Huge off-road competence has always been the hallmark of a Land Rover Discovery. It is what gives the car such credibility in the countryside, and adds gravitas to its urbanite chic. But it has also meant compromises. Being that good across rugged terrain has inevitably resulted in a few sacrifices in its on-road behaviour. Ride comfort and fast cornering have always been pretty good for the type of vehicle it is, but it hasn’t been in the same league as other, non-SUV premium cars. So the target for engineering the latest-generation Discovery 4 was to transform its road behaviour and give it a better balance of ride comfort and cornering control, calming the ride and increasing the car’s composure at speed through the bends
Land Rover’s design director Gerry McGovern said he thought the new Discovery would be a revelation to owners of the current car. That sounds like launch hype, but actually, we reckon he’s right. It handles better, corners flatter and rides a lot smoother than its predecessor. On demanding roads with lots of tight bends and fast sweeping curves through the Scottish borders, the new Disco danced with the finesse of a much- improved model. This has been achieved through a host of changes that include new variable ratio steering gear, stiffer anti-roll bars, revised front dampers, stronger brakes, and a new centre differential that feeds more power to the rear of the car under acceleration. McGovern candidly admitted that the Discovery 3 “Has not resonated with all our customers. Some people saw it as being a little low-rent and a bit brutalist.” To turn around that perception, the car has been given an facelift, an upgraded cabin and a better diesel engine. The front end has been restyled with a new grille, bumper, lights and body detailing. Interior changes include better quality materials, a more cohesive dashboard design and a new position for the Terrain Response control dial where it is easier to reach.
The new 3.0-litre, twin-turbo TDV6 engine is both better-performing and significantly more refined than the current 2.7-litre TDV6, with 26 per cent more power and a 36 per cent increase in torque. It makes the car noticeably quieter, even when driven with press-on enthusiasm. The overall feel of the car is less utilitarian and more sophisticated, moving it further along the scale from cart-horse to racehorse. With sharper steering and more poise to the handling, it is more enjoyable to drive on the road, but that legendary off-road competence remains undimmed.
RIVALS: AUDI Q7 3.0 TDI QUATTRO SE, BMW X5 xDRIVE30d SE
- Engine: 2993cc, V6, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed automatic
- Max power: 241bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max torque: 443lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Max towing weight: 3,500kg
- Max speed: 112mph
- 0-62mph: 9.6secs
- Combined consumption: 30.4mpg
- CO2 emissions (taxband): 244g/km (L)
- Bootspace: 280/2,558litres
- Insurance group: tba