Land Rover’s all-new Dis­cov­ery is cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy, but how does it com­pare to es­tab­lished 4x4 de­sign prac­tice?


THE ALL-NEW Land Rover Dis­cov­ery is a rare thing, as it’s only the third new-from-the­ground-up Dis­cov­ery in nearly 30 years. In ef­fect this is only the third all­new Dis­cov­ery since the orig­i­nal ap­peared in 1989, given that the first two Dis­cov­er­ies were built off es­sen­tially the same plat­form and Dis­cov­er­ies 3 and 4 then shared what amounts to a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion plat­form.

That evo­lu­tion has seen the Dis­cov­ery de­sign trans­verse the full tech­nol­ogy spec­trum: from an old school sep­a­rate-chas­sis de­sign with live axles at both ends, to a sep­a­rate chas­sis with fully in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion, and now to a mono­coque with full in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion. It’s not just any mono­coque, but a high-tech one built from 85 per cent alu­minium us­ing aero­space de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­niques. This new Land Rover also brings the small­est ever en­gines to power a Dis­cov­ery: a pair of two-litre four-cylin­der diesels, in what is an­other sign of tech­no­log­i­cal evo­lu­tion.

To bench­mark this new Dis­cov­ery we have lined it up against two very tra­di­tional ri­vals in the form of the Land Cruiser 200 and the Land Cruiser 150, bet­ter known as the Prado. In most ways the Dis­cov­ery is more a 200 than a 150 com­peti­tor; al­though, in other ways, it also com­petes against the 150, espe­cially in its lower-priced mod­els. Ei­ther way, hav­ing both Land Cruis­ers here pro­vides two bench­marks that ef­fec­tively ‘book­end’ the Dis­cov­ery.

The Dis­cov­ery is of­fered in a very com­plex 12-model range that spans $66K to $117K – if you leave out the ex­pen­sive lim­ited-run First Edi­tion model that asks $132K. That 12-model range en­com­passes three dif­fer­ent en­gines and sig­nif­i­cant me­chan­i­cal dif­fer­ences given that, among other things, the base four-cylin­der en­gine (Td4) can’t be had with dual-range gear­ing. Only the up-spec four­cylin­der diesel (Sd4) and the V6 (Td6) diesel are avail­able with dual range.

Mean­while, the 200 diesel spans $77K to $120K and the 150 diesel spans $54K to $86K, both of­fered in four dif­fer­ent grades with lit­tle me­chan­i­cal dif­fer­ences aside from sus­pen­sion de­tails.

For this test we would have ide­ally liked a Dis­cov­ery Sd4 S with dual range, air sus­pen­sion and rear-locker op­tions ($76K), or an Sd4 SE which comes with dual range and air sus­pen­sion as stan­dard but op­tioned with a rear locker (so $85K). In­stead we could only get an Sd4 HSE, which starts at $94K. Like­wise, a Prado VX ($74K) would have been ideal as this is the pick of the Prado range, in­stead we could only get the spe­cial-edi­tion Al­ti­tude model based on the vol­ume-sell­ing GXL. How­ever, we had more luck with the 200 and re­ceived the GXL ($88,541) as re­quested; al­though, the op­tional KDSS brings the price to $91,971.

Prado has a pleas­ant driv­ing po­si­tion but a no­tably smaller cabin.

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