Discovery to the 4

by Steve WalkerThere was always something endearing about older Land Rover Discovery models. On virtually any objective calculation, they were way off the pace but the way they managed to triumph over considerable adversity was almost Shackletonesque.

by Steve Walker

There was always something endearing about older Land Rover Discovery models. On virtually any objective calculation, they were way off the pace but the way they managed to triumph over considerable adversity was almost Shackletonesque.


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Fortunately, recent generations of the Discovery haven't needed to rely on the British admiration for stiff upper lips to do well. The Discovery 3 was designed as new from the ground up and boasted enough technology and design savvy to punt rivals clean off the map. The fourth generation car amounts to a wide-ranging collection of revisions intended to keep the Disco on top.

The engines dropped into the Discovery have to cope not only with the car's size but with the disparate range of duties for which it's designed. The entry-level unit is the 2.7-litre twin-turbo V6 diesel which won critical acclaim in the Discovery 3 for its refinement and smoothness, if not its outright performance. Power is rated at 188bhp and torque of 440Nm is achieved at just 1,900rpm but customers who like a Land Rover with some muscle will want the 3.0-litre TDV6 engine on which the marque is pinning big hopes.

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Its faith appears justified, the 3.0-litre unit is a development of the 2.7-litre engine and makes 242bhp but it's the torque that really makes an impact. The engine develops 500Nm just 500 milliseconds from idle which is what the Disco wants for towing or clawing out of deep mud.

Land Rover's styling treads a classy, predictable path - customers wouldn't have it any other way. Today's Discovery has more than a hint of the salubrious Range Rover about its front with the industrial mesh grille and the big square light clusters which now feature LED technology. There are more LEDs at the rear and redesigned bumpers, the front one incorporating a wider air intake to help the 3.0-litre engine breathe. The tall shape is typical Land Rover with those recognisable squared-off lines and clean surfaces but the designers have tried to reduce the overbearing look of the car. Some detailing, particularly the deep groove along the edge of the clamshell bonnet, serves to create a lower, sleeker effect.

Cabin quality has been stepped up at least a couple of notches with improved materials and a simplified control interface. The Terrain Response console now takes pride of place in front of the gear lever and the steering wheel includes controls for numerous functions, reducing the time drivers need to spend with a hand away from the wheel.

Land Rover doesn't make vehicles that are inherently environmentally friendly but the engines in the latest Discovery make the best of a difficult job. The 3.0-litre diesel's more advanced technology helps it eclipse the 2.7-litre's economy and emissions when it's fitted with the automatic gearbox. It returns 30mpg combined with 244g/km emissions.

Most big 4x4s make very little sense if you plan to drive them solely on the road. Most of the time you'd be better served with a decent full-sized saloon or multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) if you need space and great ride quality. The Discovery has been so good it almost warrants recommendation regardless of its ability in the mud but it's when you put it through its paces in properly extreme terrain that the genius in its design becomes apparent.

The latest Discovery 4 version looks stronger than ever.

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY 4

PRICE: �31,995 to �47,695

PERFORMANCE: 3.0 TDV6,

0-60mph 9.0 seconds; top speed 120mph

MPG: 3.0 TDV6, 30mpg combined

EMISSIONS: 3.0 TDV6, 244g/km

INSURANCE GROUPS: 13 and 14

WILL IT FIT IN THE GARAGE: Length 4,835mm; width 1,915mm; height 1,891mm

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