Last year we tested the $126,900 high spec Land Rover Discovery HSE TdV6 and found it to be a pretty impressive bit of kit. This year we have the opportunity to test the new limited edition Land Rover Discovery Td6 S Pioneer Edition, which is the first Discovery available on the market for under $100K, at $99,990.

The Range

The Discovery normally comes in three levels; the SE, HSE and HSE Luxury. And within each of these spec levels, you have the option of petrol or diesel. The limited edition S Pioneer sits below all of the normal variants without any trim level selection.

The Discovery S is available from $99,990, the SE is available from $114,900, the HSE is available from $126,900 and the HSE Luxury is available at $136,900. The range of options seems endless, so if you’re really keen, go and check out the Land Rover website. I will cover the engines, and the spec of the model we are testing.

The Discovery has two engine specs available; the SE, HSE and HSE Luxury are fitted with either the 3.0L supercharged V6 petrol or the 3.0L turbo V6 diesel engines. The S Pioneer only comes with the 3.0L turbo V6 diesel engine. Regardless of the engine, they are paired with a 4WD drivetrain, and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The petrol puts out 250kW of power and 450Nm of torque while the diesel puts out 190kW and 600Nm. The petrol has a combined fuel rating of 10.9 l/100km and the diesel 7.5 l/100km.

The S model we tested is targeted toward the adventurers, who are looking for the latest in offroad tech without any of the fancy toys or options. Unlike the HSE we tested last year, the S is more like a diet version. It comes with fabric seats and a basic interior trim level, 10″ Touch Pro Infotainment Screen, Bluetooth, electric tailgate, 19 inch alloy wheels, Land Rover sound system 80W with 6 speakers, electronic air Suspension, twin-speed gear-box, tow hitch and electrics, and roof rails.

To get the price down, they have removed a few standard items or frills like keyless entry, electric seats, heated seats, electrically adjusted steering wheel, LED headlights, auto dimming rear view mirrors and the additional storage solutions found above the glove box and in the centre console.

First Impressions

If it looks like it a Discovery, and smells like a Discovery, it’s probably a Discovery. The Td6 S Pioneer Edition looks no different to any of the other Discovery variants available. From the outside it still looks like it commands a high price point and the elevated class image that Land Rover and Range Rover are stereotyped for. Even the 19 inch wheels do not cheapen or downgrade the overall look of this Discovery.

Much like the HSE I tested last year, the new shape is not my cup of tea as I do prefer the boxy look of the Discovery 4. My only real gripe is with the rear, its new rounded corners and unimaginative rear end, which is just a bit dull and boring. The rest of the vehicle looks pretty modern and most people agreed, saying the new look grew on them over time.

The Inside

The inside of this budget Discovery is still a really nice place to be. Budget is a harsh way to describe it, but that’s what it is. What’s more important, is that nothing feels budget. It’s just had some first-world options removed. Right away you feel the space, and notice again how big this vehicle is. The driver’s seat covered in fabric is still very nice, really comfy and supportive. It does not have the adjustable controls you might expect, but it does the job very well. It took no time at all to become comfy and ready to trek all over New Zealand. And the same could be said about all the other seats – no complaints from any of the passengers.

The seating position is great, from what Land Rover call the Command View, you have great visibility of the environment around you, which would be a blessing when off-roading.

Most of the controls around the cabin are as described, however the functions on the steering wheel were not as ergonomic as I would have liked. When you thought the direction on the toggles would do one thing, it did something else. I am sure I would get used to this with time. I think I would have prefered a scroll wheel than the direction toggle setup they have.

For storage space the S has lost out on a few of the additional options available in the HSE. The second glove box, in the dash behind the aircon control and in the the centre console under the cup holders. It’s a shame that these items have been removed, I suspect the space for them are not being used, while being inaccessible. It’s something that an adventurer would have found very handy indeed.

The back is spacious too, and even in the very back row, the seats are better then expected. They look just like the other seats, which is great. Unlike the HSE where everything was electric, the front, second and third row are all manually operated.

The boot is pretty epic too, when the third row is down you have 1137 litres of space, and with the second row down, this more than doubles to 2406 litres. It’s so much space, that it makes you wonder how it even fits on the road. The tailgate (also electric) does not have the tailgate plinth from other models. Again this handy feature was not really missed, as the rear of the boot was still used to sit on from time to time during the time we had it.

From the back of this SUV when the electric tailgate is open you can also raise and lower the air suspension, making it easier to get stuff in and out of it, depending on the gradient of the ground or height of the person using it. One final thing with the rear door; if you’re tall like me you will notice how the corners of the door curve down into a very sharp point. I was lucky enough not to hit my head on this during the test, as it was just below head height for me. But if you do, you won’t soon forget it. I imagine you could be left with a bit of an injury, as those corners are very sharp.

The Touch Pro Infotainment screen was pretty good, it didn’t feel like it was missing anything, offering a central menu for navigation, phone, media and bluetooth. There were also menu buttons for the parking sensors, rear view camera and the offroad information. In the offroad info you have a selection of displays, wheel information, slope information, vehicle height and hill descent. Each of these menus give you real time info on the ever changing ground under the vehicle. This is where you can really see the money has been spent, making it a hugely capable offroad machine. However if you never need to go offroad, you may find other brands offer better value for money in the 7-seat SUV market.

The Drive

Where to start; once inside and after starting the engine, you notice the vehicle begin to rise, the air suspension is moving into one of its three different height settings. When off, it sits at its lowest, which is 40mm lower than normal driving height. If you want to switch to off-road, the vehicle will lift 40mm above the normal drive height giving you increased ground clearance and approach angles.

