Gone is the Land Rover LR4 in America, replaced with the new Land Rover Discovery (which is what the LR4 was called everywhere else in the world) and it’s a marked improvement over the old car in every single way. Should the BMW X5 be worried about its new competitor from Britain?
Based on the same aluminum-extensive architecture that underpins the current Range Rover, the new Disco is bigger and more spacious than before while also being lighter and stiffer. It also looks quite good, although it has an unusually high and narrow grill that sort of gives it a squished face. Other than that, though, this new Disco is a handsome car with familial looks shared with the current line of Range Rovers. Admittedly, the rugged and boxy good looks of the old Discovery (LR4) will be missed, as there was always a reassuring sense of durability in that car’s looks, but this new car is very sharp.
Inside, things are clearly Range Rover-inspired, as the overall design is so extremely similar to the Range’s. However, there are some tougher looking bits and some more pragmatism built in. For instance, the chunky buttons and extra cubby space make this the more utilitarian choice. It’s still a luxury car on the inside, with tons of rich leather and soft-touch materials but it’s got a practical side as well.
From what we’re hearing, it drives like a proper Land Rover should. It’s soft, smooth and comfortable while still feeling like a truck. Its seating position is high and gives a commanding view of the road and its handling characteristics favor smooth, calmer driving. While its front end is said to be accurate and the steering light, it’s not a tossable car by any means, as its tall body and soft suspension make it roll quite a bit through corners. It clearly emphasizes comfort and rugged off-road ability over performance and dynamics.
And that’s really what the Land Rover Discovery is all about — blending off-road capability with comfort and luxury. In that endeavor, the Disco seems to be a success. Its ride quality is supple and luxurious, almost Range Rover-like, while the interior stays calm and quiet, even at highway speed. Yet, when the Disco goes off the road, it’s as capable as anything on the market. In fact, there’s probably nothing else in its class that can off-road as well the Discovery. But the trade off is that it isn’t the sharpest of handling SUVs on the market.
The BMW X5 is sort of the opposite of the Land Rover Discovery. While the X5 isn’t a great off-roader, it’s the more agile and better handling SUV of the two. For a big, hulking SUV, the BMW X5 actually handles with the capabilities of a much smaller car and is genuinely impressive. The Disco is calmer and more truck-like, by comparison.
So should BMW be worried about its new Land Rover competition? The Disco is said to be a superb SUV, with impressive luxury, good technology and peerless off-road capability. But, being that it’s so different from the BMW X5, will customers cross-shop the two and will the X5 lose sales to the new Land Rover Discovery?