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£48,335 when new
As the brackish water laps gently at the base of the windscreen and a foot-long brown trout nuzzles at my undercarriage, I’m struggling to equate the obvious ability of this application with anything I’d possibly need on my usual drive to work. Point taken, the new Discovery 4 can do adventury, manly things like no other. You can drive up a river, bounce quite happily along the black barrows of jungle-infested Belize or potter along a Saharan dune with no more specialist equipment than a pair of clean underpants - and all by twiddling a knob marked ‘Terrain Response’. But somehow it always seems to me to be a bit of a pre-emptive excuse for being rubbish at doing the normal stuff. Off-road overkill that hopes to obfuscate on-road crapness. “It handles like a dead pig being rolled down a hill.” “Yes. But look at the axle articulation! You’d need that if you were stuck in a ditch in Belize!” “I live in Peterborough.” And so, it is with trepidation that I point the nose of the new improved Disco out of the river and onto the road. And realise that you really can have an acceptable compromise between off-road mountain goatiness and on-road subtlety. Underneath, the Disco has new suspension bits, improved, more direct steering, a more intelligent traction control system and bigger brakes. Roll centres have been lowered, anti-roll bars beefed up, extensive maths expended on the geometry of the suspension. This is still a big car, there’s no getting away from the fact, but the Disco suddenly has, if not agility, then predictability. It goes where you point it reliably, rather than heifering about drunkenly - making it better in every direction that you can readily assess. It also has better body control than before, which adds to the overall effect, and as a result it feels smaller, even though it certainly isn’t.