When you are in the normal driving mode, you can’t help but feel like you are king of the world, sitting up here on your throne. It’s a really great and somewhat commanding position, which gives you impressive visibility all around the vehicle. This gives you great confidence around the city, as the Discovery is a big unit. But I never found myself concerned about its size, even in tight carparks, finding it very easy to navigate around in.

On the open road, the Discovery is like a cloud. And to be honest, it’s a lot smoother than I expected it to be. This will be due to the air suspension and 2-ton weight of the vehicle, which helps to smooth and dampen out any upset in the road ahead. Steering is very light at all speeds, and makes you quickly forget how big the Discovery is. Sometimes I would forget, and then when seated the same height with a light truck driver, it would hit me again. This thing is a beast.

The S Pioneer Edition gets the same engine diesel available across the range . The power was also a welcome surprise. The 3.0L twin turbo V6 diesel creates 190kW of power and 600Nm of torque. You can’t help but love all that torque, as it really lifts this vehicle up and pushes it so well down the road. The market has plenty of SUV’s, many have engines that are too small, and some have engines that are too impractical, but awesome. The Discovery had a really great balance, of the right amount of power for the vehicle’s character. Enough to get you going without any lag, but not enough for you to ruin the luxury experience of driving a Discovery.  

The efficiency of the engine was impressive, this diesel was advertised at 7.5L per 100km. I drove over 900km on a single 77-litre tank and still found that there was another 140km to go when I dropped it off. Over all the different conditions I was able to get a combined rating of 9.1L per 100km.

The S or Sport mode available on the gear selection dial was a nice touch. It’s not your normal sports mode, especially for a large SUV. I noticed when I selected this mode, the engine itself would not change as dramatically as other vehicles might have. It was a little bit more responsive, which was nice, however as we already had 600Nm, it never lacked power to begin with. Where I noticed the most change in the S mode, was the suspension. The cloud like feeling had been tightened down, more so in the lateral left to right sway of the vehicle when going around corners. This meant you can now keep the power on with the confidence that it was stuck to the road. And in the corners, it was dead flat, so much so that it felt more like a car then a taller SUV. Now that’s impressive for such a big truck.

What it’s up against

The large adventurer SUV market is a niche one, there are not many who would look for a vehicle around $100k to use for heavy offroading. With New Zealand’s strong second hand market, many lean towards vehicles with a few k’s and then spend the extra money on upgrades.

In terms of its offroad ability, there is not much out there that can match it like for like, apart from another Land Rover, or maybe a Jeep. However if offroad features are not your thing and you want a large 7-seat SUV, the Volvo puts up a pretty good battle in both size and value.

Large Diesel 7 Seater SUVs

Brand / Model Engine Power Kw/Nm Fuel L/100km Combined Boot Capacity Litres Price Highest to Lowest
Audi Q7 V6 TDI 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel 160 / 500 5.8 770 / 1955 $117,400
BMW X5 xDrive 25d 2.0L i4 Turbo Diesel 170 / 500 5.6 770 / 1955 $111,950
Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel 184 / 570 7.5 782 / 1554 $106,990
Volvo XC90 2.0 I4 common-rail twin-turbo diesel 177 / 480 5.7 1102 / 1951 $104,900
Land Rover Discovery Pioneer Edition 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel 190 / 600 7.5 1137 / 2406 $99,990
Toyota Land Cruiser Prado VX Limited 2.8L I4 common-rail twin-turbodiesel 130 / 450 8.0 553 / 1143 $91,990
Ford Everest Titanium 3.L Common-rail turbodiesel 143 / 470 8.5 1050 / 2010 $87,990

Pros Cons
  • Front and Side, modern design
  • Great handling, easy to drive
  • Hard wearing & quality Interior
  • Massive 7-seat SUV
  • Heaps of storage
  • Touch Pro 10” HD media display
  • Easy to use offroad controls
  • Massive flat boot with all seats down
  • Easy to drive
  • Command Drive position
  • Rear door corners unsafe for tall people when open
  • No keyless entry
  • Bland rear design

What do we think?

At first I was a bit put off by the idea of this no frills variant, but after spending time with it, I grew to really like it. If there was only one thing I would change or add as an option, it’s the keyless entry. That is the only thing I really missed, everything else I can live without and most of the time never even noticed the rest was gone.

This may also appeal to people looking at getting into a big 7-seater SUV. At around $100k this special edition is an enticing option against other products available in the market. It might make customers think twice about the chance to get behind the wheel of a Land Rover.

If you’re looking for the latest bit of kit and you want to take it way outside the box of the city to get it dirty. The Discovery Td6 S Pioneer Edition might be what you’re looking for, with class leading offroad technology, comfort and endless space for luggage, what’s not to like?

Rating – Chevron rating 4.5 out of 5

drivelife car review chevrons four and half

2018 Land Rover Discovery Td6 S Pioneer Edition

Vehicle Type 4WD large 7-seat SUV
Starting Price $99,990
Tested Price $99,990
Engine 3.0L V6 turbo diesel
Transmission 8-speed automatic transmission
Kerb Weight 2298 kg
Length x Width x Height 4970 x 2220 x 1893 mm
Cargo Capacity 1137 litres/2406 litres
Fuel Tank 54 litres
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.5 L / 100km

Real World Test – Combined – 9.1 L / 100km

Warranty New Vehicle Limited Warranty of 3 years
ANCAP Safety Ratings 5 Stars


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John Galvin (JSG)
It started at a young age with bedroom posters, the Countach of course. This slowly grew into a super car die-cast model collection, fifty five 1:18 models at the last count. At which point it had almost taken full control, the incurable Mad Car Disease ran deep though my veins all the way to the bone. And things for my loved ones just got worse as the cars where now being bought at 1:1 scale, after a BMW, HSV, and couple of Audi's, the disease reached my brain, pushing me over the edge and down the rabbits hole into the world of the bedroom poster.


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