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Discovery 4 driven

2009-10-23 12:18
Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Land Rover
Model Discovery 4
Engine 3.0-litre 24-valve V6 twin turbodiesel; 5.0-litre 32-valve V8 petrol
Power 180 kW @ 4 000 r/min; 276 kW @ 6 500 r/min
Torque 600 kW @ 2 000 r/min; 510 Nm @ 3 500 r/min
Transmission six-speed auto
Zero To Hundred 9.6 seconds; 7.9 seconds
Top Speed 180 km/h; 196 km/h
Fuel Tank 82 l; 86 l
Fuel Consumption 9.3 l/100 km; 14.1 l/100 km
Steering rack & pinion, power assisted
Front Suspension air sprung independent double wishbone
Rear Suspension air sprung independent double wishbone
Service Intervals 12 000 km or 6 months

Hailey Philander

Rock and sand crawl
360 degree camera view
Off road

Can you spot the differences between the Discovery 3 and the new Discovery 4 that was this week launched on a range of rocky trails, gravel roads and asphalt in the Western Cape?

The new Discovery picks up where its predecessor left off and its boxy structure, flat panels and tall tail light cluster should strike a familiar profile.

However, the changes are in the details. Bumpers at the front and rear are more rounded with a larger airdam, the two-slat lattice grille is now shared with the Freelander and Range Rover, and head and tail lights use more efficient LEDs.

The Discovery 4 also boasts an all-new interior with an elegant mix of leather and wood finishes. New and more comfortable seats have been introduced for occupants in the first and second rows.

All models have a new steering wheel with remote audio controls and cruise control and the instrument panel has a new five-inch TFT information screen for important driver information.

Touch touch

Probably one of the biggest changes, though, is the introduction of a new touch-screen area that frees up a fair amount of space in the central hangdown.

It's all very neat, but the most significant change is that the touch screen has allowed the all-important Terrain Response System to be moved from behind the gearlever to the base of the centre console.

The clever little dial is one of the key reasons for the Disco's drivability and ease of use. Gauge the terrain, and dial the large knob to either sand; grass, gravel or snow; mud and ruts, or rock crawl, engage low range if necessary and off you go. Easy. Just tune it to the general driving setting once you're back on the black stuff.

The system has been lightly tweaked for model year 2010 with new rock crawl and sand launch programmes.

For use in soft sand, "sand launch control" is new with the speed dependent system - it is more aggressive at low speeds to gain maximum traction, especially when starting off - helping to prevent digging down into sand.

(The Discovery launch route did not include a sand driving section, although we were able to try it in the new Range Rover Sport, but more on that later.)

The rock crawl programme is said to improve brake and traction control response times and helps to reduce the wheels rolling off on their own agenda when you're more involved with bumping along rocky terrain.

Dial and go

And it's on the tricky stuff that another cool feature also proves very useful. Introduced on the Range Rover a few weeks ago, and now offered on the top spec HSE model, the surround camera system uses five digital cameras placed around the SUV to give an all-round view of the car at speeds up to 18 km/h.

Since you can, via the touch screen, choose which camera or camera views you'd prefer, it should be very useful for those low-speed parking arrangements…

These cameras should also be useful when it comes to towing. Land Rover SA's sales and marketing manager, Roland Reid, said this Discovery 4 was "made to be the greatest towing vehicle that has ever been designed".

He may even be correct, since this vehicle has trailer assist for a variety of trailers (just hop through the touch screen menus to choose your trailer) and tow hitch assist, but journalists at the launch were not allowed to try, or see, this system in action.

If the most important changes have been saved for beneath the metal, the all-new TDV6 is a revelation.

All-new TDV6

The 3.0-litre is ultra-refined, but more than that is also 9% more fuel efficient and releases 9% less CO2 than its 2.7-litre predecessor. Power and torque are up 29- and 36% respectively. But where are these figures, you grumble?

How does 180 kW at 4 000 r/min and 600 Nm at 2 000 r/min sound? Especially since the 2.7 only produced 140 kW and 440 Nm…

Based on the 2.7-litre TDV6, the new engine uses parallel sequential turbochargers (their first application in a V- engine) to produce high levels of torque across the rev range.

Direct injection, variable camshaft timing and variable camshaft profile switching has helped to achieve significant fuel savings and the TDV6 uses a claimed 9.3 l/100 km. CO2 emissions are claimed to be an average of 244 g/km.

This jewel of an engine is shared with Jaguar and a version features in the XF range, but it has been tweaked somewhat for use in the Land Rover.

Seven up

And on the road, where most Discos are likely to spend their time, these are impeccable machines. Shifts through the new six-speed automatic transmission are smooth and hassle-free.

New seats are comfortable and the cabin is quiet and sumptuous. Ride quality supple and this 4X4 is composed, too - body roll is eerily low given its high centre of gravity, which allows one to move along those fast B-roads at deceptive speeds.

From January 2010, the line-up expands with the introduction of the naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 using direct injection with 276 kW and 510 Nm on tap.

Many may argue that in an environmental climate where global warming and the effect of harmful emissions is on centre stage, vehicles such as the Discovery 4 should be preparing for a hasty exit.

But Land Rover was conscious to create a vehicle that could return decent fuel consumption figures and all the Discoveries now have smaller carbon footprints, and as a seven-seater family vehicle with decent off-roader credentials, those who love them would be forgiven for wanting to hold on a little longer.


Discovery TDV6 S - R595 000
Discovery TDV6 SE - R645 000
Discovery TDV6 HSE - R725 000

Discovery 5.0 V8 HSE - R720 000

Rock and sand crawl
360 degree camera view
Off road


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