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Road test: Land Rover Discovery Commercial

All-terrain access and towing ability doesn’t get much more comfortable than a Discovery, says Dan Gilkes.

Okay, let’s discuss the obvious elephant in the room first. This Land Rover Discovery Commercial has a list price of more than £45,000. With options and VAT, it comes in at just under £60,000! That’s a lot of money for a two-seat van that can carry about 650kg, even if it does have the ability to tow 3.5-tonnes over almost any terrain.

There are 4×4 pickups with a similar list price though, so the big Land Rover is certainly not alone. For company directors that need occasional off-road access and who don’t require back seats, it also offers a very tax efficient way into the Discovery’s driving seat.

If this was an SUV, a company driver could expect a Benefit-in-Kind value of £19,532. That means a 40% tax payer would face a hefty annual bill of £7,813. As a commercial vehicle, the Discovery has a fixed BiK rate of £3,430 a year. That’s just £114 a month for a 40% tax payer, while the company gets to recover more than £9,000 of VAT.

If it fits your needs, the Commercial follows the usual format for conversion from an SUV to a load-hauling LCV. The back seats have been removed and solid blanks fill the rear side windows. A sturdy load platform has been installed, with a mesh-topped bulkhead to protect front seat occupants. This leaves some space behind the seats for wet weather gear, while there is a full width storage cubby beneath the load platform.

The payload is in line with competitors from Toyota and Mitsubishi, though the towing capacity is ahead of both Land Cruiser and Shogun Sport vans. The Land Rover also comes with constant all-wheel drive and air suspension.

The Commercial is available in S, SE and HSE trim levels and this mid-range SE is very luxurious. The other choice for buyers is between this 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel or a 3.0-litre V6. Both drive through a silky-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 2.0-litre certainly makes a convincing case for itself. It kicks out a powerful 240hp, with a very healthy 430Nm of torque. The V6 tops that with 306hp, but unless you are constantly towing at full weight, the four-cylinder has more than enough power for everyday use.

It delivers remarkable fuel economy, given the 2.2-tonne weight of the van, returning a realistic low to mid-30s in mixed use. Plus, if you need to get a move on, performance is far from pedestrian.

The Commercial also comes with enviable off-road credentials, that Land Rover had improved upon, with the option of an Advanced Off-Road Capability Pack (£1,125) and an Active Locking Rear Differential (£1,060).

The Discovery Commercial is never going to be a big seller, though it does offer a different proposition to many competitors. Indeed, its biggest competition will probably come from in-house later this year, when Defender returns with all of the ability and a lower entry cost.

The Verdict

The Discovery Commercial makes a cracking 4×4 van with exceptional on and off-road performance, at a price.

Fleet rating: 4/5

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Written by Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.

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