The Discovery might have been the catalyst for Land Rover’s change of image, and fortunes, but it never forgot its workhorse beginnings, as Ian Shaw reports
Land Rover began by making commercial vehicles of course, and has never lost sight of that, despite most of its current models being unashamed luxury cars.
We might not think of the humble working Land Rover as being sophisticated, but when
the One-Ten appeared in 1983 it had permanent four-wheel drive and coil springs; to this day, most Japanese pick-ups have part-time four-wheel drive and all have
leaf springs. The first Discovery commercial variant in 1993 continued this theme. Based on the three-door Discovery, it offered a similar ability off-road as a One-Ten, but with better on-road manners.
A few Discovery mk2 commercials were made, in five- door form by merely removing all but the front two seats and fitting opaque glass to the rear side windows, a recipe that continues into the Discovery 3 and Discovery 4 models we look at here. It’s a simple solution, which also makes the vehicle visually identical to a passenger version with privacy glass. This gives it an air of sophistication but also makes it discreet.
It’s hard to compare the Discovery commercial with another vehicle (perhaps a Mitsubishi Shogun 4Work five-door may be closest – it even has full-time 4X4) because the excellent Jaguar V6 diesel engine and innovative Terrain Response system means it has no direct competitors, which is reflected in its high used prices.
Service history is a must on such a complex LCV as this. Be wary of modified vehicles as larger alloy wheels can play havoc with the independent suspension’s geometry, and don’t be tempted by ‘chipped’ engines with enhanced power – the TDV6 and particularly the SDV6 have plenty of go. Think, too, of long-term reliability: go for as late a model as you can afford, even if it has slightly higher mileage, and check thoroughly underneath for off- road abuse.
Although not subject to a recall, the problems with the Discovery 3’s electronic parking brake are well documented. Poorly protected from mud and water, it can seize, on or off, and the park brake light will fail to extinguish on drive-off. Air-sprung vehicles can give trouble too, usually through stuck valves due to the driver not using the ride height change regularly.
The Discovery 3 and Discovery 4 are not cheap, and the WhatVan. co.uk used van locator reflects this – but as they say, you get what you pay for. At £17,000, what about a 59-plate, early 2010 version with a nice round 100,000 miles on its 2.7-litre TDV6 engine? Or for £25,500, there’s an 11-plate SDV6 Automatic with 80,000 miles under its belt, which is a bit of a price hike, if well-equipped. For a straight £30k you could have a 2012 TDV6 with only 21,000 miles behind it, or for about the same outlay, an SDV6 in XS trim with 26,000 miles elapsed. Finally, not for the faint- hearted, a 13-plate SDV6 255hp automatic with less than 30,000 miles – yours for a bit of loose change from £39,000.