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Land Rover Discovery Reviews - TDV6, V8 Disco 3

Land Rover Discovery 3 G4 Review

There was an open opportunity to take part in the first G4 1 day challenge which I just could not let pass.

LR has made the G4 accessible (via online applications) to the general public. It is a VERY scaled down version of the real thing intended to get the general public to feel the spirit of the G4 without excessive pain and without being a super human.

The challenge takes place in Northern Gauteng at various locations, using the new Land Rover Discovery 3.

Challenge itself:

There where 6 teams of 4 people.

The challenge had a mix of driving tasks and physical tasks - the physical tasks included your typical survivor type activities, with added mountain biking with navigation , some running and navigation, geocaching, kayaking, puzzle building, off-road driving we also had a cooking competition and micro fine driving: We had to get a bonnet mounted lance inserted in a hole in a box - with 10mm clearance around the lance - this was against the clock and there was a matrix of 16 boxes on a rooftop parkade - interesting with 6 vehicles dashing around using 2 way radio navigation form a team member sky balloon.

Our team (Team Thailand) won this challenge by maintaining a constant performance throughout. Out score goes on a list and at the end of the year the top 4 teams compete again.

Vehicle: The closest I have been to a D3 was walking past one. Having the Landyonline Workshop I get the opportunity to drive all sorts of vehicles (Usually only the ones out of warranty) so I have a reasonable idea of the various vehicles available.

The first impression of the D3 is that it is miles ahead of the D2 in most departments. It is a totally new vehicle with no carry overs from the previous models.

During a task on the Monte Casino roof top I drove the top of the range V8 in a quick stop-start scenario requiring a lot of forwards backwards driving and careful steering. Everything works well, it takes a moment to take off but just when you are having fun you got to stop again. It behaves very well for such a huge vehicle. The total absence of a traditional hand brake is very weird indeed...you press a button on the dash to apply the hand brake...then just drive off when you are ready, the handbrake releases itself.

There are a lot of toys to play with inside, the voice controlled navigation system is stunning (note: voice controlled as well as voice prompted - just say "go home" and it navigates you home...

The rest of the challenge used TDV6 base model D3's. The "dial-a-terrain" button is a way to help those with no off-road knowledge to drive off-road with reasonable safety and success. Unfortunately (for people like me that like to choose stuff) there is no manual adjustment option an no manual override of any of the electronic systems. The market focus is however not at those that are keen off-roaders, but rather at the "lifestyle" type people.

The challenge was reasonably busy so I did not get a whole lot of time to study the finer details of the off-road ability. The independent suspension (A first on full size Land Rovers) does seem to traverse rough terrain quite easily, but it's axle articulation did not seem to be excessive, the traction control took care of airborne wheels and prevented traction loss - there was no noise or complaining from the vehicle when doing this.

The steptronic type transmission and engine combination works extremely well together, the engine revs effortlessly. With the vehicle doing about 80 km/h you can select 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th and work your way down and the vehicle does not jerk or shake, the rev counter simply moved up or down according to the gear...you hear and feel nothing...until you accelerate and it all wakes up nicely and works very well - the change up is exceptionally smooth and unnoticeable with no jerk forwards or backwards, the kick down is equally smooth and happens when it should without you hoping it will happen soon.

Behaviour at speed is great. One of our team members had never driven a big vehicle (like the D3, D2, D1) before and thought that it had a bit of body roll, on the other hand I thought it was exceptionally good based on the performance of previous models. The inside of the D3 is very spacious, significantly more than the D2, that boxy look from the outside pays off inside.

I never go a look under the bonnet, but if the Td5 is anything to go buy it would have made no difference as it is probably also a big plastic cover over everything.

One thing is for sure, the D3 is not a vehicle you want to own out of warranty - it has a great deal of electronics onboard, while the engine and gearbox ECU's of previous models are actually very reliable the additional ECU's used can potentially bankrupt even the most affluent of owners. Even if all the ECU's work ok, they are all connected to all sorts of sensors and crappy electronic devices. I may be speaking out of turn here but LR seems to have a knack to bungle things up even when good brand names are used. Take the D2 auto box - it is a ZF box with a ZF gear position sensor - LR managed to mount the aircon water drain pipe above it so it gets water dripped on it continuously so it dies. The D2 has a Wabco air suspension system, Wabco is a very popular industrial brand - but in the D2 it is a hopeless mess that costs a lot of money to repair.

Let's hope that the D3 has good components that are well installed and properly engineered - it certainly feels as if everything is very happy and working nicely together - as a whole, the D3 is far ahead of the D2.

Michael Schwarz of Johannesburg on the new Discovery 3

So I got a demo Disco 3 last weekend. I Decided to head out to the farm and see what it could do. Firstly, this thing is huge! There were six of us and everyone kept marveling at the amount of space. I tried sitting in all 3 rows and was comfortable in any seat. The biggest surprise was the refinement onroad. That 4.4l V8 is a peach. The auto box changes gears almost imperceptibly and the air suspension does an amazing job of suppressing bumps and potholes.

