Celebrating its 25th year in service, the Land Rover Discovery copped a host of updates for the 2014 model-year, the most notable being an eight-speed auto transmission on all models. Other changes include a shift in identity with the ‘4’ being dropped from the nameplate so it’s simply called Discovery. Also, the Land Rover lettering that has adorned the bonnet of all previous models, has been replaced with a Discovery badge.
This shift heralds a new line of Discovery vehicles as it becomes its own sub-brand. The replacement vehicle for the Freelander 2 – due in 2015 – is expected to join the Discovery family and be badged as Discovery Sport.
The latest Disco is also the first model in the nameplate’s 25 year history not offering a V8 engine. The Rover 3.5L V8 was the original Discovery power-plant followed by bent-eights from Jaguar, but the 2014 top-spec petrol offering will be a new, 250kW supercharged V6 from the Jaguar/Land Rover stable.
The new petrol engine wasn’t in Australia in time for our Fraser Island adventure back in March but we did secure one of the first Discos to wear the new badging for the trip, an SDV6 variant.
The SDV6 is driven by the 600Nm/183kW 3.0L turbo diesel V6 engine which, without yet driving the new supercharged petrol V6, is the pick of the Disco power-plants. It’s backed by the smooth shifting eight-speed ZF automatic – lifted from the Range Rover models – that’s rolled out across the Disco lineup. The extra ratio in the transmission contributes to a reduction in fuel consumption, to 8.8L/100km combined cycle.
A range of driver assistance and safety features are also new to the 2014 Discovery. These include; wade sensing, blind spot monitoring, closing vehicle sensing, reverse traffic detection and T-junction cameras. Wade sensing is a $340 option and was fitted to this test vehicle. It uses cameras mounted in the exterior door mirrors to monitor water depth as you cross rivers and creeks and alert the driver if they need to raise the suspension height. The Discovery has an 800mm wading depth.
On top of that, we were packing a heavy load for the Fraser Island trip, what with a photographer, videographer and publisher in tow.
We crammed fishing rods, tripods and bug-spray into every nook and cranny of the Disco’s opulent cabin. The Land Rover made a great early impression with its ability to swallow all our gear. The split rear tailgate enabled us to shift small items like cameras in and out of the rear compartment easily via the top window. This configuration beats the single swinging door or single lift-up door at the back of other 4x4 wagons.
The driving position is unmistakably Disco: high and proud with visibility bettered only by a ride-on lawn mower – with the bonus of luxurious, cream-coloured leather seating. The power delivery is smooth, with the gear changes on the 8-speed gearbox barely noticeable.
We hooked up with our 4x4 industry cohorts at Hervey Bay, many of whom were in full battle dress 4x4s riding higher than an Imperial Walker – with more bolt-ons than a Sherman tank. We were instantly afflicted with ‘aftermarket envy’ in our bog-standard Land Rover. How would we ‘keep our own’ on Fraser Island, amongst the industry-prepped big boys?
The answer was in the glove box, hidden in a neat little book entitled ‘Owner’s Manual’. Raise height of vehicle 55cm: check. Activate depth sounder: check. Activate beach driving function, AKA cactus control: check. Activate low-range: check. Retain manhood and off road credibility: check.
We might not have looked the part, but the Discovery delivered the goods. It ran
up and down the conga line of industry battle-wagons with aplomb.
It never got bogged, it rarely bottomed out, and it even drew the admiration of some industry vet’s with its sure footedness in the soft stuff. And all of this fresh from the factory floor, without a single trip to an aftermarket workshop for plastic surgery. Not a bad effort at all.
- Engine: 24V turbodiesel V6
- Capacity: 2993cc
- Max Power: 188kW @ 4000rpm
- Max Torque: 600Nm @ 2000rpm
- Gearbox: eight-speed automatic
- 4X4 System: dual-range full-time
- Construction: monocoque on frame
- Front suspension: Independent; air springs
- Rear suspension: Independent; air springs
- Wheel/tyre spec: 255/55R19
- Kerb Weight: 2565kg
- GVM: 3240kg
- Payload: 675kg
- Towing capacity: 3500kg
- Seating capacity: Seven
- Fuel tank capacity: 82.3 litres
- ADR fuel consumption*: 8.8 litres/100km
- Base Price**: $84,900
- Price as tested**: $99,490 (with options)
*Australian Design Rule ‘Combined-Cycle’ claim
**Prices do not include government or dealer costs
Click here to read the full range review of the Land Rover Discovery