Steering Column 08.05.09

A fine Discovery

As promised in a previous Steering Column, I’m going to look a bit more in depth at a few cars from Land Rover that have just been launched and have captured my attention, starting with the latest and fourth generation of the Discovery – known logically enough as the Discovery 4.

Amazingly enough this “mid-range” four-wheel-drive family car now has one of the most torquey and fuel efficient engines of its type in this class. It pumps out a hugely muscular 600Nm of torque along with 243bhp in power, and yet it has an average fuel consumption of just over 30mpg.

It is down to the new TDV6 engine – a three-litre twin-turbo unit that’s just under 10 per cent more fuel efficient, 29 per cent more powerful and endowed with 36 per cent more torque than the smaller outgoing 2.7 TDV6 and now has EU5 compliant emissions control.

It is still no sports car, taking 9.6 seconds to reach 62mph, but it will go almost everywhere you want it to go, and it can pull a braked trailer up to 3.5 tonnes in weight.

The people at Land Rover say there have been improvements to “virtually every aspect of the vehicle’s design and engineering”. Pretty good considering the outgoing Disco 3 has over 100 different awards.

It’s got a freshened outside look, that more efficient engine, seven seats and new techy stuff to make the most of on and off-road driving. It further blurs the line between it and the top-of–the-range Range Rovers and I’m not sure why you’d want more.

A cut above

If you did want more though, there’s a new Range Rover Sport on the market with, for the first time, the option of a diesel engine – that nice 3-litre you’ve just read about in the Discovery 4.

There’s also a massive V8 petrol engine with a displacement of no less than five-litres available. It is supercharged to crank up the power to a huge 503bhp and the torque up to a wall-climbing 625Nm. Fuel economy and emissions are not great, even though they’re better than the outgoing model. You’ll get on average no more than 18.9mpg and the carbon dioxide emissions are right up there at 353g/km.

There’s now a paddle-shift available on the six-speed automatic gearbox that comes as standard to make the 2010 model more responsive and, as they say, dynamic. It is designed to be primarily a sports tourer but with some off-road ability too.

Outside its got clean, low-slung looks to it and inside it is as slick as a very slick thing indeed with lots of leather, wood and metal in evidence. It is clearly primarily designed as a butch road car but you can pump up the suspension if you’re taking on the ruts.

King of the heap

If you do need the ultimate in luxury combined with the ultimate in off-road ability, the new Range Rover has to be on the shopping list.

It is the most expensive and the best looking beast of the bunch. Square and solid, it is still very similar outside to the outgoing model and the existing V8 diesel engine is retained, but we have that new petrol engine from the Sport to consider as an option.

The interior is still everything you’d expect from a luxury car, but there are new “virtual dials” for the driver to play with, all built into a new touch-screen information and entertainment package.

The beasts have always been incredible off-roaders as well as solid road cars, and they’ve come a long way in the last decade. My old Range Rover has a BMW V6 diesel engine in it that has 134bhp on tap. This latest diesel model turns out exactly twice that amount. That’s called evolution.

Mike Grundon


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