Land Rover claims that the Discovery 4 is the most capable Land Rover ever built (as well as the most awarded), and they don’t mean that purely in off-road terms. In fact, driving the Disco 4 on tar is where the improvements made on the Disco 3 are most noticeable.
The suspension, brakes and steering have all been revised, and this is instantly noticeable on the road, as is the increased power and refinement of the 3,0-litre TDV6 engine. Producing 180 kW and 600 Nm, this is definitely the pick of the range, over the 5,0-litre V8 that produces 276 kW and 510 Nm (and only arrives in South Africa in January 2010). The TDV6 uses twin turbochargers, the first time this has happened on a v-engine, and this means no turbolag, and near-instant acceleration. Six-speed automatic gearboxes are standard with both engines.
Off-road the Disco is slightly better than its predecessor, thanks to tweaks made to the Terrain Response system. It still has the same five settings for different terrains, but “sand launch control” has now been added to the sand mode, which makes for noticeably easier drive-away on, yes, sand. And revisions to the rock crawl program improve brake and traction control response times, helping to reduce the vehicle’s tendency to roll when traversing boulders and giving a more composed drive through rocky terrain.
The Hill Descent Control system has been given Gradient Release Control, which basically makes descending hills smoother and more controlled.
The interior is now classier, with a more premium feel to it and a more practical layout to the cabin. Just one feature is that the Terrain Response dial has been moved so that it is easier to access when the vehicle is in gear. A small thing, but one that makes a considerable difference.
Four models in three spec levels are available, and the prices are as follows:
3.0L TDV6 S R595 000
3.0L TDV6 SE R645 000
3.0L TDV6 HSE R725 000
5.0L LRV8 HSE R720 000
Range Rover Sport
And while the Discovery 4 might be the most capable Land Rover ever built, the new Range Rover Sport is definitely the most enjoyable to drive, and probably the most eye-catching too, especially in the electric Bali Blue.
Design-wise the Sport looks very similar to its predecessor, with a few subtle changes that refine the appearance, rather than alter it.
As with all Land Rovers, the Sport CAN go off-road. Land Rover doesn’t hide behind that fabricated statistic that claims that 99% of 4×4 owners never drive off the tar, and the Sport has been given the entire Terrain Response system, including the new “sand launch control” and altered rock crawl mode that the Disco has got.
And if you turn the Terrain Response system dial all the way to the left, you put the vehicle into what is called the “Dynamic Program”. This means increased agility and responsiveness thanks to changes in the Adaptive Dynamics suspension system, while the accelerator pedal mapping, stability control system and gear-change settings are also given more sporting characteristics.
Two engines are available in South Africa: the 3,6-litre turbodiesel V8 has been retained, while a new 5,0-litre supercharged V8 moves the vehicle into a new stratus of excellence.
Based on the Jaguar V8, but with some tweaks to make it viable off-road, the Supercharged version produces 375 kW of power, and 625 Nm of torque. Acceleration is staggering, taking the car from standstill to 100 km/h in just 6,2 seconds, while the top speed is 225 km/h.
The diesel might not be as quick, but it is a brilliant cruiser, and has wonderful torque (640 Nm, to go with the 200 kW of power). And, obviously, it is far more economical, with claimed fuel consumption of 11,1 l/100km, as opposed to the petrol’s 14,9 l/100km).
The interior has been comprehensively redesigned, using higher quality materials, soft-touch finishes and superior craftsmanship to create a premium environment, which buyers of this sort of vehicle have come to expect.
A host of other technology has also been included on the sport, such as a camera system with five cameras (for parking and towing), clever headlights that brighten when no cars are in front of the vehicle, an improved and safer tow-assist program, a new audio system and so on.
There are just two, very well specced, models in the Range Rover Sport lineup, and they are priced as follows:
TDV8 R934 500
5.0L Supercharged R961 000
Another big announcement that was made with the launch of these two new models is a major change to Land Rover’s maintenance plan. It has been extended to 5-years/100 000km, and is a full plan where the owner contributes nothing for the full period.