No, it’s not some blinged-up Chelsea tractor. Land Rover has treated the Discovery 4 (as it’s now called) to lots of body-coloured finishes where plain black once ruled, plus a restyled nose, twin wing vents and some cool LED lights front and rear. Doesn’t sound like much, considering Land Rover deems it worthy of a new suffix. But there’s more going on under the skin of the new Discovery 4 that makes the real difference.
New tech on the new 2010 Disco? Tell me more!
Headline news is a new engine, related to Jaguar’s new twin-turbo V6 turbodiesel. Power’s up 29% over the frankly slow old 2.7 (which continues at entry level), and torque’s up 36%. Result? Well, 30.4mpg is 9.7% better, and 244g/km is 9% less.
The chassis engineers have been hard at work, too, lowering the lardy Disco's roll centre and smoothing out the primary ride and body control while maintaining the old car’s impressive bump-smothering ability. There are bigger brakes, new off-road software, an uprated six-speed auto-box and variable-ratio steering.
Does it work?
Yes, and brilliantly. The new Discovery 4, finally, is brisk enough that you can enjoy it properly and can recommend it as superlative family transport without the caveat that ‘you might wish it was quicker’. That’s not to say it’ll suddenly outrun 911s, but the TDV6’s new-found urge is immediately apparent, delivering plentiful low-down shove, useful overtaking power and producing a thoroughly tuneful snarl into the bargain.
The new steering means the Disco feels a lot more compact and controllable, and you can actually hustle this frankly massive car along twisting B-roads in a way that would have scared the inevitable out of you before. It changes direction with alacrity and without roll. And while all that’s going on, the ride manages to be comfy, cushty and quiet. A great improvement on an already excellent car.
What about off-road?
As if you have to ask. But then, please do. Because while many people simply say ‘it’s a Landie, take it as read’, we tested the Land Rover Disco 4 by driving it through a river (a proper wide one with big fish in it) then climbing up the bank and ragging it through the kind of rutted, muddy forest you might have been quad-biking in. And it just did it, while we sat inside with the air-con on, listening to Radio 4 and watching what was going on via the dash-mounted touch-screen and the externally mounted cameras.
What do you have to do to prepare the Disco to go off road?
I had to turn a few knobs before all this mud plugging, but then you're ready to go. Twiddle the steering wheel, and feather throttle and brakes here and there, but the Disco made it as easy as falling off a log. Except we never fell off anything.
Come the end of the off-road section, I twiddled those knobs back and lamped it up the road. Even if you're a sports utility vehicle sceptic, this car could irrevocably change your perception of 4x4s.
What’s remarkable here is not that the Disco is so extremely good off-road. It’s that it can do all that muddy stuff and can then be as refined, swift and classy as an executive estate. It’s absolutely mind-boggling.
Is the new Discovery 4 any better inside?
Apparently, despite its immense space and practicality, some people found Disco 3 a touch too utilitarian inside. So this one’s packed with stitched leather, wood and soft-feel everything. In our top-dog HSE spec, at any rate. In fact it looks just like the newly revised Range Rover Sport inside, except it’s more spacious and carries two more seats in the back. Big boot, too.
The new 2010 Land Rover Discovery 4 is brilliant. You’d think that even if you never drove it off road. Yep, it’s far too heavy so you’re going to experience green guilt. But if you genuinely live the kind of lifestyle that means you might use even a tenth of the Disco’s extraordinary off-road capability, towing strength or sheer carrying capacity, you’ll wonder how they do it and make it so light. Or so affordable. I want one.