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New models - Land Rover - Discovery

First Oz drive: Disco 3 hits bull's eye

Same yet different: Discovery 3 shares more expensive Range Rover's looks, ability and size.

Land Rover launches Discovery 3 Down Under - six months before it goes on sale here

11 Nov 2004

AN all-new Land Rover Discovery is something we’ve been anticipating for a long time and the fact it apes the latest Range Rover conceptually, while being in a similar ballpark dimensionally, should come as no surprise.

After all, that’s how the Discovery started in the first place. Enough of the Discovery’s basic essence – a stepped-up rear roof and a familiar slabby, square-sided look – is retained to make the new version easily recognisable.

But the square-edged look is capitalised on to the extent that this is an entirely distinctive large SUV.

Launched in NSW this week, just a few weeks after its international launch, Discovery 3 gets Land Rover’s unitary "Integrated Body-Frame" construction (with an in-built ladder frame), four-wheel independent suspension and more bulk.

In the case of the Discovery 3, as we now all know, a lot more bulk.

In addition to its long-travel, double-wishbone independent suspension, it gets a host of driving aids including the new Terrain Response system – available from SE level upward – that adapts functions such as ride height, differential locks, hill descent control, auto transmission shifting, traction control and engine torque delivery in any of five operating modes to suit particular applications such as regular on-road driving, sand driving or dealing with slick, low-traction surfaces.

Discovery 3 also gets dynamic stability control, electronic traction control and hill descent control.

Height-adjustable full air suspension, adapted from the Range Rover, is available from SE models upwards.

Third-row, forward-facing seats are also a Discovery feature carried over into the new model – standard from SE trim level upwards.

There are three brand-new engine options – a 220kW Jaguar 4.4-litre V8, a 140kW Jaguar 2.7-litre V6 turbo-diesel and a 160kW, 4.0-litre V6 from Ford.

Three different trim levels are available – S, SE and HSE – with all engines available in the mid-series SE. There is no V8 option at the base S level and no petrol V6 in top-tier HSE trim.

All models are equipped with cruise control, (a minimum) six-speaker CD stereo, remote central locking, an alarm, rear parcel shelf, full-size alloy spare wheel, ABS brakes, an electric park brake, six airbags for the front occupants and curtain airbags for crash protection in row two.

Climate control air-conditioning is standard on SE and HSE, and an $850 option on S.

The V8 and the petrol V6 are available in automatic six-speed form only, while the turbo-diesel in S trim also offers a six-speed ZF manual gearbox as a no-cost option.

Dimensionally, the new Discovery is so close to the Range Rover it isn’t funny. The wheelbase is a massive 380mm greater than the outgoing Discovery, which promises a big boost to passenger legroom, while there’s also more height and width.

24 center image The air suspension system gives the Discovery 240mm of ground clearance off the road, while allowing it to settle into a more road-friendly stance on the highway.

Off-road credentials are maintained by an even better wading depth of 700mm, and 260mm (front) and 330mm (rear) of wheel articulation – the same as the old model.

It will be interesting to see how prospective Range Rover buyers view this massive new Discovery even if, as the company says, Range Rover buyers are "different".

Discovery 3 is virtually the same size yet, at more than 2700kg in HSE form, it is certainly heavier – but with a slightly less luxurious presentation, it is priced more accessibly.

Discovery 3 pricing:
Discovery V6 S - $56,650
Discovery TDV6 S - $64,650
Discovery V6 SE - $65,650
Discovery TDV6 SE - $73,650
Discovery V8 SE - $81,650
Discovery TDV6 HSE - $83,650
Discovery V8 HSE - $91,650 Major Discovery 3 options:
Active rear diff lock - $1000
Metallic paint - $1500
Satellite-navigation - $6100
Sunroof/Alpine roof - $3650
Adaptive headlights - $1000
Seven-seat pack (S models) - $3350
Electronic air suspension (S) - $3450
Rear air-conditioning (SE) - $1500
HiIce stereo pack (SE) - $3650
Premium Hi Ice (HSE) - $1950

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