NEARING THE END OF ITS LIFE, LAND ROVER’S DISCOVERY REMAINS THE BENCHMARK IN SO MANY WAYS.
LIKE a number of vehicles in the Dirty Dozen, the Discovery is a former 4X4 Of The Year winner. In fact, the Discovery has been a habitual 4X4OTY winner, the last time when the TDV6 you see here was released in 2012. Back then it was called Discovery 4 – now it’s just called Discovery to distinguish it from the Discovery Sport, effectively a thirdgeneration Freelander.
Either way, the TDV6 is the latest iteration of a vehicle line that goes back some 13 years to the original Discovery 3 (the 4 being just a development of the D3’s basic platform).
The TDV6 is the entry model in the Discovery line-up and is comfortably the pick of the range for a number of reasons. First up, just about all the features that don’t come standard with the TDV6 can be added as options, with only a handful of high-end entertainment options unavailable, including rear DVD and digital TV.
Most importantly you can add leather, thirdrow seats, sat-nav and a rear auto-locking differential, among other options – most of which are standard on the more expensive SDV6.
The SDV6 also comes with a more powerful version of the Discovery’s 3.0-litre bi-turbo-diesel V6, which offers 183kw and 600Nm versus 155kw and 520Nm for the TDV6.
But here’s the rub: the SDV6 and the TDV6 engines are mechanically identical and only differ in tuning software. A Land Rover dealer isn’t about to do the tune-up for you, and they’ll probably say it will void your warranty. However, it can be done – and it’s not hard. Plus, you’re not tuning the engine beyond what it’s designed for – something that’s not the case with most diesel engine upgrades. Either way, the low-tune engine mates beautifully to the slick ZF eightspeed gearbox to produce a relaxed, adequately powerful and refined powertrain.
Unlike the Prado and 200 Series, the Discovery has height-adjustable air spring suspension, so it’s relatively low on-road ride height doesn’t compromise off-road clearance and vice versa. In fact, the Discovery works beautifully both on- and off-road. However, the rear-locker option is a must for anyone who wants to fully utilise their Discovery’s off-road potential.
Complementing the Discovery’s broad spectrum of on- and off-road capabilities is its big, space-efficient cabin that remains a standard-setter in functionality.
As ever, the Discovery’s small fuel capacity and wheel and tyre spec are practical shortcomings. The former can be addressed relatively easily, the latter not so. But still, the Discovery is a great 4x4. Let’s hope its replacement due next year is at least as good.