Disco’s good and bad rap

Land Rover might up­set gree­nies, but it has some ex­cep­tional qual­i­ties, writes Mark Hinch­liffe

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

THE big fuel-suck­ing Land Rover Dis­cov­ery V8 mono­lith might make gree­nies an­gry and moth­ers run to pro­tect their chil­dren, but it’s not all bad news.

In a re­cent demon­stra­tion about the blind spots be­hind ve­hi­cles, the Dis­cov­ery fared very well. That strange tail­gate win­dow de­sign with the deeper right-hand side means that rear­ward vi­sion is quite good.

A Com­modore sedan with a boot-mounted spoiler has a blind spot 15m long com­pared with 3.6m for the Dis­cov­ery.

Our test ve­hi­cle was also fit­ted with a re­vers­ing cam­era to fur­ther mit­i­gate the pos­si­bil­ity of back­ing over a child.

Un­for­tu­nately, the cam­era was faulty on our test ve­hi­cle and didn’t al­ways work. It wasn’t the only fault in the test car. The speaker on the left pas­sen­ger door also vi­brated.

These types of faults are not ac­cept­able on a ve­hi­cle cost­ing $126,460.

It only re­in­forces the per­cep­tion Land Rovers can be un­re­li­able. Own­er­ship by Ford and now Tata seems to have sorted out a lot of Land Rover’s qual­ity is­sues and the com­pany came fifth in last year’s Amer­i­can J.D. Power cus­tomer sales sat­is­fac­tion sur­vey.

Re­li­a­bil­ity aside, the Disco 4 is an ex­cep­tion­ally ca­pa­ble tourer that can tackle just about any sur­face with its proven Ter­rain Re­sponse four­wheel-drive sys­tem and so­phis­ti­cated driver-aid fea­tures such as Gra­di­ent Re­lease Con­trol and Tow As­sist.

But it seems that these days the Disco is more about show than go, be­ing par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar among Amer­i­can gangsta rap­pers.

That’s why the new model has a grille that looks like it’s wear­ing braces, side vents that look like bar­be­cue plates and so much bling in­side that sun­glasses are ad­vi­sory even at night.

With all the bells and whis­tles you could ever want, the cabin is a very com­fort­able place to be.

The Disco V8 comes with three enor­mous sun­roofs, mak­ing it a very airy cabin, even for those in the third row of seats.

The cock­pit can be a bit daunt­ing with the com­pre­hen­sive and con­fronting ar­ray of in­stru­ments, switches and con­trols pro­vided. How­ever, once worked out, they all func­tion well and have some con­ve­nient fea­tures.

An­other smart fea­ture is the lo­ca­tion of the iPod con­nec­tion and charg­ing cable in the cen­tre con­sole with a con­ve­nient place to stash the iPod with­out it rat­tling and slid­ing around.

Third-row pas­sen­gers will find the air sus­pen­sion causes a sick­en­ing see-saw ef­fect over un­du­la­tions, yet the sus­pen­sion is great for iron­ing out sharp hits on rough roads, and the rear ar­tic­u­la­tion is per­fect for crawl­ing over rocks and ob­sta­cles in the bush.

How­ever, to­gether with the ex­tremely ca­pa­ble Ter­rain Re­sponse con­stant four-wheeldrive sys­tem, the sus­pen­sion jos­tles its oc­cu­pants on the tar­mac. It ac­tu­ally feels far smoother on dirt roads.

As for gree­nies concerned about CO

2 emis­sions and fos­sil fuel use, the 5.0-litre 2.5-tonne Disco now has e-Ter­rain tech­nolo­gies to lessen its en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, though it still has com­bined fuel econ­omy of 14.1 litres/100km.

Bright star: the Land Rover Dis­cov­ery has three rows of seats and three enor­mous sun­roofs.

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