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Land Rover Discovery 3

Award-winning, luxury SUV effectively doubles as an MPV

Land Rover specialises in off-roaders, but that’s not all. The Discovery 3 is one of the most capable 4x4s money can buy, but it also has seven seats. With prices starting from £30,190 it doesn’t come cheap, so does the big SUV give good value for money?

Bluff styling and boxy lines are a trademark of the British brand and perfectly suit the needs of a people carrier. The upright tail of the Disco and vertical sides create huge amounts of space inside. The off-roader is bigger than any of the MPVs in our line-up, but its angular styling maximises interior room, with generous headroom in all three rows of seats.

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Predictably, the car with the highest price tag provides the most comfortable back seats. Occupants in the third row get almost as much legroom as those in the middle, and the full-sized chairs mean even adults will be able to sit comfortably in the very back on long trips. Stadium-style seating and big windows also ensure you get a good view out, wherever you are.

To boost practicality, the extra row stows easily and independently to provide a totally flat load area. The downside is that boot space is cramped with all of the seats in use. Keep them folded and there’s an impressive 1,192  litres of space, but there’s up to 2,558 litres available if you fold the middle row, too.

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However, for the price of our flagship Disco 3 HSE car, you could buy two of the Fiat Doblos tested here. Cabin quality is first rate, while solid switchgear and high equipment levels explain the SUV’s price.

Even entry-spec GS models feature climate control, alloys and rear parking sensors, but get a six-speed manual gearbox instead of the auto fitted higher up the range. Power is from a 2.7-litre V6 diesel, though with our car’s self-shifting gearbox and huge kerbweight, performance is lethargic.

At the test track the Disco took 11.2 seconds to go from 0-60mph with two people on-board. Adding another five makes little difference to performance – with seven passengers it took only 1.2 seconds longer to perform the same sprint.

It also did well in our 70mph braking test, shuddering to a halt in 50.7 metres with two people, and only needed an additional 70cm with all of the seats in use. Handling is ponderous, thanks to its height and weight, but ride comfort and refinement are superb.

The self-levelling air suspension smooths out bumps and, unlike any of the cars in the lower price brackets, the Discovery is excellent off road, too.

Few cars carry seven in as much comfort and even fewer are as capable in the mud, which makes it a talented all-rounder. The price is the biggest stumbling block.

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WHY: The Discovery 3 won the premium SUV award at our New Car Honours last year – but it also has room for seven.

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