THE NEW DAYS OF DISCO

GQ (Australia) - - CARS - WORDS RICHARD CLUNE

We’re plun­der­ing the lat­est Land Rover Dis­cov­ery through a large pud­dle of wa­ter that’s been poured in the out­back – 20 clicks from Uluru – for our ben­e­fit. “Keep it steady and don’t go too quick,” we’re told. And so we head in too fast and swash silty brown slush up over the bon­net – to the amuse­ment of those gath­ered who don’t work for Land Rover. It shouldn’t mat­ter – the new en­gine, we’re told, can “breathe” un­der­wa­ter and the wad­ing depth of the new Disco is an im­pres­sive 900mm (up 200mm on the pre­vi­ous model). Next comes a moguls course, a clus­ter of hard­ened ob­sta­cles that mean in­creas­ing the car’s height by the press of a soli­tary but­ton to let the ve­hi­cle know it’s about to drive across some ex­treme speed bumps. Given the en­gi­neer­ing clout and tricked-up tech of what lies be­neath, it’s all rather easy – nudg­ing up and over the hard­ened red dirt boul­ders, front wheels in­de­pen­dently air­borne be­fore driv­ing out onto the flat. It was dur­ing our second as­sault of this staged NT cir­cuit that we started to pon­der just how many of these new, lux­ury Bri­tish SUVS would ac­tu­ally make it out­doors. It was clearly also the con­cern of one of this trip’s sea­soned mo­tor­ing hacks – a pre­dom­i­nately heavy-set col­lec­tion of men whose lives seem to re­volve around ac­cru­ing air miles and free mo­tor­ing jack­ets – who asked as much, want­ing a per­cent­age break­down from those at Jaguar Land Rover. None was forth­com­ing, though the mar­que’s brass didn’t shy away from dis­cussing where this, Land Rover’s fifth and lat­est it­er­a­tion of the much-loved Dis­cov­ery, would end up – on tar­mac, do­ing school and week­end sports runs. For all its ease at de­vour­ing sandy bush tracks, the Disco re­mains a sta­tus sym­bol for city types – a car that speaks of cer­tain wealth and boasts about the idea of adventure, even though its most pun­ish­ing out­ing will likely in­volve fer­ry­ing a half-dozen seven-year-olds high on sugar fol­low­ing a party. And this is a shame – given the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of what the car can re­ally do when it comes to find­ing a path where there isn’t one. The first thing to re­ally strike is the new model’s up­dated shape. Gone is the bru­tal square­ness of be­fore in favour of a more rounded, fuller struc­ture. That’s not to say she’s fat – the lines that pull from the bon­net are still sleek, though the rear is a lit­tle ‘Kar­dashian-es­que’, es­pe­cially no­tice­able in side pro­file. The junk in the trunk’s nec­es­sary to ac­com­mo­date a third row of seat­ing for the seven-seaters, an op­tion we’re as­sured will ac­com­mo­date three adults. De­spite such growth, the car ac­tu­ally car­ries less weight – the new, largely alu­minum body mean­ing it hits the scales a whop­ping 480kg lighter than be­fore. There’s a trio of diesel en­gines to choose from, each with an eight-speed trans­mis­sion and avail­able across four dif­fer­ent fin­ishes: S, SE, HSE and HSE Lux­ury. While $65,960 will get you the five-seat four-cylin­der, 2.0-litre S Td4, it’s the range­top­ping HSE Td6, with 3.0-litre V6, that feels right – a $103,760 spend that de­liv­ers 190kw and 600Nm with a 0-100km/h time of 8.1 sec­onds. Some claim that the op­u­lence of the new Disco sets Land Rover on a col­li­sion course with its lux­ury Range Rover sib­lings, though this sug­gests the bush basher’s gone a bit soft – which it hasn’t, even if it’s talked about as ‘the ul­ti­mate fam­ily SUV’. It’s about rid­ing high, co­cooned in leath­ery-lux­ury – even off road the ride is quiet and smooth – with an abil­ity to wedge a lot of stuff in. There are 21 vary­ing seat po­si­tions across the three rows – the last two can be driven com­pletely flat via the press of a but­ton, or via an app. As for connectivity, the car boasts nine USB points and six 12v charg­ing points. It’s all very im­pres­sive, so too the Ad­vanced Tow As­sist, which will please any man who sweats a lit­tle when it comes to re­vers­ing what­ever’s at­tached out back. Since it first ar­rived in this coun­try in 1991, more than 65,000 Aus­tralian mo­torists have claimed own­er­ship of a Dis­cov­ery. And now with the re­fined tweaks, in­creased luxe and connectivity, that num­ber’s sure to quickly in­crease – even if there’s lit­tle of­froad driv­ing be­ing done. Avail­able now; lan­drover.com.au

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