The best has just got better. Always a Land Rover fan, wheelworldreviews editor DAVID HOOPER gives the latest Discovery 4 a long-distance try out as it tackles a Welsh weekend.
IF this Land Rover isn’t the perfect all-rounder, I’ll eat my wax jacket and my shiny shoes.
Its resplendent Galway Green paintwork and gorgeous almond leather interior are just too smart for a pair of green wellies! This luxurious new Discovery 4 has moved a car that was, in my opinion, already at the top of its game, on to such an extent there is now clear daylight between it, and its host of would-be rivals.
While it is still pretty much the silhouette a five-year-old might draw if you asked a small child to sketch a Land Rover, there is something about it’s design that is difficult to put your finger on.
Perhaps it is the very simplicity of its shape that appeals, the Land Rover logo that is both nostalgic and historic, sitting proudly on the chunky grille, or the knowledge that, despite its classy pretensions, this big Landy can get down and dirty with the best of them. When it comes to mud-slinging, the Disco, despite its many imitators, is a hard act to follow and can go places that would find many similar vehicles wanting.
The Discovery has collected hundreds of awards in its time, but this fourth generation has undergone a substantial makeover which has brought improvements to every aspect of the car, from the ground up.
The most obvious changes are LED lights fore and aft on the outside, and a superb redesign of the interior which has given the car a more upmarket feel, which although still featuring the large knobs and buttons Land Rover fans are accustomed to, and of course the brilliantly simple Terrain Response control, it is now much easier on the eye.
It’s not just the bits you can see that have changed though. The on-road ride and handling are noticably better thanks to revised suspension components, improved steering, larger brakes and better traction control. Although I didn’t take the Discovery off road this time, its superb Terrain Response system, which optimises the vehicle for off-road driving at the twist of a big dial, has also been improved, while the amazingly small turning circle for such a big car was put to use on more than one occasion.
It also boasts a new engine, which impressed with its smoothness, refinement and economy. The LR-TDV6 3.0 twin turbo diesel, the first of its type to be fitted to a V-engine anywhere in the world. Compared to the previous 2.7-litre engine, it delivers a nine per cent improvement in fuel economy on the combined cycle and 10 per cent lower C02 emissions, yet power is up by 29 per cent to 245PS and torque is up by 36% to an incredible 600Nm, which means it will just about tow your house. Horseboxes, caravans and boats can be dragged around with ease.
For a big heavy car, it’s no slouch either, with a 0-62mph time of 9.6 seconds and a potential top speed of 112mph. In the real world it tackles A-roads with ease and will cruise effortlessly at motorway speeds in near silence, with very little wind noise audible inside the cabin. The gear changes from the six-speed auto are almost imperceptible.
My few days with the new Land Rover coincided with a trip to South Wales to visit relatives, and proved a typical test of the car’s wide breadth of abilities.
There was ample room for five adults, each in their individual, very comfortable, leather clad seat. There was even enough room for our ageing dog to snooze in the passenger footwell with space to spare, while the huge boot swallowed various overnight bags, warm coats, blow-up beds and duvets for a bit of indoor camping. Without rear passengers, the middle row seats will fold and tumble forwards to create extra luggage space, while the two front seats have their own arm rests.
The following day, with the contents of the boot emptied into the house, the third row of seats complete with head restraints, were quickly and easily unfolded from the floor of the car, and even these were comfortable for adults after a 90-minute drive to The Mumbles, in Swansea Bay, for a bit of sightseeing.
The outer seats in the middle row were both heated, often a luxury reserved for just the front seat occupants, and while I went off to take some pictures, the optional television entertained the waiting family with the rugby international featuring Wales and Italy, which was taking place just up the road in Cardiff.
There was plenty of other in-car entertainment though. Music was available from the radio, CDs, MP3 and USB connectors, or they could play with the touch-screen sat-nav system, which can also be used for navigating off-road. Passengers can also watch the various cameras that reveal the perimeters of the vehicle, or marvel at the on-screen displays that show the Terrain Response settings and even the steering wheel angle.
During my test of almost 600 miles, the car averaged 29mpg, which, when you consider it was fully laden, is most impressive.
The auto-dipping headlights are also worth a mention as they are something of a rarity in this country, but worked well on the Land Rover. Activated from a menu in the trip computer, the headlights will switch to main beam and back to dipped lights all by themselves as traffic conditions change. The system worked well, switching off the powerful xenon headlights as soon as another vehicle approached. Clever stuff, and something that impressed my passengers greatly.
While in range-topping HSE trim and with an asking price of more than £50,000 by the time the options are included, it’s not a cheap car – but it is a brilliant one.
The Discovery 4 simply oozes class.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
DISCOVERY 4 RANGE: From 2.7 TDV6 GS 5dr (£32,695) to 3.0 TDV6 HSE 5dr (£48,795).
ENGINE: 2,993cc, 245PS V6 engine, driving four wheels through 6-speed automatic gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 244g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 112mph. 0-62mph in 9.6 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 25.2mpg.
Fuel tank: 82.3 litres.
WARRANTY: 3 years/Unlimited mileage.