Revised Disco 4: What a Discovery!

2014-03-07 15:30

What better way to experience the new SA-bound Land Rover Discovery and Evoque than with a safari trek from Botswana’s wilderness, across the Zambezi and into Zambia.

Botswana proved particularly challenging as the country is experiencing its highest rainfall in decades. This resulted in severely challenging driving conditions.

IMAGE GALLERY: 2014 Land Rover Discovery

Where there were well worn paths were now river spillways with some roads having city-car swallowing mud holes. Still, nothing quite brings a smile to the face of a 4x4 driver than ploughing through flood water with reckless abandon creating mini-mud tsunamis.


The 2014 Discovery is available with a choice of two 3.0 litre diesel engines (TDV6 and SDV6), a new petrol 3.0 V6 and four specifications - XS, S, SE and HSE.

The 3.0 SDV6 is capable of 183kW/600Nm with a claimed consumption of 8.8 litres/100km and emissions of 230 g/km. The 3.0 TDV6 is tuned to deliver 155kW/520Nm.

The petrol newcomer (a first in the Discovery line-up) is rated at 250kW/450Nm with a claimed consumption of 12 litres/100km and emissions of 285g/km. All engines are mated to an eight-speed ZF auto.


Changes to the car consist of new headlights, a more glossy radiator grille and foglight surrounds, more rounded door mirrors, new satnav and technologies. It's not what you'd call a wide-ranging update but it's enough – just – to keep the seven-seater contemporary and competitive.

Disco 3, Disco 4... Fans of the fourth generation Land Rover might be surprised to note the disappearance of '4' moniker at the rear and replacement of the 'Land Rover' badge on the bonnet. The 4x4 now bears just a Discovery badge as part of the automaker’s plan to make the Discovery a brand in its own right, so it’s a name we’ll be seeing for a lot longer yet.

Its mass inflicts great compromises on the Discovery’s performance – it’s not a fast vehicle nor is it quick to respond. It’s a vehicle that marries the 4x4 prowess of an outdoor workhorse with a luxury SUV and does so with aplomb.

Ride comfort is everything in this vehicle and whether you’re cruising down SA’s potholed-plagued roads, sloshing your way through rivers or traversing rock-laden dirt paths, the Discovery soaks up everything thrown at it... you will of course have the characteristic wallow of a big, heavy SUV.

It’s important to note that much like your methods for overcoming dips and undulations, slowing down (way down...) is key to proper cornering. High-centre of gravity, its mass, body roll and the laws of physics mean that a gentle approach is needed to avoid disaster.

The Discovery remains a superb multi-tasker though it’s up against tough competition from the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GL and Toyota Land Cruiser.


All models come with air suspension and the automaker’s Terrain Response system, which automatically adjusts engine and transmission depending on road conditions. It offers driver-selectable modes (grass, gravel and snow, mud ruts, sand and rock crawl). Also included are hill assist and descent.

Add that to three height choices (access, normal and off-road) and a choice of low or high gearbox ratios and you’ll see why the Disco can transport you out of a crater just as easily as it can overcome pavements.

The wade sensing system, which uses the satnav screen to display just how much muddy water you’re getting yourself into though you’ll have to be travelling at less than 10km/h for it to work.

Wade sensing is offered on the HSE spec and enables drivers to use the TFT screen to monitor proximity to the maximum wading depth of 700mm. The system is activated when water hits the bottom of the lowest Parking sensor, projecting a graphic of the vehicle in profile onto the screen, with a real-time indication of the water level relative to the maximum wading depth.  

The centre console is where the Disco 4 shows its age but that’s mostly if you compare it to any of the three Range Rover models.  One minor frustration includes the placement and number of USB slots – a single USB socket in the glove box.

There are much smaller vehicles (read: less expensive) with a pair of slots within the centre console, so to find only one in the Disco is a shame.

Still, with the 2014 upgrades comes a new touch screen multimedia system that noticeably betters the previous system. Drivers have access to the automaker’s maps as well as the comprehensive routes compiled by the Tracks4Africa community, toggled via the satnav. Later in 2014, LRSA will release an upgrade which will combine the maps at a nominal fee.


This boxy vehicle is a plush-but-purposeful 4x4 though given that it’s 10 years it can appear dated alongside siblings such as the Evoque and Range Rover Sport. Despite this, it has a lot to offer – particularly to those who like their 4x4s square-sided, old-fashioned and able to carry them through the outdoors in luxury.

It’s massive, yes and perhaps a little ostentatious but you could level that accusation at most large SUVs. At least with the Discovery you have the trust that it can overcome any obstacle.

I suppose the biggest barrier to switching to life in a Discovery might be its relevance in day-to-day driving. If you’re confined to the concrete jungle then I suppose a Range Rover Evoque would be a more appropriate vehicle.

Owning a Discovery requires a lifestyle switch in order to make the most of what this quintessential off-roader has to offer.

3.0 TDV6 XS - R653 500
3.0 SDV6 S - R776 100
3.0 SDV6 SE - R825 500
3.0 SDV6 HSE - R925 000
3.0 V6 S/C SE - R819 700
3.0 V6 S/C HSE - R919 200