The iconic exterior design of the Land Rover Discovery 4 has been updated, most obviously with smoother and simpler surfaces at the front, including a new, more aerodynamic bumper. The sportier new lights help give the vehicle new character, and include LED technology front and rear. The sophisticated new front headlights include High Beam Assist, switching on or off, as conditions require.
The Land Rover Discovery 4’s interior is completely redesigned, with a transformed dash and centre console, new seats and an array of new, user friendly features. Technology inside the car has moved by leaps and bounds.
There are minimal buttons on the console as most features are controlled via a touch screen display. Cameras around the car almost transform the Discovery 4 into a television studio. The screen shows five views to select from, including a view of the wheels and a wide angle that assists at junctions.
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 subsequently 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 made surfaces the Discovery still displays the no-nonsense abilities that have built the legend of the badge but without some of the rougher edges.
Summarising the car Jaguar Land Rover sub Sahara Africa regional business manager Nigel Clarke told businessdigest that Discovery 4 “is the most versatile vehicle ever assembled.
One cannot think of anything else that matches seven-seat practicality with the same levels of both on-road refinement and off-road ability.”
For the first time the Discovery 4 comes with keyless start and it also wins a larger touch-screen navigation system, some 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 and friendly 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.
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 needs to do is use a degree of commonsense to look like a life-long off-road expert.
Inside, the revised instrument and dash layout is functional and easy to take in. All the key control points come easily to hand, the terrain response control dial has been shifted forward, the gear-shift placement adjusted and the dash console inclined more towards the driver.
There is a new seat design with an extended front cushion and height adjustable head restraints. That change is going to disappoint some traditionalists as it comes at the cost the seat-mounted grab-handles.
There’s more refinement, more kit, loads of space, and no less of the monolithic go-anywhere ability that Land Rover is justifiable famed for. The Discovery 4 really does veer well into Range Rover territory this time around.
Speaking about the car’s engine Rory Beattie, Land Rover automotive diagnostic specialist said at the heart of the engineering revisions of the car are a pair of new in-house designed 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 lag-free efficiency.
“The V8 replaces 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 while the current 2,7-litre diesel will be retained in the model line-up as the entry-level offering,” he said. The new engine has been optimised for low-end torque as well as economy, making it possible to activate the lock-up clutch of the ZF HP-28 automatic transmission at lower speed.
“This reduces slip in the hydraulic torque converter improving both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The higher torque at lower rpm also enables longer gearing for more economical cruising,” Beattie said.
Land Rover has added a battery of user-friendly new technologies and features. Star billing on the Land Rover Discovery 4 goes to the highly efficient and refined new LR-TDV6 3,0 twin turbo diesel engine.
“This delivers a 10% fuel economy improvement (EU combined cycle) and ten percent less CO2 emissions, at the same time as increasing power by 29%, all compared with the existing 2,7-litre engine,” he said.
Torque increases even more, up 36% to 600Nm – believed to be the highest torque output of any 6-cylinder, production diesel, passenger vehicle engine in the world.
The Land Rover Discovery 4’s power and torque are both accessible across the entire rev range, to deliver immediate throttle response and effortless cruising ability. The results include a 0-60mph time of 9,0 seconds, (0-100 km/h in 9.6 seconds), a 24% improvement over the 2,7-litre.
Getting the new engines’ performance to the road was said to be a priority during development with the result that a raft of refinements to the suspension architecture a new knuckle design to improve roll rates and cornering stability. Stiffer anti-roll bars, new bushes and dampers to improve ride quality a redesign of the steering rack to give a more direct and car-like feel at highway speeds and more precision for low-speed off-road applications, and a much more effective and linear brake package upgraded to a size that matches the outgoing Range Rover stoppers.
The brilliant Terrain Response system first introduced on the outgoing model 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.
Paul Nyakazeya recently in Cape Town