen wipers front and rear both sweep far more of the screens than in an “ordinary” car too. There was a time when I laughed at people using such cars in crowded cities, having now driven both Range Rover and Discovery, I can well understand WHY they are such a pleasure to drive in traffic.

SPACE: 10 / 10:

Quite simply you are not going to find a bigger car inside. My wife looked behind her from the passenger seat and was surprised to see five full sized seats in the back. Unlike the original Discovery which had side facing fold down jump seats, these latest models have three proper rows of seats. They can be folded down in any combination, offering an ever more vast load space.

Up front, as the driver, you do not feel intimidated by the excess space as the cockpit actually manages to envelop you; the central console is quite high and wide. Very quickly after setting off, you simply do not register that this is such a large car, unlike in the much smaller (but just as wide) Range Rover Evoque, you are not constantly aware of the width of the car either.

STYLE 9 / 10:

Land Rover probably will not thank me for saying this, but I actually prefer the interior style of the Discovery to the more plutocratic Range Rover. The overall interior image is one of chunky functionality, only when you take a more detailed look do you realise just how many features, switches, knobs and buttons have been designed into it.


Aspreys or Ratners?

If your impression of Land Rover is one of canvas roofs and daylight showing around the doors, then the 2012 model Discovery is going to feel totally alien to you.

Land Rover have undoubtedly saved their very finest craftsmanship for the Range Rover, for which you pay at least another £20,000. That does not in any way leave you feeling short changed behind the leather clad wheel of the Discovery. Not helping the ambiance in “our” car was the fact that it matched a black exterior finish to an unremittingly black interior. Practical, yes, but the pale leather interior looks so much more expensive and makes the Discovery feel even bigger inside.


As time goes by, the more expensive the car, the more complex the auxiliary controls seem to become and this applies particularly to Land Rovers, which in times of old you would have been lucky to have found a heater in at all.

In the case of the Discovery, the heating controls are completely separate from the “infotainment” system. Simple rotary controls operate the very efficient climate control system – impressively the vast cabin of the Discovery cooled much faster than most of the more conventionally sized cars driven on the day.

The entertainment system (including an iPod interface in the central bin between the seats), telephone, GPS and camera system are all operated via the large touch screen in the centre of the dashboard. This is a system that is surprisingly intuitive and you quickly adjust to using it. However, as with all such complex systems in a car, I would strongly advise performing any set up routines with the vehicle safely at rest.


……Time to start it up and to offer you a driving assessment.


Silk purse or sow’s ear?

I was highly impressed with this engine and gearbox in the much more streamlined Jaguar XF when I drove it last year. That in a different way, it can be even more impressive in this much heavier, four wheel drive vehicle is bordering on the astounding.

Possibly one has an expectation of a diesel engine powering an off-road vehicle, although once you press the start button and drive away in the Discovery, the fact that it IS diesel simply is not an issue. The sheer weight of the car presumably helps to damp any vibration – noise too – but no matter how many revs you are using this car remains as refined as any that I have driven.

You may well have read glowing reports about the latest Discovery’s chassis before, but even having done so I was astounded by how extraordinarily quiet the ride is.

With the aerodynamics of a house brick I was expecting to hear a lot of wind noise at 100mph on the banked circuit, on this blustery day nothing could have been further from the truth......

......definitely a silk purse in this case!


Sh*t off a shovel or a constipated tortoise?

This is not a performance car in any way shape or form. If you are looking for a sports car, Land Rover will never feature on your short list.

Having said that, the superb 3.0 V6 diesel goes about its business in such a way that you are never left feeling in need of more performance. The eight speed automatic gearbox plays an instrumental part in this, in that it is unusually willing to seamlessly change down two or three gears on occasion, making this a deceptively rapid car.

Unlike any other cars that I review, Land Rover products also specialise in an entirely different type of performance, that is, how they drive off road. Unfortunately in motoring terms this is not an area of expertise of mine, sadly I did not get to experience the Discovery on Millbrook’s dedicated off road course.

