The latest Land Rover Discovery 4 shows British-based Land Rover can match it with the best of them including the luxury SUVs from the blue-chip German brands.
We were hugely impressed when we tested the latest Land Rover Discovery 4 at the world media launch in Scotland late year and our just-complete week in a twin-turbo V6-diesel Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE model here in Melbourne confirmed those initial thoughts.
This is one of the world’s best luxury mid-size SUVs. As tested, our TDV6 HSE model retails for $94,990, but with entry to the Discovery 4 lineup priced at $68,490, the Land Rover presents outstanding value compared to some of its German rivals.
Land Rover Discovery 4 Overview
Anything wearing a Land Rover badge comes with off-road capability that probably surpasses any rival product. Some of the tracks our Land Rover Discovery 4 covered in Scotland looked like they hadn’t seen civilization since the dinosaurs.
Where the latest itineration of the famed Land Rover Discovery 4 takes giant leaps is in power train refinement, driving dynamics, exterior looks and interior styling/luxury features. And while star billing goes to the new Jaguar-sourced 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine, the twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 diesel as tested by Car Showroom deserves its own kudos.
Combine that new, improved diesel engine with some aerodynamic changes for the improved exterior styling and fuel economy is better than the outgoing 2.7-litre engine.
And inside, the interior has been completely redesigned.
Land Rover Discovery 4 Engine
Here are some impressive stats for Land Rover Discovery 4 TDV6 3.0-litre twin-turbo diesel engine. Compared to the previous 2.7-litre engine: fuel consumption and C02 emissions are both down by nine per cent; power is up by 29 per cent; torque is increased by 36 per cent.
Maximum power is 180kW and peak torque is 600Nm – that eclipses the Mercedes-Benz ML320CDI (165kW/510Nm). Significantly, the Land Rover Discovery 4 can deliver 500Nm (83 per cent of the maximum torque figure) within 500 milliseconds from idle.
It’s a high-tech design featuring a parallel sequential turbocharger system (Land Rover says this is the world’s first application of that configuration in a V-engine). The design is shared with the Jaguar XF luxury sedan and provides low-end punch and relaxed highway cruising.
Changes for the Land Rover installation center on off-road driving – a deeper sump and other strengthening of the lubrication system plus improved water-proofing for the belt drives, alternator, air-conditioning compressor, power steering pump and starter motor.
All of that technology is not just for performance – the Land Rover Discovery 4 TDV6 is EU5-compliant (even though the latest European standard does not become mandatory until 2011). Average fuel consumption is 9.3l/100kms and C02 emissions are 244g/km.
Land Rover Discovery 4 Interior
The Land Rover Discovery 4 HSE model we tested is the range-topper of the three-model Discovery 4 lineup and certainly the beautifully trimmed leather and timber interior is a standout. In fact a new timber colour has been introduced – a mid-tone Nutmeg to compliment the existing Arabica and Almond.
New seats are more supportive and Land Rover experts will notice – for the first time – the latest Land Rover Discovery 4 features adjustable head restraints in the front.
The fascia and console architecture is all new – a gentler, more flowing design with significantly reduced complexity. A real standout is the large center console switch for the Terrain Response off-road system – you simply select the condition (General Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow; Sand; Mud and Ruts; Rock Crawl) and Land Rover’s superb technology configures itself with a myriad of adjustments – it couldn’t be easier or simpler.
While gauges are traditional, between the two is five-inch TFT (thin film transistor) driver information screen which clearly presents secondary information such as fuel tank capacity.
We also liked the sturdy rubber-insulated iPod connectivity port for the improved audio system – designed to maintain a pure connection even when thumping along a severe off-road track.
Electronic seat adjustment and the four-spoke leather steering wheel with rake/reach adjustment provides a nice driving position (with the usual Land Rover tall position for all-round visibility).
The Car Showroom juniors enjoyed the excellent view from the rear seat and we enjoyed the easy installation of their child/booster seats. Large-size adults might find rear seat legroom a little restricted but it’s on par with rival vehicles.
Land Rover Discovery 4 Exterior & Styling
With a heritage of 20 years, you’ re always going to be evolutionary when designing a Land Rover Discovery and this is clearly the case with the latest Land Rover Discovery 4.
The distinct design is smoother and softer thanks to new bumpers, lights, grille, LED turning lamps and colour-coding. Naturally the signature rear three-quarter glass remains.
Despite the larger cooling intake for the extra engine performance, aerodynamics have been improved with anti-drag lips to smooth airflow around the front bumper and wheels.
The latest Land Rover Discovery 4 rides on new design seven-spoke 19-inch alloy wheels as standard with 20-inch 10-spokers an option.
Land Rover Discovery 4 On The Road
Land Rover’s engineers targeted improved on-road driving dynamics as a requirement for the Land Rover Discovery 4. Changes are numerous, including: reduced front-end aerodynamic lift (up to 50 per cent better); revised power steering rack to provide surer straight-ahead feel; suspension revisions to reduce body roll in cornering; bigger brakes; enhanced understeer control.
Over our high speed mountain roads test route, the improvements were crystal clear – the Land Rover Discovery 4 is a huge improvement on its predecessor. This confirmed our experiences tossing the new Disco down the twisty roads of Scotland like it was a high performance sedan.
Of course the strong performance of the twin-turbo diesel and its nicely-mated six-speed automatic transmission were strong contributors to the improved driving dynamics. Refinement levels too are much more impressive than the outgoing model.
Naturally the Land Rover Discovery 4 remains supreme off-road and local drivers will appreciate the new Trailer Stability Assist system which detects a recalcitrant trailer (aren’t they all at times) and automatically reduces engine power and applies the brakes to bring things back under control.
Land Rover Discovery 4 Challenges
The new Land Rover Discovery 4 is about 500 kgs heavier than (for example) the equivalent BMW X5 – we would have thought the new model might have scored the ‘Jenny Craig’ treatment as part of its latest improvements.
Our only other negative point for the Land Rover Discovery 4 is rear parking where the high-mounted rear seat and high cargo area waistline make maneuvering a tad difficult.
Land Rover Discovery 4 Verdict
We’re huge fans of the latest Land Rover Discovery 4 and Range Rover lineups. The British company has fought back from some previously second-rate efforts and is back to building SUVs that are world-class in every department.
And they do so with the sort of luxury and ‘Britishness’ which does provide a discernable point of difference compared to the German brands.
And all things considered, the new Land Rover Discovery 4 lineup is great value-for-money.
Land Rover Discovery 4 Competition
BMW’s X5 and the Mercedes-Benz ML class are also superb. If you’re contemplating serious off-road action or towing heavy trailers, the scale tips in favour of the Discovery.
Significantly, for on-road dynamics and interior luxury, the latest Land Rover Discovery 4 now measures-up against the Germans in every department.
Great TDV6 diesel; superb interior; great to drive; value
Still too heavy; tight city parking requires care