Discovery 4 TDV6 HSE 2011
In a nutshell:
Land Rover’s initial plan was to give the Discovery 3 a facelift. But then the company changed the Disco so much they called it Discovery 4. At least that’s Land Rover’s story – and they’re sticking to it.
What does matter is that it’s selling like hotcakes. And it’s easy to see why, because it’s a good-looking vehicle with just about every luxury you could ask for. The 3-litre TDV6 engine that replaces the previous 2.7-litre turbo-diesel engine is also a brand-new addition to the range.
What’s more, Land Rover’s Terrain Response system ensures that it can conquer extremely difficult terrain … theoretically, that is. Because for all its excellent attributes it has an Achilles heel if you ever plan on using it off-road.
The Discovery 4 is more luxurious inside than many luxury sedans. Even the owners of luxury yachts might feel a little pang of envy when faced with so much opulence − it’s leather wherever you look. You can rattle off specifications, write about the air-conditioning, CD player, 14 speakers (yes, that’s right), navigation system and what not, but you’ll struggle to convey the sense of quality.
Sitting in the driver’s seat, you feel a little like being in control of a ship’s bridge. You can spend hours playing with the touch screen that controls the sound and navigation systems. Or fiddle to get the position of your seat’s armrest just right.
As if the interior lights aren’t enough, lights underneath the side mirrors illuminate the car’s exterior when you push the button on the remote control.
The third row of seats folds away completely into the load bay and if you fold the middle row of seats forward, you have a nice station-wagon-type load bay. Although it’s no longer such a novelty, it is important to mention the rear-view camera. Put the Disco in reverse and a wide-angle image of the area behind the car is displayed on the dashboard screen. It’s not as clever as the system in Hyundais and Kias, where the image appears in a corner of the rear-view mirror, but it does help a lot
Under the skin:
The 3-litre V6 turbo diesel, the same engine that is used in the Jaguar XJ and XF, effortlessly propels this 2.5 ton vehicle. Want to overtake? Depress the accelerator and feel the seamless power push you forwards. Where the Disco 3’s 2.7-litre turbo diesel developed 140 kW and 440 Nm, the Disco 4 engine pushes out 180 kW power and 600 Nm torque. And all of that at only 9.3 litre of diesel for every 100 km you drive.
The six-speed automatic gearbox changes gears quickly and after a while you start wondering if you’d ever want to experience a manual gearbox again. According to Land Rover the Disco 4 accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 9.6 seconds – as quickly as a BMW 323i.
Impressive or what? But it gets even better when you look at the chassis and four-wheel-drive system. The Disco has neither a ladder-frame chassis, nor a monocoque chassis like that of the Pajero. Land Rover calls it an “Integrated Body Frame” and it’s pretty much a combination of the two.
But that’s not all. What makes the modern Land Rovers unique is the Terrain Response system with which the vehicle can be “adjusted” by the turn of a knob for varying terrain such as rocks, sand, mud, snow/ice etc. The vehicle’s onboard computer adjusts the ride height, gear shifts and accelerator sensitivity accordingly.
So if you’re in sand mode, the accelerator will be more sensitive, the gearbox will only switch to the next gear at higher revolutions and the ground clearance will be set to maximum. In the rock mode, you must be in low-range, the accelerator is less sensitive and the gears change quicker. On paper it’s a wonderful system that has won several awards.
Pg 2 | The drive
On the road:
Not only is the Disco luxurious, it also handles like a luxury car. In its standard road mode, the suspension is quite low to overcome the problem of a high centre of gravity – the Achilles heel of most 4×4’s during cornering.
The diesel engine is dead quiet and wind noise is very low. Before long you realise you’re speeding along much faster than 140 km/h, after which you switch on the cruise control so you don’t end up wasting your Christmas bonus on a speed fine.
This is where the Disco 4 reminds you of the opening line of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …” The Terrain Response allows the Disco to deal with rocky terrain like a mountain goat – as if it doesn’t exist. Wheel-spin is prevented by means of electronics and automatic diff locks, and the suspension makes you wonder whether your eyes are not perhaps deceiving you. Great or what?
The problem is the 19-inch tyres. The very low profile makes it anything but suited to sand. And if you deflate the tyres just a little, rocks slice them open. We drove the relatively easy Namaqua Eco Trail in a Disco 4 and made sure the tyres were never softer than 2.5 bar over rocks. We also drove extremely carefully – and still lost a tyre.
You also can’t fit 17-inch rims, because the Disco 4’s brake discs and callipers are too big to make this possible. In other words, you’re sitting with a vehicle with excellent off-road electronics that are only available with tyres that prevent it from using these electronics.
Engine: 2993 cc, V6 diesel, twin turbo
Power: 180 kW @ 4 000 rpm
Torque: 600 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Top speed: 180 km/h
0-100 km/h: 9.6 sec
6-speed automatic, permanent four-wheel drive, high- and low range, automatic electronic centre and rear diff locks
Independent double wishbone springs front and rear
Ventilated disk brakes
Tyres: 255/55 R19
Ground clearance: 31 cm (highest setting)
Approach angle: 37.2º
Departure angle: 29.6º
Immersion depth: 70 cm
Vehicle mass: 2580 kg
Fuel tank: 86 litre
9.3 litre/100 km (combined cycle)
Carbon emissions: 293g/km
Warranty: 3 year/100 000km;
Service plan:5 year/100 000km
Service interval: 12 000km/6 months
Price: R725 000
We like …
• The engine is a gem.
• The Disco 4 makes you look twice.
• The interior is extremely luxurious.
• The 19-inch wheels are meant for tar.
• All those electronics in the bush. Hmm….
Toyota Prado VX D4-D – R637 900;
BMW X5 3.0d – R666 000;
Porsche Cayenne diesel – R680 000
Drive Out says:
This is an impressive vehicle. But the 19-inch tyres mean that it’ll never be able to
reach its full potential off-road. And that’s very sad. Unless of course, you only want to use it to visit shopping malls and the Griqua Stadium.
The conclusion …
In other markets the Discovery 4 is available with 17-inch tyres if you want. In other words, the people at Land Rover SA believe our market is only interested in 19-inch tyres. Somewhere somebody’s got the wrong end of the stick.
Originally published in DO#41 | December 2010