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Less is more

New models: Land Rover Discovery XS. Many old-school off-roaders consider contemporary SUVs to be too expensive, too complicated, and too heavy. Too everything, in fact. Whatever your views on the subject, what’s indisputably true is that every time a new model breaks cover, it’s invariably more expensive, more complicated, and more weighty than its predecessor.

Which is precisely why the new Land Rover Discovery XS is such a breath of fresh air in the SUV category: it’s none of those things. Ostensibly, the XS has been launched to provide Discoverylovers with an ‘expedition-ready’ machine – but the cynics amongst us might argue that it’s merely a ruse to allow Land Rover to extend the brand’s footprint into a more affordable, and thus more buoyant, sector of the SUV market.

Whatever the motivation, this is a vehicle born of omission. So you can wave goodbye to the air suspension, the sunroof, the electric seat adjustment, the terrain response, that third row, and the leather upholstery. You can also bid farewell to 28 kW – the 3.0-litre TDV6 motor has been detuned to a ‘mere’ 155 kW in order to match power with smaller stopping pots. Why the smaller brake callipers? Well, 18” rims are standard on this model. That welcome news is slightly offset by the fitment of tar-biased Pirelli Scorpion Zero tyres – a strange choice of rubber.

Doing away with the Disco’s famed air suspension sees the fitment of coilspring suspension all round, which provides for ground clearance of 185 mm: another figure likely to raise eyebrows amongst the expedition set. But what’s also notable is what you don’t lose. The XS boasts items like climate control, cruise control, a cooled centrearmrest compartment, a standard fit towbar and Trailer Stability Assist, and the famous super-smooth 8-speed auto box. This last mentioned item deserves special mention, as it comes with a rotary gear-shift knob, a slightly awkward item whose negative impact is happily diluted by the standard-fit steering-wheel paddles which allow the driver to change gears manually. ..

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