A car which has consistently trounced its rivals at just about every motor award worldwide, surely leaves little to improve upon. Land Rover’s quest for 4x4 perfection continues though and Discovery 4 is proof that they haven’t taken an eye of the quest.
You expect this most capable of 4x4’s, given its impeccable pedigree, to be able to traverse any terrain with absolute ease. You also expect it to be family friendly, tough as old boots and able to tow and carry the bulkiest of cargo. What might surprise though is just how darn good this new Discovery is on road. The terrain where a fair proportion of those sold will alas remain. Lets face it as Chelsea tractors buyers go, the closest most Discovery’s will come to being off roader’s is when they’re being bounced up and down the kerb outside little Courtney tinkebell fathomby-smyth-willliams private school. Of course if these ultra capable school run buses are lucky enough to be purchased by the urban equestrian set, they may once in a blue moon be required to pull a small pony box across a playing field to allow brats on horseback to compete in the county Gymkhana.
In the flesh, the first thing to strike you is just how upmarket the new Disco is, its still a huge slab-sided box on wheels. It’s about as curvaceous as a house brick, however the solid sharp lines and edges to make it look purposeful, substantial and a motor that knows just how darn good it is as almost everything. Now exterior wise there isn’t a massive facelift in the Disco 4 over the old Discovery, its all been very clever and subtle; new grille, bumper, new LED head and rear lights, including the optionally extra ‘daytime running lights’ with their very sexy bright and expensive looking LED quad rings. These gentle nips and tucks (rather than a Joan-Rivers-esque total uplift with support beams) have given the Disco an altogether glossier, more expensive-looking air. The new headlights also have a new and super intelligent safety feature; automatically switching to full beam, and off again if sensors detect on-coming vehicles to avoid dazzling approaching drivers. This means that on those dark nights and long motorway miles that you’ll never forget to turn your full beam on or off!
Now the exterior changes may be subtle, but the interior has been totally redesigned. This is where Land Rover knew the changes needed to be and so is where they concentrated most of its efforts. I have to say it’s totally paid off; the inside of the Disco is now more Range Rover than ever before. The new dash, seats and centre console add to the luxury appearance, but of course remain as durable and practical as ever – perfect whether for farm or family use. The all-terrain button remains, enabling even nervous off-road novices a fool-proof way of selecting the optimum vehicle set-up to best cope with the demands of the particular terrain they are approaching. New gadgets include cameras which give you a 360-degree view around the car (cost optional extra), incredibly useful when negotiating particularly challenging, obstacle strewn off-road terrain. Unfortunately it would appear the last journalist before me to have the Discovery I was testing for the week, must have given it a damn good hammering off road as one of my front cameras and my drivers-side wing mirror camera both worked as and when they felt like it. That aside another clever little ability this gives those with caravans, livestock or show ponies to transport, there’s a special on-screen function designed to help you manoeuvre accurately when towing.
To drive, imagine a premium luxury cruiser, which just happens to be roomier than the Albert Hall, seriously its absolutely cavernous inside, there’s actually an echo if there’s only two of you in it! That’s coupled with the fact the back end appears to be a country mile away from the driver! The only thing Jurassic about the Discovery 4 is its sheer size! You also feel totally in command thanks to the driving position and seating. If there were minor gripes about the Disco 3, they were directed at a lack of on-road finesse. Now, thanks to revised suspension and aerodynamics, enhanced traction and stability control, Disco 4 is very well mannered, enjoyable and cruiser smooth.
Now I tested the all new 3-litre turbo diesel, with reductions in kpg and emissions (down just under 10%), unfortunately its still a total lush when it comes to drinking fuel. The 245bhp 3L V6 turbocharged and intercooled diesel I tested struggled to get close to Land Rover’s official consumption figures of 25mpg round town, 34mpg on the motorway and 30.4pmg combined. That said, the performance was brilliant, 0-60mph takes just 9 seconds, which for a 2.5 tonne, 16ft long 4x4 with a 38ft turning circle is pretty damn quick! The other thing that really needs praise is the 6sp auto box my test car had; silky smooth and great change down for when extra power for overtaking is needed.
I’ve enjoyed serious off-roading in various Land Rovers for years now and continue to be immensely impressed at just how astonishingly capable these cars are. Disco 4 is no exception. To sum up, the best off-roader in class just got better. Genuinely its an excellent all-round 4x4. Perfect regardless of whether your requirement is urban assault weapon or rural workhorse. My test car was definitely worth the £55,000 asking price (including the 4k’s worth of extras).