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Still the best of British - First drives: Discovery 4 and 2010 Range Rover Sport

  • Discovery 4’s cabin has 30% fewer switches than the previous model’s, and a higher standard of finish. - 0
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With new V6 diesel and V8 petrol engines, Land Rover’s 2010 models are staggeringly good all-rounders

The Land Rover Discovery – not very Octane, is it? Well, actually, it is. If you need to transport masses of kit, or kids, and you do some towing – your classic race car, maybe – then you simply will not find a better vehicle than the Discovery. Each generation has had its fans since the first was launched in 1989, and 2010’s Discovery 4 is the most capable yet.We’re not totally convinced about the front end styling changes, which are intended to make the Discovery look posher. To us, the cheese-grater front grille is an unnecessary garnish. But market research says that’s what the customer wants, apparently – and the garnish is not simply dressing up a dog’s dinner. Quite the contrary.For a start, there’s a new 3.0-litre, sequential twin-turbo V6 diesel engine, which is cleaner, more economical, more powerful (29%) and more torquey (36%) than the 2.7-litre V6 it’s based on. And there’s a fabulous new interior, which has been upgraded and at the same time simplified in terms of switchgear and controls. It’s a lovely place to spend time in. A couple of new features could be invaluable if you use Discovery 4 for towing (it can haul up to 3.5 tonnes, don’t forget). First are the all-round TV cameras, which not only show views ahead and behind the vehicle, but to the sides looking down, as well. Primarily intended for off-roading, these cameras are also a boon when reversing. Potentially even more useful is the Trailer Stability Assist system, which corrects incipient trailer snaking by subtle adjustments to the ABS brakes and engine management computer. You can get a real tank-slapper on with a big trailer, and the Discovery will sort it all out for you. Truly astonishing.We don’t need to tell you how the Disco performs off-road, do we? It’s supremely competent, of course, even on ordinary road tyres, and Land Rover’s twist-and-select knob for different conditions is simplicity itself to use. On road it’s pretty good, too, with very little body roll and a decent ride quality. Acceleration is brisk enough and the six-speed automatic gearbox is beautifully smooth.

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