Break­through

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

PICK­ING a win­ner here is nigh on im­pos­si­ble, if for no other rea­son than the dis­parate pric­ing of the three. Re­gard­less of this, the com­par­a­tive strengths and weak­nesses of the three are laid bare when you drive them back-to-back and, as ever, some ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ences come to the fore, as do a few sur­prises.

Most ob­vi­ously the two Toy­ota’s fall into one camp and the Dis­cov­ery is off on its own, and not just be­cause of its name. It’s been cre­ated in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent tech­no­log­i­cal paradigm. You just couldn’t imag­ine Toy­ota build­ing any­thing like this Dis­cov­ery, at least in the fore­see­able fu­ture – if ever – as its whole Land Cruiser phi­los­o­phy is cen­tred on dura­bil­ity not tech­no­log­i­cal evo­lu­tion.

The two Toy­otas are also very dif­fer­ent, even if they are both Land Cruis­ers and share the same ba­sic de­sign phi­los­o­phy: body-on-chas­sis all-steel con­struc­tion; in­de­pen­dent front and live-axle rear sus­pen­sion; and coils springs all around.

Given the 200 is con­sid­er­ably more ex­pen­sive than the 150 (a 200 GXL is a tad more costly than a Kakadu) you’d think it would be a bet­ter ve­hi­cle all ’round, but it’s not. The 150 beats the 200 for fuel econ­omy, tour­ing range and en­gine re­fine­ment, plus it’s more nim­ble and eas­ier to drive. Given its price ad­van­tage over both 200 and Dis­cov­ery, and the fact that it does ev­ery­thing so well, it’s the sen­si­ble buy of the three. A low le­gal tow­ing ca­pac­ity and only mod­est per­for­mance are the chief rea­sons why a Prado may not suit; al­though, as men­tioned, the tow­ing ca­pac­ity may be one thing Toy­ota ad­dresses with the im­mi­nent Prado up­date.

The 200’s big, grunty, ef­fort­less and low-revving V8 is the main rea­son to buy it and not the Prado. Make no mis­take: it’s the V8 en­gine that de­fines the es­sen­tial dif­fer­ence be­tween the two Land Cruis­ers; al­though, the 200 gives you more space as well. And for heavy-duty tow­ing – even aside from the le­gal­i­ties – there’s no com­par­i­son be­tween the 200 and Prado.

This leads to the new, high­tech Dis­cov­ery. It has a body

nearly as big as the 200 in a package that’s a lit­tle lighter than the Prado. On the road it al­most feels like a sportscar com­pared to the two Toy­otas but can match or bet­ter them off-road. Its per­for­mance and ca­pa­bil­ity spec­trum from on-road to off-road is un­ri­valled here.

But the Dis­cov­ery is com­plex by com­par­i­son and still not per­fect. And while the key short­falls in terms of its use­ful­ness as a se­ri­ous 4x4 are more in the de­tails, the de­tails in ques­tion are crit­i­cal. The tyre and wheel package, al­though more of­froad prac­ti­cal than that of the Dis­cov­ery 4, is still far from ideal for a go-anywhere 4x4. And you can’t read­ily fit smaller wheels due to the size of the front brakes; al­though, the front brakes are no big­ger than the Dis­cov­ery 4’s, so be­spoke 18s are the­o­ret­i­cally pos­si­ble.

Like­wise, the 77-litre fuel ca­pac­ity (85 litres with the Td6) is shy of what’s ideal, even if the Sd4 en­gine is eco­nom­i­cal. Note that some RR and RRS mod­els have 105litre tanks on their sim­i­lar plat­forms and, if any­thing, you’d think that a 105-litre tank would bet­ter serve a Dis­cov­ery than its up­mar­ket sib­lings given they are less likely to ven­ture far from civil­i­sa­tion.

The two Toy­otas fall into one camp and the Dis­cov­ery is off on its own

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