For a city mouse that spends more time behind their desk than behind the wheel, buying a four-wheel drive was not something I planned. But, it happened and now, after living with my new Land Rover Discovery, there’s no going back.
My weekends are no longer limited by a car with three-door access, cramped passenger space and trying to tessellate flat-pack furniture into a boot the size of a tissue box. Instead, I book a campground, load the car and prepare for a 5pm glide away each Friday to get outdoors and escape the Brisbane bubble. This is a far cry from the girl who two months ago drummed her heels at the suggestion of camping over Easter. The Disco wasn’t just a purchase choice; it was a total lifestyle overhaul.
Like a surfer who finds sand creeping into all aspects of their life, I can’t shake the sticks and stones from my floor mats, and the MaxTrax stowed in my lounge room are a dead giveaway of my off-roading obsession.
Now, in case you can’t tell from my position hiding behind the screen, I’m not your stereotypical off-roader. I’m a Lorna Jane wearing, latte sipping, city-gal – but give me leather seats and powerful air-conditioning, and even I can be outdoorsy. That’s probably why I ended up with a Land Rover Discovery; it’s a car that’s as much about style as it is about off-road capability. I mean, even Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge drives a Land Rover. I must confess that the old me didn’t really see the point of 4WDs. After all, don’t all cars have four wheels?
This all changed after a recent trip to k’Gari (Fraser Island), where I was taught the basics of 4WDing with Australian Offroad Academy as part of their Girls Got Grit training course. I ploughed through sand, crossed a couple of creeks and manoeuvred through rainforests – before I could yell Troopy, my 4WDing fire was ignited. I just had to have one and what better souvenir from Fraser Island than my own 4WD in the garage?
Ditching my Hyundai Getz to buy the Disco might not have been the most financially sensible decision I’ve made all year, but now I have the wheels, I can escape the rat-race at a moment’s notice – and you can’t put a price on that! Basically, the Disco gives me access to a mini-holiday with ocean views and beach access, all for the price of my weekly lattes. Given my penchant for weekend escapes, rather than long trips driving across the Simpson Desert, the decision to go with a Land Rover Discovery over other 4WDs was easy. Although, I’m not saying I’ll never go across the Simpson.
Mechanically speaking, Land Rover have been making safe cars since 1947, and the Disco is fairly renowned for its driveability in the city and the country (see, I did my research). I can attest to both, spending as much time driving on-road as I do off. It’s as easy as the flick of a low range switch to move from tarmac to sand. Design wise, everything from the charcoal grill at the front, bright tail lights and perforated leather seats are recognisably part of the Land Rover family. There’s a clear evolution from the old to the new Discovery models, but its signature boxy shape has remained, and for good reason – it’s as timeless as an Audrey Hepburn fashion statement.
Despite a myriad of metallic paint options, I played it safe with white. A few regular off-roaders mentioned that scratches don’t show up as easily on white paint as they do darker colours, and I’m so grateful I listened to their suggestion. Parking sensors and a rear-view camera take the sting out of reverse parallel parking, which is what you want when you drive a big car but live in the city. They prove quite handy off-roading too – “watch out for that tree!”
If there was one area of improvement I could pick on with the Disco, it’s the clearance height. Although, that’s probably more a reflection on my decision to go with the S model with fixed height coil suspension, rather than the HSE with air bag suspension which would allow for adjustable ride height (two months in and I’m talking like a pro. It changes you). Realising my car’s clearance would limit my off-roading adventures; I lifted the car, and found myself an extra 10cm of height. Did you know they could even do that?
I wish solving my own height problem was as easy as an aftermarket lift kit and two days at the mechanics. Standing at 208cm tall, I’d be lost without the Disco’s handles and step to get into the driver’s seat. I don’t think Land Rover make hydraulic city-mouse lifts… yet.
Hannah’s 4WD baby is a Land Rover Discovery 3. For more information on the latest Discovery, click here.
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