Lights Disco

The Discovery lightens up for its thirdgeneration.

WORDS FRASER STRONACH

2017 LAND ROVER DISCOVERY

The Discovery lightens up for its thirdgeneration.

IF LAND ROVER stuck to naming tradition, this all-new Discovery should be called Discovery 5.

However, thatís not the case Ė instead, itís simply called Discovery.

Regardless, this new Discovery is built on its third different platform since its 1989 debut, which has seen it evolve from an old-school 4x4 with a separate chassis and live axles at both ends, to a high-tech aluminiumalloy monocoque with fully independent suspension.

Ironically, both the original Discovery and this latest Discovery owe a lot to the Range Rover; but while the first Discovery was based on an almost 25-year-old Range Rover platform, this new Discovery is built on the latest-generation Range Rover that arrived in 2013.

WHATíS NEW?

VIRTUALLY everything is new compared to the outgoing Discovery, with the V6 diesel engine and the eight-speed automatic gearbox being the obvious carry-over items. Most notably, this new Discovery brings two new four-cylinder diesels, both two litres in capacity but in single- and bi-turbo configurations.

The single-turbo makes 132kW and 430Nm, extraordinarily strong numbers for an engine of that configuration, but it canít be had with a dual-range transfer case Ė youíre stuck with singlerange 4x4. The bi-turbo four makes astonishing numbers for a 2.0-litre diesel, with 177kW and 500Nm, and it comes with dual range.

Given the Discovery 4ís carried-over V6 (previously denoted by an ĎSDV6í badge

but now a ĎTd6í one) makes 13kW and 100Nm more but brings a $7K price premium, this bi-turbo four could be the popular choice for those who insist on dual-range.

Now, if youíre thinking thatís not enough engine for a big car, consider the lightweight aluminium monocoque at the Discoveryís core. Compared to the Discovery 3/4ís separatechassis steel platform, it weighs significantly less; where the Discovery 4 was north of 2560kg, this new Discovery is around 2110kg (with the bi-turbo fourcylinder) and 2220kg (with the V6). This significant weight loss not only helps redress any performance lost going to a four-cylinder engine, but it brings better economy, sharper on-road dynamics and improved offroad ability.

The new 2.0-litre bi-turbo four claims 22kW more than the outgoing TDV6 and only gives away 20Nm, so itís no slouch regardless of the weight savings. It also looks especially good against the 140kW/440Nm 2.7-litre V6 in the Discovery 3 and earlier iterations of the Discovery 4.

WHATíS IT LIKE TO DRIVE?

LAND Roverís Australian launch of the new Discovery took place around Uluru and involved NTís typically smooth and relatively straight bitumen, some easy sand tracks and a set-piece 4x4 obstacle course. So, a taste, but not a comprehensive testÖ thatís still to come.

The vehicles driven were the bi-turbo four and the V6 fitted with dual-range gearing, which comes standard with these engines except in S-spec models. The single-turbo four, or models with single-range 4x4, werenít available to sample.

Driving the bi-turbo four and the V6 back-to-back revealed the four as a brilliant performer because, pedalto- metal, thereís not much between them.

Benefitting from a 110kg weight advantage over the V6, and slightly shorter final drive gearing (3.31 vs 3.21), the four

AUSTRALIAN RANGE AND PRICING*

S TD4 $65,950 S SD4 $71,560 S TD6 $78,271 SE TD4 $77,050 SE SD4 $83,450 SE TD6 $90,161 HSE TD4 $87,150 HSE SD4 $93,550 HSE TD6 $100,261 HSE LUXURY TD4 $100,950 HSE LUXURY SD4 $107,350 HSE LUXURY TD6 $114,061 FIRST EDITION TD6 $131,871 *Five seats models (except First Edition).

Third-row seating adds between $3400 (higher-spec models) and $6400 (lowerspec models).

only gives away 0.2 of a second to 100km/h (8.3 vs 8.1 seconds) and nothing in the 80-120km/h sprint according to Land Rover specs. On the road it feels like it, too. Itís even difficult to split the two on sound.

The similar performance between the Sd4 and the Td6 leaves open the question of an Sd6 down the line, especially given Land Rover has a 225kW/700Nm version of the V6 (as used in the Range Rover Sport) to call upon, as well as the forthcoming inline six-cylinder engine.

Performance aside, this new Discovery has the poise and refinement of the Range Rover, from which it was born.

Itís smooth, quiet, refined and comfortable, almost serene at times. And itís much lighter and more agile on its feet than the notably heavier Disco 4.

