The new Land Rover Discovery 4 makes long strides ahead on previous models in terms of power and reliability.

Story By Mick Matheson

Land Rover has really made inroads with its Defender, this fourth-generation version proving to be a beauty. It might not look much different from the Discovery 3 but the 4 is a long stride ahead. On and off road, it has performance and features that are difficult to match at anything like the same price.
Refinement is a given and its technical prowess is impressive. The Discovery is a luxury car with genuine off-road skill. So when you realise it is priced in the same region as Toyota’s ever-popular Prado, you wonder how they can do it.
The Disco 4 introduces a new 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine to the mix, alongside the base model’s simpler 2.7-litre turbo-diesel and the fast, fabulous petrol-powered 5.0-litre V8. All are matched to auto gearboxes only. The V8 is only sold in the top-spec, $130,000-odd model and is reason enough to envy the well-heeled. For most of us, the choice will come down to the 2.7 or the SE-spec’s 3.0. There’s a more luxurious HSE 3.0, too.
The 3.0 V6 has twin turbochargers and feels it. Unlike most of the previous twin-turbo systems, this one is a sequential set-up, meaning one turbo looks after boost at lower engine speeds before the larger one takes over to pump more air into the engine at higher revs. It’s a Prado-killing engine, eating its opponent with 160kW of power and 600Nm of torque – in other words, it’s chock full of effortless grunt. It’s impossible not to like this powerplant.
And it uses only a few tenths of a litre more fuel than the 2.7, which tends to need just under 14L/100km. The main advantage of the 2.7 is its cheaper entry price – $13,500 less than the SE. You lose out on a few of the luxuries but get the same essentials. However, there’s arguably a better reason to opt for a 2.7 – tyres.
The base model is the only one with 17-inch wheels, providing a massive choice of suitable off-road rubber. The 19s on the SE are a handicap, although, strange as it sounds, if you opt for the 20-inch wheels you’ll be slightly better off because that size is stronger in the US market, where a lot of the best four-wheel-drive tyres come from.
The 2.7 has little more than two-thirds the power and torque of the 3.0 but is still powerful enough for general use. All the power in the world is no good when your lightweight 19-inch tyres have been staked, so the 2.7 is a smart way to go.

This story excerpt is from Issue #71

Outback Magazine: June/July 2010