Mod­i­fied Dis­cov­ery 5

Mark Sav­ille is as happy as a sand­boy be­hind the wheel of this Matzker-mod­i­fied Dis­cov­ery 5


Matzker’s mar­vel­lous ma­chine im­presses Mark Sav­ille when he gives it a pun­ish­ing work­out at an ex-mil­i­tary ‘desert’ site

Soft, pow­dery, axle-deep sand fans out from all four wheels. The Disco 5’s ex­te­rior body­work is al­most too hot to touch be­neath this blaz­ing sun; the un­der­bon­net tem­per­a­tures must be fur­nace-like, yet still this unas­sum­ing fam­ily 4x4 re­fuses to bog down or get stuck. Be­lieve me, I’m re­ally try­ing – never has an en­ve­lope been so en­thu­si­as­ti­cally pushed in search of its lim­its than by me to­day in this over­land­pre­pared Matzker DC8.

For those of you not al­ready fa­mil­iar with the work of Cologne-based Matzker Tech­nol­ogy and Ac­ces­sories, you should know that the com­pany’s up­grades are so highly re­garded by Land Rover Ger­many that the mod­i­fi­ca­tions it makes don’t af­fect the ve­hi­cle’s war­ranty; and some of those mod­i­fi­ca­tions are pretty sig­nif­i­cant too. Matzker is also a fran­chised Jaguar Land Rover dealer.

So, I’m be­hind the wheel of a brand-new Disco 5 that’s clearly been mod­i­fied to cope with some ar­du­ous con­di­tions by a com­pany that knows pre­cisely how it should be done. This knowl­edge was largely gained through the com­pany’s late founder, Amadeus Matzker, who had a pas­sion for desert rac­ing and over­land ad­ven­tures in North Africa. I had the priv­i­lege of ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Amadeus’s finely honed off- and on-road driv­ing skills when we fea­tured the Matzker DC4 and Evoque Ral­lye con­cept (LRO De­cem­ber 2012 and Septem­ber 2012 re­spec­tively).

Why’s it called DC8?

The first Matzker, a mod­i­fied Sand­glow 2.7 TDV6 Disco 3, was called the DC5 be­cause the re-map gave it more than 500Nm of torque. ‘The sub­se­quent Disco 4 model put out al­most 600Nm, and so we nat­u­rally called it the DC6,’ ex­plains Matzker’s joint man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Bern­hard Körner. ‘When the later ver­sion of the up­graded Disco 4 came along, the se­quence was firmly es­tab­lished, so de­spite not pro­duc­ing 700Nm we called that the DC7. To­day, we have the DC8.’

That ex­plains the name – but what sort of buyer is the ve­hi­cle aimed at? ‘I think it’s a good, stan­dard car for trav­el­ling and for daily driv­ing; a good com­pany car,’ says Bern­hard. ‘When you see the car in stan­dard trim you don’t im­me­di­ately think it will be so great off-road in mud or sand. But the changes we make trans­form this im­pres­sion and in prac­tice it de­liv­ers – more power and more torque.

‘It’s still a great fam­ily car or daily com­pany car. I think the in­te­rior is beau­ti­ful, so we don’t make any changes there. We are spe­cial­ists in tech­ni­cal and me­chan­i­cal up­grades; other com­pa­nies han­dle in­te­ri­ors.’

What’s it like to drive?

With its ul­tra-dark tinted side win­dows this DC8 is not legally al­lowed to drive on pub­lic roads, so I can only tell you about driv­ing it of­froad. To­day’s lo­ca­tion is a dis­used mil­i­tary area just over the bor­der in the Nether­lands but it may as well be on the edge of the Sa­hara. It’s boil­ing hot and deep sand stretches to the hori­zon – per­fect con­di­tions for try­ing out the ex­tra power and torque made avail­able by the ‘TR6 Per­for­mance En­hance­ment’ and the trick sus­pen­sion that now has the po­ten­tial for nine dif­fer­ent height set­tings in­stead of the stan­dard three.

Disco goes up, Disco goes down – your op­tions are al­most end­less. The main rea­son for so much flex­i­bil­ity is to give the driver the

‘The trick sus­pen­sion has a po­ten­tial for nine dif­fer­ent set­tings in­stead of the stan­dard three’

ul­ti­mate choice in height and ride con­trol, 28mm lower or 30mm higher than any of the three stan­dard ride heights. Matzker’s clever sys­tem also al­lows you to drive in the raised po­si­tion at speeds up to 100kph (62mph) be­fore it re­turns to stan­dard ride height, in­stead of just 50kph (31mph). But, as Bern­hard ex­plains, ‘Low­er­ing the ride height re­duces air re­sis­tance on mo­tor­way jour­neys and no­tice­ably im­proves ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity, be­cause the dy­namic sta­bil­ity con­trol cuts in much later to com­pen­sate for sud­den steer­ing move­ments. In the off-road set­ting, the ad­di­tional height pro­vides for ground clear­ance of up to 340mm and a sig­nif­i­cantly im­proved ap­proach an­gle.’

With the sus­pen­sion set to its new max­i­mum – 30mm higher than the stan­dard off-road height – the ride is very firm, even over deep sand, so I opt for ‘stan­dard’ off-road height. The ex­tra 70Nm (52lb ft) torque and 45bhp of power ex­tracted from the 3.0-litre V6 tur­bod­iesel pro­vide a use­ful and much­needed boost, pow­er­ing through the pow­dery and power-sap­ping sand.

The fat 255/55 R20 Goodyear Wran­gler Du­ra­tracs pad­dle through the sand ef­fec­tively but, un­sur­pris­ingly, they dig in quite quickly as soon as for­ward mo­men­tum is lost. Keep­ing the power on usu­ally en­ables the DC8 to dig its way out; how­ever, this rarely works on a slope, where re­vers­ing out is the only an­swer.

Even­tu­ally, af­ter a cou­ple of hours roar­ing around this Dutch ‘desert’, the DC8 cries enough and re­fuses to go any fur­ther. It’s been blis­ter­ingly hot all day and the work­load I’ve been de­mand­ing from it has been pun­ish­ing. Iron­i­cally, the prob­lem turns out to be sim­ply that this twin-tank Disco has run out of fuel. Whoops! For­tu­nately, there’s a jerry can of diesel on-hand. Suit­ably re­freshed, the test­ing con­tin­ues; it’s tremen­dous fun. Ver­dict As with the pre­vi­ous Matzker-mod­i­fied ve­hi­cles I’ve driven, this DC8 has been very care­fully and sym­pa­thet­i­cally up­graded; so much so, it feels like a fac­tory job. If I had a Dis­cov­ery 5, I would be very tempted to send it to Matzker for a sim­i­lar up­grade.

At the very least, I’d send in my ECU for re­pro­gram­ming. Af­ter all, who doesn’t want more power and torque?

‘The prob­lem seems to be that this twin­tank Disco has run out of fuel. Whoops!’

Sus­pen­sionThis dis­creet but­ton con­trols nine sus­pen­sion height set­tings in­stead of the orig­i­nal three. The sharp end of Matzker’s ex­cel­lent sus­pen­sion up­grade The con­cealed Warn winch can also be con­trolled by ra­dio

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