It’s a shame that the majority of Range Rover owners do not take their precious set of wheels off the beaten track. It’s gross injustice to the superlative off-road capabilities of that icon that it has to spend its life being valeted at mall parking lots and marble-paved porticos of posh hotels. But things were different with the Land Rover Discovery. With its boxy, rugged looks and less luxury trappings than the Range Rover, the previous generation Discovery had always seen its owners venturing out into the wilderness.
However, as I said in last week’s review, the new Discovery, especially in the top banana First Edition trim, blurs the line between a land Rover and a Range Rover. This could well lead to the Discovery meeting the same fate as its more premium sibling and end up languishing in the urban jungle. If it does, it’s hugely unfair as under the refined and sophisticated looks and the luxurious cabin, there’s an incredibly capable off-roader.
It features an intelligent permanent four-wheel drive system with a standard two-speed transfer case featuring a low-range gear set. It also comes equipped with the Terrain Response 2 system that helps optimise the engine, transmission, centre differential and chassis according to the terrain. While the driver can select from a number of terrain-specific modes by simply turning a knob on the centre console, leaving it in auto sees the Discovery automatically choosing the most appropriate drive mode by monitoring the terrain. Additionally, it features a system called All Terrain Progress Control that helps drivers select and maintain a steady speed over rough and challenging terrain using the cruise control buttons.
The 360-degree camera system is also quite handy under these circumstances, but after a short session of kicking up sand, it ceased to work on a couple of occasions, even on Tarmac and just displayed a warning (see photo above). That minor electronic glitch aside, taking the Discovery off road is a highly rewarding experience.