RIDE & HANDLING 10 / 10:

I have read journalists comment that this is the worlds’ finest riding car; with one carrying such a high centre of gravity I was always dubious about that. In terms of ride there is an age old adage that there is no substitute for weight, bearing that in mind maybe I should have believed what I read. It is very difficult for me (or anyone else come to that) to actually quantify ride, or indeed handling quality. Over the years I have driven many pretty impressive cars both on the road and here at Millbrook, which has specific surfaces designed to test out the ride quality. None have been as good on this score as this particular Land Rover – not even the Range Rover duo (a TDV8 and TDV6 Sport) driven here last year.

On all surfaces and at all speeds the Land Rover Discovery has a simply brilliant ride.

Looking at a new Discovery from the pavement, you would not expect it to handle like a sports car – and sure enough, it doesn’t. However, the handling is incredibly docile – far better indeed than in the considerably more powerful TDV8 Range Rover, which manages to overwhelm its chassis with torque to the extent that the electronic traction control systems can be felt working. Here in the Discovery there were corners that found the traction control light winking at me from the dashboard, Mrs R actually asked what the discreet grinding noise was too – however, behind the wheel its intervention felt so natural as to reassure the driver rather than to alarm.

I was actually most impressed by the lack of body roll (where the car leans over taking corners at speed), certainly in this area it felt far safer, more comfortable AND quicker than the much more expensive Range Rover, which under identical circumstances simply forced me to ease off.


Would I buy one myself and would we want to drive it to Poland in a day?

Yes I would, and, thanks to that genuine 30mpg capability I would relish the experience of an eighteen hour drive to Poland in one.

By any standards and by any comparison, the Land Rover Discovery 4 is a supremely comfortable car to drive, or to be a passenger in. Having experienced the sheer luxury and capability of it, I am well and truly converted and could argue the case for that £50,000+ asking price as offering fine value for money.

Before committing to the purchase of a Range Rover, I would highly recommend a thorough test drive in one of these – in my opinion it is the better of the two cars.

FINAL SCORE: 150 / 170

To save you scouring the list below, that is the highest that any car has scored in one of my reviews, that score, reflecting the sheer desirability of this car.

Putting that score into perspective are the following cars based on identical scoring criteria:

AUDI A4 2.0TFSi SLine – 71.1%
AUDI A6 2.0TDie SE – 74.4%
FIAT 500 1.4 LOUNGE – 68.2%
HONDA ACCORD i-DECT EX GT (2008 Model) Saloon - 69.4%
HONDA CIVIC 1.8i VTEC SE - 78.2%
HONDA JAZZ 1.4 SE CVT-7 (Automatic) - 74.7%
HYUNDAI i20 1.2 COMFORT (2010 model) – 74.7%
KIA PICANTO 1.0GS – 78.8%

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY 4 HSE (2012 Model) – 88.2%

SAAB 9-3 TiD Vector - 68.2%
VW PASSAT TDi 140 S ESTATE - 71.7%

(c) RICHADA CIAO 6.07.2012

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Comments on this review

  • justarube published 22/01/2017
    Good review
  • danielclark691 published 07/12/2015
    great review
  • shellyjaneo published 03/11/2015
    Not one for me but a great review x
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Product Information : Land Rover LR4 Discovery 4 TDV6 3.0

Manufacturer's product description

4 X 4 - Four Wheel Drive (4x4) - 6 Speed Commandshift Automatic Gearbox - Petrol

Product Details

Body Type: 4 X 4

Fuel Type: Petrol

Transmission type: 6 Speed Commandshift Automatic Gearbox

Range: Land Rover Discovery

Driven Wheels: Four Wheel Drive (4x4)

Range + Engine Type: LR4 Discovery 4 TDV6 3.0

Manufacturer: Land Rover


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