New Di­rec­tion


4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

OF­TEN in the au­to­mo­tive world, less-so­phis­ti­cated, low­er­cost de­signs are used to cre­ate more ex­pen­sive up­mar­ket mod­els. Far less of­ten the op­po­site is the case, but that’s ex­actly what’s be­hind this all-new Dis­cov­ery, as it’s been devel­oped from Land Rover’s pre­mium plat­form as used in the cur­rent Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. That plat­form – a high-tech alu­minium mono­coque with fully in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion – de­buted just five years ago and came off the back of a huge in­vest­ment by In­dia’s Tata Mo­tors, own­ers of Land Rover since 2008.

The key ben­e­fit of this 85 per cent alu­minium mono­coque, com­pared to the steel sep­a­rate-chas­sis plat­form used with the Dis­cov­ery 3 and 4, is the shed­ding of 480kg, which brings stronger per­for­mance, less fuel use, sharper dynamics and su­pe­rior off-road abil­ity. In­cluded among the non-alu­minium parts are steel sus­pen­sion sub-frames, used for their strength and dura­bil­ity. Those sub-frames carry fully in­de­pen­dent heigh­tad­justable sus­pen­sion (via air springs); al­though, base mod­els come stan­dard with non-ad­justable steel coil springs. THE new Dis­cov­ery comes – at this stage at least – with three diesels, two 2.0-litre In­ge­nium fours and the 3.0-litre V6. The V6, one of few car­ried-over parts from the Dis­cov­ery 4, is slated to be re­placed in a few years time by the new In­ge­nium in-line six.

In the mean­time what we have here is the bi-turbo Sd4, which claims re­mark­able power and torque figures for a 2.0litre diesel, namely 177kw and 500Nm – com­pare that to the 2.8-litre Prado’s 130kw and 450Nm, or even the 200’s 200kw and 650Nm. Look­ing at this an­other way, the 200’s 4.5-litre V8 cranked-up to an iden­ti­cal state of tune as the Dis­cov­ery’s twolitre four would pro­duce 395kw and 1116Nm.

All that sounds good on pa­per, but how does it play out on the road. Well, in a word: as­ton­ish­ing. On the road this just doesn’t feel like a four-cylin­der de­sign and it cer­tainly doesn’t per­form like a four-cylin­der that’s asked to power a large 4x4 wagon. Pedal to the metal it clearly out-per­forms the Prado and gives noth­ing away to the 200 ex­cept on ini­tial urge. The fact the Dis­cov­ery – al­though be­ing close to the size of the 200 – is a lit­tle lighter than the Prado and con­sid­er­ably lighter than the 200 is a key fac­tor here, while the Dis­cov­ery also gains a ben­e­fit from the rel­a­tively close ra­tios of its eight-speed au­to­matic.

When pushed the Sd4 is quite a revvy en­gine, but in gen­eral driv­ing it is low-revving, re­laxed and ef­fort­less thanks to its 500Nm be­ing on tap at just 1500rpm. The Sd4 is also the smoothest, qui­etest and most re­fined en­gine here and, even when revved hard, is nei­ther noisy nor harsh. It also proved the most eco­nom­i­cal of the three en­gines on the road, sur­pris­ingly even bet­ter than the con­sis­tently fru­gal 2.8 in the Prado. In an­other win, the Dis­cov­ery’s eight-speed au­to­matic shifts more smoothly than the two Toy­ota six-speed­ers and is more proac­tive in terms of auto down­shifts to as­sist in de­scent brak­ing.


THE Dis­cov­ery’s trim weight, as well as its fully in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion, plays div­i­dends with its on-road dynamics. On tight, wind­ing roads it’s a far more ag­ile and sporty drive than ei­ther of the two Toy­otas, espe­cially the 200, while the elec­tric power steer­ing is very light at park­ing speeds but has plenty of feel at high­way speeds. At higher speeds on rough roads the Dis­cov­ery is also more sta­ble than the two rear live-axle Toy­otas.

What the Dis­cov­ery can’t do is match ei­ther Toy­ota for ride qual­ity, espe­cially on sharper bumps. The 20s fit­ted to the HSE wouldn’t help here and no doubt the Dis­cov­ery would be more com­fort­able on bumpy back roads with the narrower and taller 19s fit­ted to the S and SE mod­els. That’s cer­tainly the case with the base-spec Range Rover Sport that uses the same core plat­form and rides on iden­ti­cal-spec 19s.


FULLY in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion usu­ally doesn’t offer travel to be ef­fec­tive off-road, but that’s not the case with the Dis­cov­ery. As we have found pre­vi­ously with the RRS, this plat­form of­fers the sort of wheel travel you’d ex­pect of a good live-axle 4x4. In this com­pany it did ev­ery­thing the 200 did and gen­er­ally out­pointed the Prado in the gnarly stuff; al­though, our test HSE was fit­ted with the op­tional rear auto-lock­ing diff, which makes a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in ex­treme con­di­tions.

In this com­pany, the Dis­cov­ery’s height ad­justable sus­pen­sion is also sig­nif­i­cant as it pro­vides more clear­ance, deeper wad­ing and su­pe­rior ap­proach, ramp-over and de­par­tures an­gles than ei­ther Toy­ota. On the down­side, the Dis­cov­ery’s ride de­te­ri­o­rates when the sus­pen­sion is jacked up, a predictable and un­avoid­able out­come from the re­duc­tion in droop travel on the higher sus­pen­sion set­tings.

The new Dis­cov­ery’s lighter weight is a bonus on sand, feel­ing far bet­ter than the Dis­cov­ery 3 and 4 and a match for the 200.


THE new Dis­cov­ery’s cabin has lost the no­tably airy and spa­cious feel of the Dis­cov­ery 3 and 4 and feels more closed in. It’s still a big, long cabin, but it’s not as tall. In this com­pany it still feels big­ger than the Prado and close to the 200 in size.

Up front the driver is treated to the best driv­ing po­si­tion here, and the sec­ond row seat is no­tably more spa­cious than the Prado and only a bit tighter than the 200 for three adults. The Dis­cov­ery has the best third row and the only one that is re­ally com­fort­able for two tall adults. All Dis­cov­ery mod­els have a five-star ANCAP safety rat­ing, and ad­vanced safety fea­tures such as au­ton­o­mous brak­ing are ei­ther stan­dard or op­tional across the en­tire range.


AS WITH the Dis­cov­ery 3 and 4, this new Dis­cov­ery is let down by its mea­gre fuel ca­pac­ity, less than half that of the Prado. The only sav­ing grace is that it’s good on fuel. Like­wise, this new Dis­cov­ery car­ries over the le­gacy of the less-than-ideal wheel and tyre spec of the Dis­cov­ery 4; al­though, it’s bet­ter than be­fore. For any given wheel size there’s a one-size-taller tyre and a nom­i­nal 12.5mm more side­wall.

More pos­i­tive is the Dis­cov­ery’s car­ry­ing and tow­ing ca­pac­i­ties. It has the high­est pay­load here and is also rated to tow 3500kg, the same as the 200; al­though, any­one wish­ing to tow max­i­mum loads would no doubt be bet­ter served by the op­tional 3.0-litre V6.

The new Dis­cov­ery’s lighter weight is a bonus on sand

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