Land Rover Discovery 3 TDV6 HSE

Believe it or not, Fidel Castro and I have something in common, and it's not a love of big cigars or an interest in long speeches. It's a lot simpler than that - we are both Land Rover drivers. Fidel's relationship with the brand started in 1959 with a Series I 107 Station Wagon, while mine began with a brush-painted Series IIA in 1995. We both drive a Discovery 3 now, following the delivery of our long-term TDV6.

  • All-conquering looks, practical interior, luxury car refinement, off-road promise
  • Fuel economy, plastic feel to dashboard

Believe it or not, Fidel Castro and I have something in common, and it's not a love of big cigars or an interest in long speeches. It's a lot simpler than that - we are both Land Rover drivers. Fidel's relationship with the brand started in 1959 with a Series I 107 Station Wagon, while mine began with a brush-painted Series IIA in 1995. We both drive a Discovery 3 now, following the delivery of our long-term TDV6. The HSE-spec machine arrived via Stratstone in London's Mayfair, one of Land Rover's most prestigious dealerships. A floor finished with mosaic tiling, branded clothing and specialist adventure gear for more daring drivers serve as useful props for enhancing the car's appeal - while distracting you from its £41,995 price tag. It didn't take me long to realise that Land Rover's newly developed Terrain Response traction control and suspension system - which is ideal for extreme off-roading - is a little over-developed for central London, but there's no escaping the fact that the car is enormously refined. At idle, the 2.7-litre V6 diesel is barely audible, while the absorbent suspension helps the Disco float over rough roads and speed bumps. At low speeds the steering is surprisingly sharp, as are the brakes, but as we headed for the motorway for the first time, it became clear there's no disguising the Land Rover's enormous bulk. At 2,504kg, the new Discovery weighs the same as a Bentley Arnage and three times as much as a Ford Ka. Even with the big, grippy tyres and advanced air-suspension it takes time for the car to respond to driver inputs. Pressing on takes familiarity with its character and confidence in its ability. That's not something which is likely to trouble Fidel, as he's probably busy enjoying the seven-seat interior with a team of advisers and bodyguards. The leather-covered chairs are comfortable, and the three sunroofs give the car an airy feel. Frankly, it's the last word in automotive practicality. But whoever you are, and whatever your financial resource, the big issue of ownership for the Discovery is going to be fuel economy - our car is currently returning a paltry 23.7mpg. It should improve, but even if we can afford it, does that mean we should accept it? Hopefully I'll have worked the compromise out by the next report. Dan Strong Second Opinion There's no doubt that it takes time to get used to the Discovery's asymmetrical styling, and without a spare wheel on the rear hatch, the car looks as though it's missing something. I love the Harman/Kardon Logic 7 audio system though, and the seats are really comfortable. However, I can't help wishing the engine had a bit more power to cope with the weight. Stuart Morton, chief sub-editor

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