I bounced around Mongolia once in a Land Rover Discovery. It was about the same time as the Mongol Rally, when people from the UK drive all the way there in cars which have to have an engine smaller than 1-0-litre. Oh and the cars have to be cheap – very cheap!
I’m disappointed that Chevrolet don’t make a 1.0-litre version of the Trax because it seems like the perfect Mongol Rally machine. The original Fiat Panda 4×4 has always been a favourite in the race but not many have survived the test of time.
Like most SUVs, the majority of Trax sold in the UK are going to spend their life on Tarmac. Today I had a chance to run it along some dirt roads and grassy fields – it performed really well considering it was on road tyres.
The short wheelbase and lightweight makes the Chevrolet perfect for uneven ground. OK, it may not be as comfortable as larger sport utility vehicles but with a decent set of off-road tyres, I reckon it would be unstoppable!
Jeremy Just arrived in Southampton for a night at the Pig In The Wall. It’s a hotel that deserves a wacky name because is it so stunningly different. Tomorrow I’m leaving the Discovery at the quayside to catch the ferry to Cowes for a sailing masterclass, with double Olympic gold medalist, Shirley Robertson, for the FT Magazine. Forecast is sunny but I know I’m going to get soaked, one way or the other…
Being down by the coast reminded me that the Land Rover is a brilliant towing machine – something Jessica and I have not had time to put to the test. While she would have pulled a horse box, I definitely would have hitched up to a boat!
The Discovery won its class in the 2012 Towcar of the Year Awards for the third year in a row, beating the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Volvo XC60 and Ford Ranger, to name but a few.
I used a Discovery 3 to pull a small yacht across Ireland in 2008. There was hardly any impact on performance and the Land Rover proved steady at motorway speeds. The Discovery 4 has an eight-speed automatic gearbox instead of a six which I imagine would make it an even better workhorse.
Jeremy – It’s Monday and it’s Yorkshire. A wet 190 miles up the M1 to Knaresborough, a pretty town with a wonderful railway viaduct that towers ominously above our guest house. The Discovery is parked underneath the bridge. Any more rain and I will be looking for the button on the dashboard that operates a propeller.
It wouldn’t surprise me if there is one – the HSE has just about everything else. Included in this is the ‘4×4 info page’ on the sat nav screen. No idea what purpose it really serves, apart from impressing friends who don’t own a Discovery every once in a while.
And have I mentioned the cameras? The Land Rover is a moving CCTV station, with six of them dotted around the car in strategic places. Again, just what they do is baffling. One screen allows all the camera images to be displayed on screen at once. It’s like a scene from a drug induced nightmare. You can see this screen while the car is on the move, yet you cannot operate the TV (for good reason – but why then the six camera images!?).
Jessica is still struggling with the rather harsh blower on the air con. Is there a secret setting we don’t know about?
Jeremy It’s not easy picking holes in an off-roader as good as the Discovery. Some UK car magazines now say the Hyundai Santa Fe (tested on Car Couture earlier this year) is the better machine – it’s certainly more affordable. But when it comes to grunt, secondhand value and all round ability, the Land Rover has the edge.
So what’s not to like about the Discovery? Well, styling is probably the most obvious. I actually think the shape is uncluttered and sharp but parked next to a Hyundai or a BMW X5, it has already started to look a little dated.
Then there is the fuel consumption. The V6 engine produces 255bhp and really gives the Discovery plenty of shove but it also soaks up the diesel. Officially, the Discovery returns 32mpg in the combined cycle but you will have to tread very lightly on the accelerator to get above 30mpg in the real world.
Other faults? Well, both Jessica and I constantly bash the paddle gearshifters on the steering column with our knuckles, which instantly puts the Discovery into manual mode when it is not required. The air con fan is rather harsh for a luxury vehicle and flattening the centre row of seats can be awkward.
Then I start to struggle! This is a great machine – you pay a lot for the pleasure of owning one but the Discovery is still the one to beat for my money.
Jeremy The ‘lost in space’ mobile phone drama continued today as O2 tried everything in their power to make giving me a replacement as difficult as possible. Thank you, O2.
I won’t bore you with the details but it has been trying! I had to have a final search through the Discovery and only found the optional toolbox in the centre armrest this time. Worth every penny in the hot spell I’d say.
While the Land Rover has a heated front screen for fast demisting, I have one complaint with the ventilation system. It is almost impossible to turn the fan down to a comfortable level. The temperature is fine – it’s just that even on the lowest setting, it blows very hard.
Despite a week of fiddling, I can’t say that either Jessica or I have got to the bottom of it. And why when we have the temperature turned up high does it still blow icy cold air of out the vents?
Everything else on the Discovery is straightforward and intuitive. The air con is not.
Jeremy I now know every nook and cranny of a Land Rover Discovery 4. Why? Because today I managed to lose my iPhone at Borth in Wales today and spent a large chunk of the afternoon conducting a forensic search of the vehicle.
The Discovery was packed solid with camping equipment, clothing and the dog, of course. Over the course of an hour, I found every cubbyhole and hiding place, frantically looking for an expensive chunk of metal measuring 5ins by 3ins.
It was all to no avail and for the last seven hours I have felt strangely out of touch. The Discovery has a DAB radio, so despite the remoteness of it all, at least I was able to keep up with the Ashes cricket. Although Australia are playing so well, I wish I hadn’t.
I also took the opportunity to try out the Discovery’s television. I never quite understood why anybody would want a TV screen on the front dashboard because you can only watch it when the vehicle is stationary. For once, it was fun watching the news, as I sat phoneless, looking out to sea and pondering the whereabouts of my iPhone , out there somewhere lost in space…
Jeremy Thunder and lightning are sweeping across Wiltshire today but after a wonderful July it’s going to be flooding next for sure. The Discovery is the perfect machine for this type of weather – as I discovered in Northern Ireland six years ago.
Driving back from the Mountains of Mourne in appalling weather, I came across a family who were stranded in flood water which was lapping up around the side of their Mondeo. I was in a V8 petrol Discovery 3, drinking fuel at 14mpg! However, I was very glad to be in the Land Rover because a guy in an Audi allroad seemed to be going under in his own rescue attempt too.
We managed to pull the Mondeo out but the car was a write-off, with water pouring out of the doors when we reached safety. The allroad survived but the owner was a bit miffed his 4×4 hadn’t lived up to expectations…
I know people who own off-road vehicles and never, ever go further than a muddy field at a party. Having driven across Mongolia twice in a Discovery, I can tell you there are few cars that will get you anywhere AND is such comfort.
Jeremy As predicted, Jessica isn’t too struck on Discovery styling. Even before the Land Rover arrived, she was recounting how her previous experiences with the Discovery hadn’t been too successful.
For once, I was rather smug when she tootled off to the gym this morning because I know the current version is nothing like the last one she drove in 2002. Having rumbled around Mongolia in a Discovery 3 and owned a V8 petrol model for a mad moment (11mpg anybody?), there is no comparison with the dated original.
So by the time she had returned, the latest Disco was receiving rave reviews for it’s performance, comfort and all round good motoring experience.
The square-cut styling, however, left her cold. Because she was brought up in a world of Range Rovers, I can sort of see her point. The Discovery does look a little utility but at least we both agree that it totally does what is says on the tin.