now has touches of magic

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - LUX­URY CARS -

There is a new seat de­sign with an ex­tended front cush­ion and heigh­tad­justable head re­straints. That change is go­ing to dis­ap­point some tra­di­tion­al­ists as it comes at the cost the seat-mounted grab-han­dles.

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

That is all very nice but Land Rover’s core value is its abil­ity to go al­most any­where and get back again. The Dis­cov­ery 4 has lost none of that. At the heart of the engi­neer­ing re­vi­sions are a pair of new en­gines, a spank­ing 5-litre di­rect in­jec­tion V8 with 276kW and 510Nm and a sub­lime se­quen­tial twin turbo 3.0-litre diesel V6 with 180kW and a mon­strous 600Nm of torque de­liv­ered with lagfree ef­fi­ciency.

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

The new V8 was not avail­able to drive but af­ter a day spent in the com­pany of the diesel, it be­came in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to see why you would favour the big petrol en­gine.

Get­ting the new en­gines’ per­for­mance to the road was a pri­or­ity dur­ing de­vel­op­ment. The re­sult is a raft of re­fine­ments to the sus­pen­sion ar­chi­tec­ture, in­clud­ing a new knuckle de­sign to im­prove roll rates and cor­ner­ing sta­bil­ity, stiffer anti-roll bars, new bushes and dampers to im­prove ride qual­ity. There’s also a re­design of the steer­ing rack to give a more di­rect and car-like feel at high­way speeds. And then there’s a much more ef­fec­tive and lin­ear brake pack­age. The bril­liant Ter­rain Re­sponse sys­tem – first in­tro­duced on the out­go­ing model as off-roading for dum­mies – has also come in for re­fine­ments. There are still the five set­tings for on-road, grass and snow, mud and ruts, sand and rock crawl­ing but there have been a cou­ple of key im­prove­ments.

A launch func­tion has been built into the sand set­tings, while a gen­tle back­ground brak­ing ap­pli­ca­tion has been in­cor­po­rated into rock crawl­ing.

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 the body roll and steer­ing vague­ness would have given cause for pause.

Off the man-made sur­faces, the Dis­cov­ery still dis­plays the nonon­sense 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 need do is use a de­gree of com­mon­sense to look like a life-long off-road ex­pert.

ON THE GO: The Dis­cov­ery 4 fords a creek; the rear seats fold down; and the driver’s com­part­ment.

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