The new Land Rover Discovery put through its paces, Ray Massey goes off-road in Utah
Balancing on two side wheels on a perilously steep rock face helped concentrate my mind on the extreme off-road capability of Land Rover’s versatile new Discovery 4x4.
I was performing a rock crawl. The hill control held me in position and stopped me falling back as I edged inch by inch to the top of the scarily steep, undulating rocky incline.
Few vehicles on the road would manage that, so it’s hats off to the engineering underpinning the new fifth-generation Discovery.
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Rock steady: Ray Massey pushes the new Land Rover Discovery to the limit of its 4X4 capability in Utah
Rock’n’roll as Ray attempts some extreme off-roading in the new Land Rover Discovery
Most family customers will never tap more than a fraction of its amazing off-roading potential. But it’s reassuring to know that the capability is there.
This is the new Land Rover Discovery on sale now priced from £43,495.
I tested the seven-seater in the real wild west — the desert and mountains of Utah and Arizona — because the new Disco will be a huge export earner for post-Brexit Britain.
The U.S. is Jaguar Land Rover’s third-largest market after the UK and China. It had 20,000 advance orders — 4,000 in Britain — before hitting showrooms this week.
Curvier and better looking than any predecessor, the Disco also has greater ground clearance and better technology.
Horse power: Ray Massey adapts to the wild west in the wild new Discovery
Side on: The fluid lines of the curvier new fifth generation Land Rover Discovery can be seen
Intelligent seat fold is a world-first. It’s a remote control system that lets owners configure the seating via a phone app.
Up to eight devices can hook up to the 3G wi-fi hotspot and there are nine USB ports and four 12v charging points.
A comfortably smart up-market interior, good seating, well laid-out dashboard and panoramic glass roof. A choice of 17 colours. Smart driving aids include a hill descent control and the automatic terrain response setting.
It tows up to 3,500 kg and can wade through water to a depth of 90cm. Autonomous reversing technology helps guide trailers and horse boxes into position.
Its single-cell body is 85 per cent aluminium (43 per cent recycled), making it nearly half a ton (480 kg) lighter, more fuel efficient and lower in CO2 emissions.
Dune buggy – Ray Massey puts the new Land Rover Discovery through its paces at the dramatic Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah
Inside job: The fully-connected new Land Rover Discovery boasts smart interiors
Magnificent seven: A full seven seats or extra boot space mean great flexibility in the new Discovery 4X4
A choice of three engines, each linked to a silky eight-speed automatic gearbox, The six-cylinder 258 bhp Td6 diesel goes from rest to 60mph in 7.7 seconds and averages 40 mpg with CO2 emissions of 189g/km. The supercharged Si6 three-litre V6 petrol unit develops 340 bhp, but manages just 26 mpg with higher CO2 emissions of 254g/km.
The real surprise was the new and feistily frugal two-litre twin-turbo SD4 Ingenium four-cylinder diesel, which is expected to poach sales from rivals.
It is smooth, delivers 240 bhp, goes from rest to 60 mph in eight seconds, with economy of 43.5 mpg and CO2 emissions of 171g/km.
You should spend a lot of time familiarising yourself with the manual — and taking a proper off-road course — to get the best out of this vehicle.
The vast array of options on the high-tech 10in screen takes much head-scratching. It’s not intuitive. I needed help.
And it's not cheap. Prices are from £43,495 for the SD4. But a First Edition version, limited to an initial 600 UK buyers, will set you back £68,295.
It was also a little softer on the road than I was expecting.
Top class: The new Discovery will be a common sight on the school-run
Lone ranger: The new new Discovery against the epic backdrop of Utah – a cinematic setting for countless western movies
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