Land Rover hones its moves with new Disco

Land Rover hones its moves with new Disco

EVER since Land Rover created its athletic Range Rover Sport, the firm has developed a determined desire to tap into that same rich seam of success once more.

But when I first clapped eyes on the latest generation of Discovery, it seemed that attempts to apply some of the big-selling bling of the Sport onto its more rugged seven-seater might have created something of a styling mish-mash.

The Sport-style mesh grille and clear glass light clusters had applied too much automotive jewellery to a vehicle which is as at home scrambling through fields as it is on the school run. It was as if someone had draped Mr T's medallions around Ray Mears's neck.

Thankfully, the 2010 tweaks run more than skin deep.

New engine, better performance

At the Discovery 4's heart is cleaner and more powerful three-litre V6 turbodiesel engine delivering 242bhp and a thumping 442lb.ft. of torque - 29 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively, up on Land Rover's existing 2.7-litre unit.

A new six-speed adaptive transmission delivers smooth shifts and helps the big Land Rover accelerate to 62mph in 9.6 seconds while returning a claimed 30.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 244g/km.

Land Rover also claim improved on and off-road performance thanks to a series of suspension tweaks, along with an impressive 3.5 tonne towing capability.

A Terrain Response system also optimises gearing, differential lock, suspension settings and traction control for off-roading at the flick of a switch.

Premium finish is near-Range Rover plush

It seems the fashion-conscious farmer is well catered for.

One things for sure, if they drive the range-topping HSE spec Discovery 4 tested here they wont be losing out much to their Range Rover driving pals.

At £49,140, it's £3,250 cheaper than the equivalent RRS and comes loaded with sat nav, heated seats, cruise control, full leather and a stylish and more spacious interior which loses little to the Range Rover in terms of premium finish.

The most rearward of the Discovery's seven seats fold flat into the floor of the 280-litre boot and can be flipped into place with the tug of a strap.

The Discovery's distinctive two-tiered styling means ample head room and reasonable leg accommodation for the new additions.

Top-spec HSE has real class

There's certainly more of the Range Rover than the Land Rover about the latest generation Disco's interior and, with my test car's optional heated steering wheel, surround camera system and remote pre-heating (handy for those chilly winter days)  its up there in the gadget stakes, too.

A similar feeling is maintained out on the road.

Weight-saving efforts and changes to the adaptive air-sprung suspension have lowered the Discovery's centre of gravity and reduced roll through corners and theres no doubting that it feels more wieldy than it used to.

Despite a deep turbocharged roar from low speeds the three-litre diesel engine is extremely refined at a cruise and offers useful reserves of torque for overtaking.

Mud plugger turns mile muncher

For a car with such a lofty stance (the Discovery 4 is more than 10cm taller than an RRS) it corners with remarkable composure, despite the sense that the suspension takes up an initial degree of slack before digging in and turning in to a bend.

The RRS's twin-piston brake system adds urgency to stopping the Discovery. They can fade, however, with persistent use.

All-in-all, the Discovery offers the kind of laid-back, mile-munching comfort that Range Rover fans are accustomed to but is still able to roll its sleeves up and get down to work if needed.

Disco shines

It's quite remarkable how Land Rover's civilised workhorse has polished up its act.

Ultimately, there is little else out there that combines the Discovery's off-road and towing capabilities, seven-seat accommodation and sheer luxurious comfort to quite such good effect.

It seems Land Rover Jaguar are on something of a roll . . .


Related topics: