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The Mercury Cars Guide : February 7th 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009 Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au CARSguide —7 Brilliant Disco finds its feet LandRover discoversabetter product equalsabigger audience. Neil Dowling drives the Disco3 L EGENDS are created by vehicles like the Land Rover in much the same way that JohnWaynebecameanicon in the never-ending television war between cowboys and Indians. John Wayne would now roll in his grave. The Indians have taken the legend and are ready to make it their own. No, not John Wayne and the cowboys — the Land Rover. There’s an expectation that things would change as Land Rover’s new owner, the giant Tata conglomerate of India, starts exercising its rights of ownership. But it’s early days. Land Rover is reputed to be a better company over the past few months as Tata peers into its more recent quality issues. Something must be working be- cause Land Rover agents report almost non existent warranty issues with the most recent Discovery 3. That’s welcome news because about the only hiccup I had with Land Rover was its perceived lack of quality. Go back a decade or two and we’re talking rubbish quality. On test this issue, the latest Dis- covery TDV6 SE showed the past issues have been purged. This is simply a brilliant4WDthat is equally as composed and assured in the dirt as on the road. For the price — $75,990 — it is a whopping $8000 cheaper than the Toyota Land Cruiser GXL V8 turbo- diesel and it’s a better vehicle. I wouldn’t have said that 10 years ago. There is no mistake that if this is parked in a supermarket carpark, on a private school verge or halfway up the Canning Stock Route, that this is a serious 4WD. It’s functional to the point of being military and yet there’s something domesticated about it as well. Look howthere’s nospare tyreon the back door (it’s under the chassis rails) so the shape is uncluttered. Inside it’s equally as neat. Func- tionality meets subtle luxury in a cabin that, in the TDV6 SE tested, includes leather and lots of pastel hues with alloy-look trim pieces and interesting arrays of switches and knobs. The Discovery is a seven seater. But it’s a seven seater with a difference because it seats seven adults. Not leprechauns, amputees or kindergarten pupils — real big peo- ple. Granted, it does it with minimal luggage room though there’s enough flexibility to arrange the seats to store an eclectic mix of humans and stowage. The horizontal split tailgate may TERRAIN RESPONSE: The new Land Rover Discovery 3. be a tad old fashioned and be a clumsy two-handed operation, but the fold-down section aids loading heavy luggage and doubles as a seat. In comparison to other makes and models that use the same basic engine, the Disco’s 2.7-litre turbo- diesel gets different electronic map- ping and a single turbocharger with one intercooler. This isa lovely little engine though suffers a tad in the 2.6-plus tonne Discovery. But it gets a reprieve thanks mainly to the ZF six-speed auto with sequential shift and a4WDlow-range ratio that is one of the lowest in the off-road business. The Disco gets LandRover’s famed Terrain Response system. This is basically a Play School panel with bright colours and diagrams — no words, let’s keep it simple folks — allowing the driver to select the terrain, the high or low-range gear- box, the hill descent function or height adjustment courtesy of the pneumatic suspension. In a word, brilliant. Just dial up, go easy on the throttle and any terrain is putty in your hands. ON THE ROAD This is a big machine with a relatively small engine. And it’s a diesel, to boot. But though there can be some initial lag off the mark, it’s a sprightly performer and will more than keep up with most traffic. Unusually, it doesn’t seem to lose its spark when there’s three adults aboard which reflects its meaty torque output. Much of the performance can be aimed at the six-speed auto box that neatly spaces the cogs to suit the low- end power delivery of the engine. Drivers who want to work the box for extra zing may use the sequential mode, though this is suggested main- ly when overtaking, towing or for specific off-road sections. The engine’s quietness and smoothness is so petrol-like that you’ll fool most of your friends.
January 31st 2009
February 14th 2009