What is it?
This is 2012 model Land Rover Discovery 4, the company’s increasingly Range Rover-esque seven-seater. It has been given a light overhaul, the most important changes being the adoption of modified (more powerful and slightly more economical) versions of the V6 diesel engine, the adoption of a new eight-speed autobox and upgrades to infotainment systems.
However, despite the changes not being flagged up by Land Rover, Autocar has uncovered the fact that the 2012 Discovery has also been fitted with a new variable ratio steering rack (which is not fitted to the 2012 Range Rover Sport) and that the chassis has benefitted from the attentions of Mike Cross, JLR’s ride and handling guru.
What’s it like?
As soon as you pull away and start to guide the Discovery along, it is clear that the steering has improved dramatically. At low speeds the steering has a much weightier, meaty feeling and also produces the sensation that the wheel is connected more directly to the front wheels.
At higher speeds, the new steering set-up is a big part of making the Discovery feel more at home on winding lanes. It now feels less top-heavy, it seems to roll less and generally feels more firmly planted. All of which adds up to make it easier for the driver to place the car on the road.
Although we haven’t been able to try the 2011 and 2012 Discos back-to-back, the ride - previously somewhat stiff legged, also seems to have been very effectively smoothed out. Overall, the ride and handling of the Disco 4 has taken a significant step forward, with the steering making the most dramatic improvement.
The V6 diesel motor remains refined and effortless, helped by the new transmission’s extra two ratios and a longer-striding top gear. This new ‘box also shifts into lock-up mode more quickly than the six-speed ‘box, giving the driver the very distinctive sensation of ‘direct drive’ to wheels more often. If there’s a fault with the new transmission, it is its keenness to shift into the top gear as often as possible.
Should I buy one?
The Discovery is an exceptionally versatile vehicle: a grade-one off-roader, proper seven-seater and rapid and luxurious way to cover distances. The 2012 model sees significant improvements to the ride and handling.