EN­DUR­ING BENCH­MARK

NEAR­ING THE END OF ITS LIFE, LAND ROVER’S DIS­COV­ERY RE­MAINS THE BENCH­MARK IN SO MANY WAYS.

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

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.

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