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Land Rover Discovery SUV (2009-2017) - Engines, drive & performance

Extremely accomplished off-road, the Land Rover Discovery is also very comfortable on it

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

While models such as the BMW X5 and in particular the Porsche Cayenne are designed to offer exemplary on-road performance, Land Rover designed the Discovery with one eye on the car's off-road ability.

Land Rover Discovery diesel engine

If you forget about the performance offered by the top-of-the-range X5s and Cayennes, you're unlikely to be disappointed by the Land Rover Discovery. Its 3.0-litre turbodiesel engine produces 253bhp – enough to get it from 0-62mph in a reasonable 8.8 seconds.

The powerful diesel is more than up to the challenge of moving the SUV and it finds a perfect companion in the car's smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox, which makes driving a car as large as the Discovery as stress-free as possible. Factor in a quiet interior and standard air suspension (which gives the car ride quality to rival a Range Rover's) and this is one extremely comfortable SUV.

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Enter a corner carrying too much speed, though, and things start to unravel a bit. With suspension that's built to absorb harsh off-road surfaces, there's plenty of body lean and the Discovery will run out of grip long before a Porsche Cayenne. Yet its steering is well weighted, precise and confidence-inspiring.

Turn the Land Rover Discovery's Terrain Response dial to your chosen setting, venture off-road and the big SUV's minor on-road shortfalls are quickly forgotten. The suspension that causes lean in corners gives the Land Rover a huge amount of wheel articulation, so its tyres stay in contact with the ground even when tackling a series of deep undulations that would leave an X5's wheel hanging in the air.

Land Rover's Terrain Response system makes the SUV’s hugely complex four-wheel-drive system easy to use, too. Simply choose one of a variety of presets – such as mud, gravel or snow – and the system sets the car up to tackle it. Alternatively, leave it in its automatic setting and it’ll adjust the car based on information from an array of sensors.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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