As I thought about turning into the multi-storey car park, my eye caught the sign: “Maximum Height 6ft 3in”. Fortunately I had checked before and the Land Rover
Discovery was 6 foot 4 inches.... clearly this signified a change of plan!
Yes, the Land Rover
Discovery 4 is a big beast. You actually step up to sit in the driver’s seat, but – once installed – it is a superbly luxurious and commanding place to be. The new interior on Discovery 4 would do credit to a luxury saloon. This makes it even more obvious is how the Discovery has moved upmarket in perfect synchronisation with its more luxurious sibling, the Range Rover.
The Discovery now projects the style and class of yesterday’s Range Rovers. It has even adopted some of the Range Rover’s distinctive features. Since Discovery 3, the tailgate has folded down, like the Range Rover, to provide a suitable perch from which to watch the polo while sipping an ice-cold Pimms.
My road test car was the Land Rover Discover 4 3.0 V6 HSE so it had all the toys right down to the heated steering wheel. Although I kept bumping the gearchange-like paddle that controlled it and inadvertently switching it, in reality this feature was not needed in July. But, having driven a Jaguar with a heated steering wheel in mid-winter, I know how welcome it can be!
The Discovery 4 is big inside as well as out. There are two forward facing seats that fold out of the floor at the back, making the Discovery a full six or, even, seven seater.
But, although, we have established that the Discovery is big, apart from the height in multi-story car parks, I found no problems when nipping around town or tackling cross-country B-roads.
Diverted from the multi-storey, I had to resort to an on-street parking place and I have to say there are many cars more fearsome to manoeuvre into a tight space. The Discovery benefits from the combination of a commanding driver’s view plus rear view camera.
Well, actually, the Discovery has more than a rear-view camera. This vehicle is something of a mobile CCTV unit with two cameras at the front, two pointing down from each door mirror, plus the one at the rear. You can set up how you want to see these cameras in mission control (otherwise known as the dashboard display).
Out on the twisty side roads, for a tall vehicle, the Discovery is quite remarkable how flatly it corners (thanks to the ‘Roll Stability Control’) even during quite spirited driving.
When it comes to leaving the black stuff, the Discovery absolutely excels. While many of its competitors are really only fit for light off-roading, the Discovery will tackle the worst of conditions – if you have the courage to risk muddy footprints, plus undergrowth scratches and mud splatters on your fine metallic paint.
I took the Discovery out on my off-road course and, not surprisingly it romped across the heather moors and rutted tracks with disdain. Indeed, it was only after the first traverse that I realised I had done the whole route with the high-ratio gearbox.
On the centre console is the ‘Terrain Control’ dial that allows you to select everything from normal road use through to “rock crawl”. In my eagerness, I had forgotten to put the Discovery into neutral long enough for the low ratio to engage.
I liked the side view cameras which could help reassure you were not going to graunch the flanks on an errant boulder. Another neat touch is the display that shows, in off-road mode, where the front wheels are pointing. You’d be surprised how often you lose track of where they are pointing when mud plugging.
At more than three tons, you would not expect the Discovery to have lightening performance but this big beast will accelerate from 0-60 mph in a remarkable nine seconds. Combined fuel economy is quoted as 30.4 mpg, but in real life I managed just a shade under 20 mpg in a mixture of town and country driving. CO2 emissions are 244 g/km, putting this Discovery one bracket lower than the entry model in Band L for UK road tax.
All this, of course, does not come cheaply. The price tag on the top-of-the-range test car is £49,140 – some £16,000 more than the entry level 2.7 TD V6 GS.