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Used car focus: Land Rover Discovery (1998-2004)

Discovery’s got two sorts of reputations, and both are deserved. The first is for being a go-anywhere, do-anything 4x4, happy to tackle, snow mud and desert.

The other’s not so marketing-friendly: patchy build quality, poor reliability and all-over rust. But the model from 1998 (with major revisions again in May 2002) was a big improvement, with better electronics, more powerful engines and improved safety.


The Discovery is halfway between a real working vehicle and posh Range Rover, a formula that’s impressed buyers. It has kept values up – base-spec 4.0 V8s still retail for upwards of £7000 (on a 98/S); diesels make around £1,000-£1,500 more.

Seven-seat and automatic models are the most sought after. Seven-seaters tend to fetch around £700-900 more than five-seaters and autos carry a premium of up to £1,000.

Driving performance

Active Control Enhancement (ACE) suspension is standard on XS and ES, optional on others, for stable body control.

Drivers used to something a bit smaller will find the car a bit cumbersome for parking and manoeuvring. But it gives a good balance between off-road ability and on-road refinement.


Front and rear passengers sit high up, but the driving position isn’t perfect – a narrow windscreen and chunky A-pillars mean that visibility is restricted. But the cabin has got an attractive – if functional – look to it and the seats are supportive.

Rear legroom is restricted and the sixth and seventh seats are side facing (as opposed to forward-facing in modern MPVS), so space is tight.


The 184bhp V8i is well suited to Discovery’s heavy body and doesn’t disappoint, in terms of performance. But it’s very thirsty with a combined fuel consumption figure of 17mpg.

Nine out of 10 buyers go for the 137bhp Td5. It’s slower than the petrol, but gives around 30mpg.


Discovery has never been Euro NCAP crash tested. Although it has ABS (with electronic brakeforce distribution on later models and twin airbags), it’s an old design. The smaller, more modern Freelander gets three stars – Discovery isn’t likely to be any different.

Security is better with both perimetric and volumetric alarm systems and remote central locking. It’s a steal-to-order favourite, so some owners may even have fitted a tracking system.

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