now has touches of magic
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.