The suspension is height adjustable as can be seen here:

On the way to the farm I set the cruise to 135 and saw consumption of about 13 l/100km on the OBC. Not too shabby. When we reached the farm it had been raining and we headed off to an area that had recently been ravaged by a fire to check out the damage. This area also contains a 4x4 only route. The trail is very rocky with many loose boulders. Time to put the Disco in rock crawl mode. This was amazing! The suspension rises to maximum height and the throttle map is changed so that you are able to use the full travel of the pedal to modulate your speed very accurately while not going very fast at all. The brakes also intervene at the first sign that the car is about to "run away" on descents. Just as we reached the point on the trail where backing out was not an option the weather changed very suddenly. The photo left was taken at about midday!

Then it started to hail. And I mean hail! The racket was tremendous.

At this stage the lack of visibility (from the hail) became a problem. Still the Disco eased forward limited only by the driver's inability to see and the passengers' reluctance to stand outside being pelted by hailstones (which were now large enough to cause damage to the car) and provide guidance.

After what seemed like hours the hail eased and we were able to complete the now very slippery trail without incident. I was impressed. This went way beyond what I would ever set out to do and the Disco performed faultlessly. But the real adventure was just about to start. The area we had been playing in was on an elevated part of the farm. To leave the farm we had to travel down into a valley and up again to reach the gates. As we got back to the sand road we needed to travel on the problem became apparent. Due to the devastation caused by the fire there was nothing to slow the huge amount of water which had fallen in such a short time. To make things worse the rain and hail started again even harder than the first time. We watched streams form all around join to become muddy rivers. The easiest place for these rivers to form was on the roads. It was eery feeling 3 tons of offroader shimmy and shake as the soil was washed out from around the wheels. The hail had also increased in size and the car was taking a real pounding.

There was no cover for miles and the only option was to creep up onto an island of ground which was out of the water and wait it out. This ground had a thick covering of hail on it but a twist of the knob to set things for slippery conditions and the Disco climbed out of the water without a murmur. We watched this dam go from empty to almost full in less than half an hour!

Eventually the water slowed to the point where we could make our way off the farm on the now badly damaged roads. When we got back to the road we were only able to travel a short distance before being forced to turn around as the authorities had closed the road due to the amount of ice on it. So I got to test the Disco in conditions I would do my best to avoid if possible. And it came through with flying colours. I'm convinced!

Michael was convinced and purchased the Silver V8 HSE..

Photos/Text courtesy Michael Schwarz and found on www.thelandroverchronicles.com 

Peter Stewart, ZA-LRO, New Discovery SII

A breath of unadulterated fresh diesel fumed air! 

Had the opportunity on Saturday to drive a new Disco II V8 a bit thru some interesting obstacles. Here are my 'unadulterated' observations:

The motor is ohso smooooottthhh. The new Disco feels very solid and finish looks quite good. We ploughed thru some nice mud and up and down slippery slopes and it managed quite nicely. the tail end did not seem overly prone to scraping - the tow bar thingamajig catches first so damage to bodywork is minimized. The traction control is quite amazing if you are used to driving a Landy without an axle difflock (if you can stomach the electronics).

There are some good axle twisters and both myself, a TDi 90 and a Suzuki got ourselves hung up with two wheels in the air. I idled thru with the Disco II with my clutch foot flat on the floor and as little gas as possible and the wheels lift, they spin in the air a little, stop and pass traction to the wheels on the ground - interesting to watch. So much for Andrew Saint whatever Prego's review - alltho he did admit the thing was faulty. We went thru some good dongas with some sandy twisters climbing out and there also it managed ok. About the diesel versus petrol thing the I did get the impression that the diesel could crawl quite a bit slower over obstacles - seems to be the better off for torque there. I thing the gearing in first low range is different between the two. The Disco II and Craig's 90 TDi both climbed quite a steep rocky wall. The Disco made it up with quite a bit of gunning and spinning although to be fair it is blessed with the stock Mitche@#$%^& tyres whereas the 90 has Contis - the 90 just about idled up. We tried the hill descent goodie down a steep slope and it seems to work ok if you like driving automatics. 

In summary if you have the money and have been thinking about buying a new J**p Grand Red Indian for the sake of its version of traction control and fanciness but haven't cos you like Landys then buy the Disco II - it should not disappoint. For me I was impressed, I don't have the bucks and I prefer manual control over what's locked and what's not but there is a generation of guys who have secretaries who answer the phone, tea girls who make the tea, garden boys who mow the lawn and in the same vein just wants to put foot to get through the mud without bothering too much about the mechanics and will call in a chopper to airlift it out if it dies - then enjoy it. You will score what I feel to be the more superior suspension - nothing independent.

Land Rover Discovery 3 Tyre Review
Why I bought a Land Rover Discovery - EA Bradley

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