Disco’s good and bad rap
Land Rover might upset greenies, but it has some exceptional qualities, writes Mark Hinchliffe
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.