DRIVEN: DISCOVERY V PRADO V 200 SERIES
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.