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Disco in the Borders
The flags were flying in Galashiels, Coldstream and Kelso as I drove through those towns recently in the new Land Rover Discovery. Alas, these colourful chains of bunting were not in appreciation of the Discovery 4 but for the Common Ridings that take place each year.
The new Discovery might be worthy of a fanfare of trumpets or indeed a flypast by the Red Arrows, as it is in my opinion the best one ever. I can recall being equally enthusiastic about this British-built car when the last effort was launched, as it put right all the little annoying idiosyncrasies that ‘Disco’ owners knew of only too well. This model went on to win more than 100 international awards, yes it was a world beater.
Now, with the Discovery 4 there is much more to this car than the perfunctory changes to headlights, bumpers and grille that is often the qualification of a new model. On the surface, the Disco has been given a new face and its grille is now of a horizontal aspect thus imparting a softer look than the tall and functional previous “H” arrangement. Its headlights and rear lenses have LED daytime running lights that sparkle like diamonds in the front and rubies in the rear.
But apart from this prettification of the exterior the real Disco 4 begins its journey under the bonnet and in its passenger cabin. The new interior has been dramatically changed and it has a much more premium feel about it. I dare say it might even be likened to that of the Range Rover or Range Rover Sport and it has simple but significant features such as LED interior mood lighting that cast halos around interior door handles and pockets.
It is clearly a car that is not going to welcome muddy boots as its carpets are not made of rubber but for farmers that are looking for a good, solid vehicle with decent ground clearance and the ability to do serious off-roading the Disco should be considered.
I liked being behind the wheel of this vehicle and felt comfortable with the logic of switches in the console that is now inclined towards the driver and the heated steering wheel with it’s remote audio and cruise controls. It is a truly perfect and comfortable environment.
On the road the Discovery 4 has never been better. The ride quality, handling and smooth flow of power is pleasingly excellent and there is hardly any noise ingress in the cabin. I am proud that this British-built. Engineers have lowered the car’s centre of gravity with new suspension knuckles and the effect is that the Disco 4 does not feel that it is about to lose grip on corners.
It is unlikely that owners are going to risk taking their £35k+ Discovery along tree-enveloped burns and up and down tight, muddy tracks but I went off-road on the Duke of Roxburghe’s land where a Land Rover Experience course has been constructed. They say the course has been “naturally engineered”, however, it is the best and longest that I have ever encountered and the Discovery did not falter on the way.
Mind you it is all done through the in-built technologies although there is a little driver skill involved. I suppose you must have faith that hill descent control is going to do its job, especially when the bonnet is rocking over a near-vertical precipice and you are reminded to keep your feet firmly planted on the floor and under no circumstances touch the brake pedal.
Disco 4 has one other trump card in its superb new three-litre diesel engine that has been co-developed with Jaguar. It is smooth, implausibly quiet and powerful. It will also please those, whose buying criteria include economy and emissions, which have been improved on both counts.
There are many more features to this car such as towing assist, surround cameras, keyless entry and automatic high beam assist but more than anything the Discovery 4 has matured into a rather more sophisticated and refined vehicle that is gradually losing its utilitarian status even though it is a worthy mountain rescue vehicle.
Cost: from £34 495 - £47 695
Engine: 3.0 TDV6
0-60mph: 9 seconds