func­tion

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

to fall short of the tar­get. It didn’t.

The first im­pres­sion of the up­grade of the in­te­rior is that the changes are not only cos­metic — good — but func­tional — bet­ter.

The re­vised in­stru­ment and dash lay­out is func­tional and easy to take in. All the key con­trol points come eas­ily to hand, the ter­rain re­sponse con­trol dial has been shifted for­ward, the gear-shift place­ment ad­justed and the dash con­sole in­clined more to­wards the driver.

A new seat de­sign has an ex­tended front cush­ion and height ad­justable head re­straints. That change is go­ing to dis­ap­point some tra­di­tion­al­ists be­cause it comes at the cost of the seat-mounted grab-han­dles.

For the first time the Dis­cov­ery comes with key­less start and it wins a larger touch-screen nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, ex­tra stor­age bins and iPod con­nec­tiv­ity with full con­trol through the cen­tre con­sole or steer­ing wheel-mounted but­tons.

That is all nice and friendly, but Land Rover’s core value is its abil­ity to go al­most any­where. The Dis­cov­ery 4 has lost none of that.

At the heart of the en­gi­neer­ing re­vi­sions are a pair of new in-house de­signed en­gines, a spank­ing fivelitre di­rect in­jec­tion V8 with 276kW and 510Nm and a sub­lime se­quen­tial twin turbo 3.0-litre diesel V6 with 180kW and a huge 600Nm de­liv­ered with lag-free ef­fi­ciency.

Both en­gines will make it to Aus­tralia, the V8 re­plac­ing the cur­rent 4.4-litre at the top of the model range, and the new diesel will be of­fered in SE and HSE trim. The cur­rent 2.7-litre diesel will be re­tained in the line-up as the en­trylevel of­fer­ing.

The new V8 was not avail­able to drive at the launch event, but af­ter a day spent in the com­pany of the diesel it be­came in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to mount an ar­gu­ment in favour of the big petrol en­gine.

The bril­liant Ter­rain Re­sponse sys­tem — first in­tro­duced on the out­go­ing model as off-road­ing for dum­mies — has been re­fined. It still has five set­tings, for on-road, grass and snow, mud and ruts, sand and rock crawl­ing, but with a cou­ple of key im­prove­ments.

A launch func­tion has been built into the sand set­tings to elim­i­nate the need to feather the throt­tle when driv­ing away and lower the risk of dig­ging in and a gen­tle back­ground brak­ing ap­pli­ca­tion has been in­cor­po­rated into rock crawl­ing be­low 5km/h in first gear — or re­verse — to in­crease sta­bil­ity.

On the open road, the Dis­cov­ery 4 is more set­tled, com­posed and a great deal qui­eter in the cabin than the out­go­ing model. There is less ner­vous­ness about the steer­ing and greater con­fi­dence to al­low the car to flow through sec­tions where pre­vi­ously body roll and steer­ing vague­ness would have given cause for pause.

Off the made sur­faces, the Dis­cov­ery still dis­plays the no-non­sense abil­i­ties that have built the leg­end of the badge, but without some of the rougher edges.

The dial-and-drive ca­pa­bil­ity of the ter­rain re­sponse sys­tem is noth­ing short of magic. The ve­hi­cle’s dy­namic re­sponse to vary­ing con­di­tions are ef­fec­tively built-in and all the driver needs do is use a de­gree of com­mon sense to look like a life­long off-road ex­pert.

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