Sep 7 2009 John Murdoch
The best has just got better
LAND ROVER has just added real class to its legendary Discovery range.
The Discovery 4, which goes on sale this month, is the latest version of one of the world's toughest and most versatile vehicles.
First launched almost 20 years ago, the Discovery has continually crept up-market and the newcomer is the most luxurious of all.
Boasting a potent new V6 diesel engine and a classy new-look, the Discovery 4 comes complete with luxury fittings to complement its go-anywhere ability and make it an even more appealing prospect to own.
A new grille and front and rear bumpers give the car a more refined look and bright LED lamps front and rear complete the picture.
Inside, all that remains of the previous interior are the air vents. There is a complete new dash and new switchgear to replace the many buttons of the old model.
The result is a luxury saloon feel and in the more expensive versions, leather and wooden trim make the car a competitor to the firm's own Range Rover models which cost up to £20,000 more.
Land Rover designers and engineers are rightly proud of the new Disco, which is now four cars in one - an executive estate, a seven-seat MPV, tough off-roader or a super towcar which can also carry big loads.
Frankly the new Disco is a techno dream. A new display screen on the instrument panel shows a variety of virtual images to assist the driver off-road, while the computerised Terrain Response system has been improved for even better off-road performance.
For an extra £850 the Disco can be fitted with a 360 degree camera system which allows the driver to see the terrain next to the vehicle even when you can't see it from behind the wheel. The rear lens also doubles as a reversing camera which allows the driver to attach a trailer with ease.
In severe conditions the camera system could be the difference between safety and disaster. One colleague on our challenging off-road route through the Borders even managed to see fish in the Tweed as we forded the river.
Engineers have also developed a trailer stability programme for the new Disco's drive system which detects sway above 50mph and automatically intervenes to keep the car and trailer moving in a straight line.
Better brakes give the Disco more stopping power and the steering has also been modified to improve feedback to the driver. Uprated suspension also improves the ride and composure of this 2.5 ton monster.
Don't get me wrong it does not have the agility of a family hatchback but it is really easy to live with and provides a commanding position to view the road ahead. I loved it.
Prices start at £31,995 for a manual model fitted with the 2.7litre V6 diesel from the previous generation. No V8 petrol engines will be available in the UK market and these will be for export only to overseas markets where Brown and Darling don't get to fix tax rates.
The award-winning 3.0litre diesel which is also fitted to Jaguar's fantastic XF saloon - is available only with an automatic gearbox - and priced from £34,495, rising to £47,695 for the top HSE model. Across the board, the price increase is about £1,000 over the outgoing model and that seems like a bargain.
The new engine lowers fuel consumption and emissions and an average of 30.4 mpg is claimed as against the 27.7 mpg of the 2.7 litre version. In real life conditions you should be prepared for a good bit lower than this.
Performance is fantastic both on and off the road with 60mph coming up in just nine seconds.
The talents of the new Discovery 4 are almost without limit. It can travel motorways and A roads in comfort, plough through snow without effort, tackle mudded ruts, climb mountains, ford rivers and cross deserts.
It has no serious rivals and the best has just got better!