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.