Electric power steering brings reduced effort at parking speeds, but itís also positive and reassuring at highway speeds.

All the launch vehicles were fitted with height-adjustable air suspension. For off-road driving, it allows ride height to be raised 75mm Ė from the standard ride-height clearance of 208mm up to 283mm Ė and will hold that at speeds up to 50km/h if need be. Above 50km/h and below 80km/h, it will hold at 40mm above standard ride height.

If the chassis grounds out, it will automatically lift an additional 35mm, while the driver can raise it again an additional 30mm to the topout point as a get-out-of-gaol card. Base-spec models (not driven) come with coil springs as standard and 220mm of ground clearance.

The extra ground clearance courtesy of the air suspension was needed for the 4x4 obstacle course, as was the impressive 500mm of wheel travel. As is the case with the Range Rover and RR Sport vehicles, this is an extremely capable 4x4 platform; although, one that needs the optional rear locker to give its very best. The locker, available across all models provided you also have dual-range gearing, is a bargain at $1080.

The increased wading depth (900mm, or 850mm with coil springs) of this new Discovery is also more than handy.

WHATíS IT LIKE TO SIT IN?

THE new Discovery is very Range Rover Sport-familiar in the layout of the cockpit, controls and switchgear, proving once again the close connection of this Discovery with its upmarket cousin.

The cabin isnít as airy, wide or tall as the Discovery 4, but itís longer than the Disco 4 and rides off a longer (by 35mm) wheelbase. Perhaps this lower,

narrower and longer body was in part driven by the need for reduced aero drag and hence lower fuel use, given todayís preoccupation with fuel efficiency.

As per the Discovery 4, all seven seats can fit six-foot-plus adults, even if the second row doesnít feel quite as roomy.

However, the third row space is impressive, and the middlerow seats have fore and aft adjustment to help tailor the second- and third-row space.

As with the Discovery 4, all the seats fold individually, and power-recline for all the seats is an option on up-spec models.

Thereís plenty of luggage space, accessed via a single top-hinged rear door. Thereís even a faux interior tailgate (it will take 300kg), for those who miss the horizontal-split tailgate of the Discovery 3/4.

AND THE NITTY GRITTY?

THE Discovery is good newsÖ very good news. But Land Rover, while changing everything else, hasnít seriously addressed the two biggest complaints levelled at the Discovery 4 by people who wish to take their Discovery off-road: namely, fuel capacity and wheel/tyre specification.

Remembering that Discovery 4 diesels had an 82.3-litre tank, the new Discovery has 77 litres for the four-cylinder models and 85 litres for the V6. So any fuelrange improvement will have to come through lower fuel use courtesy of the weight savings.

Thereís a similar story with the wheel and tyre spec; although, thereís been a marginal improvement in the critical sidewall height, as slightly taller tyres are fitted for any given wheel size.

As before, 19s are the smallest factory wheel; but where 19s on a Discovery 4 wore 255/55s, 19s on this new Discovery wear 235/65s for a nominal 12.5mm increase in sidewall height. Another way to look at this is that 255/55s are now the standard fitment on the 20-inch wheels rather than the 19s.

The front brake size is consistent across the range and hasnít increased from the Discovery 4, which means any variant can be fitted with factory 19s rather than the 20s which are on most models.

Whatís more, it appears fitting bespoke 18s, as was the case with the Discovery 4, is a real possibility.

We are looking forward to more time behind the wheel of this exciting, interesting and groundbreaking new Discovery.

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SD4

ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl bi-turbo diesel MAX POWER 177kW @ 4000rpm MAX TORQUE 500Nm @ 1500rpm GEARBOX Eight-speed automatic 4X4 SYSTEM Dual-range full-time CRAWL RATIO 45.7 CONSTRUCTION Aluminium monocoque FRONT SUSPENSION Independent/air springs REAR SUSPENSION Independent/air springs GROUND CLEARANCE* 283mm APPROACH ANGLE* 34 degrees RAMP-OVER ANGLE* 27.5 degrees DEPARTURE ANGLE* 30.0 degrees WADING DEPTH* 900mm UNLADEN WEIGHT 2019kg GVM** 2940kg PAYLOAD** 921kg MAX TOWING CAPACITY 3500kg MAX TOWBALL DOWNLOAD 350kg GCM** 6640kg FUEL TANK CAPACITY 77 litres ADR FUEL CLAIM 6.3L/100km *When fitted with height-adjustable air suspension ** Five-seat model