Motoring

Disco Delight

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We take Land Rover Discovery 4 to the ultimate testing ground – the no-nonsense Cederberg in the Western Cape, which has spat out many a wannabe pavement hopper.

Our journey begins with a refreshing dip in the White River pools on the famed Bain’s Kloof Pass, giving the Disco’s handling an early test on twisting roads. Old models had the tendency to be top-heavy around corners; in the case of a friend’s experience, quite combustible at times as well. 

The latest 2012 offering, however, is a far cry from the dark days of Land Rover under Ford ownership; one gets the feeling that no expense was spared by new owner, Tata, with fine-leather dash, tastefully designed gizmos, together with a knock-out engine: things are certainly looking up.

Once you are on gravel, you realise just what this car is all about. In fact, at times handling is improved on gravel compared to bumpy tar roads. If everyone had a Discovery 4, I would not see the need to tar roads, as you may as well be in your living room having coffee – 
it is that smooth off-road. 

The top-of-the-range 3L V6 HSE Twin Turbo Diesel model that was on offer has great power, but is surprisingly light on juice – keeping the bunny huggers content. 
In the spirit of the Land Rover badge, we decided to find a remote campsite near the road, spending most of the night singing its praises. This version of the famed off-roader has all the trims of a limousine and the heart of a lion. 

In really sticky situations, one can raise the suspension, with various road surface options. We couldn’t find a road that the Disco couldn’t handle with aplomb. And if you can find an open piece of ground, take off the traction control; you’re in for some tail-sliding fun and games (though this is recommended for advanced drivers only). 

The off-road heritage of Land Rover really comes through with this vehicle, something that can’t be replicated overnight.
And she’s a head-turner, too, far more attractive than earlier models. 

One of the best features on the car is the lack of a particular feature. In most cars you drive these days, especially Toyotas, an irritating alarm blurts out when it thinks you are doing something wrong or cornering too fast. With the Disco, she is too busy trying to put the power down and get you going in the intended direction to bother with all that nagging. 

This is indeed a driver’s car. At R800k for the exec model, it’s a bargain. I struggle to see many off-roaders keeping up with this specimen in hard conditions. 

Photograph: Ian Goodes

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