Shipwright Nick Gates explains why the new Land Rover Discovery 4 is a brilliant all-round workhorse in any boatyard
‘I need a vehicle for all seasons!’
When it comes to buying a car, I have a dilemma. On one hand, I work in the marine industry and need a vehicle that can handle towing the considerable weight of a cruising yacht. That same vehicle needs to be easily manoeuvrable around crowded boatyards and be able to handle the rough and tumble of the off-road life.
At the same time, I’m a dad. Whatever vehicle I own has to work as hard for my family as it does in the boatyard.
I have owned five Land Rovers over the past 25 years, and of the numerous cars that I’ve owned in this time, Land Rover is the one brand that I keep returning to. I like Land Rovers’ versatility, the fact that you can go virtually anywhere and do virtually anything with them, yet wherever you are, they always seem to fit in.
Voyage of Discovery
So I was looking forward to driving the latest model, the Land Rover Discovery 4. Would it meet my parallel demands for a workhorse and family saloon?
First impressions were good. Kids mean stuff, and that means you need space. On that score the Discovery 4 delivers, with its huge boot (1,260 litres with the sixth and seventh seats folded down). We’re a very active family, so at weekends, if we’re not sailing, then we’re out and about somewhere – off-roading, cycling, walking or maybe just a visit to the beach. Invariably that means a carload of stuff – double buggy, trike, balance bike, as well as sailing kit, toys and all the other paraphernalia that comes with having two children under four years old.
Unlike our previous car, where the dog only just squeezed in between the two kid’s seats in the back, the Discovery 4 allows us to have three child seats across the back seat. A further two adults can sit in the two folding seats behind the kids and there’s still room in the boot for the dog!
Safety is a primary consideration for our family vehicle. The Discovery 4’s eight airbags are designed to protect the driver and passengers, and its ‘dynamic stability control’ is designed to improve handling and help prevent skidding – it can apply the brakes to individual wheels as required. Combine this with four- wheel electronic traction control and roll stability control, and you have a vehicle that corners like a sports car, albeit a slightly more muscular and solidly built one, weighing 21⁄2 tons.
My partner, Vanessa, was reluctant to drive the Discovery 4, saying she preferred something smaller. Her conversion took approximately two minutes! The Discovery 4 is truly effortless to drive. The six-speed automatic transmission provides silky smooth gear changes and the three-litre SDV6 255bhp diesel engine delivers massive torque (600Nm at 2,000rpm).
There was another reason I couldn’t wait to drive the Discovery 4. I’m a bit of a fan of off-road driving. In fact, if the weather isn’t favourable for sailing, then I’ll happily spend hours at the weekend at Core 4×4, my local off-roading site.
Here, I became most impressed with the Discovery 4’s handling. Some 4x4s struggle up the steepest slopes, but the Discovery tracked up and over anything, even with road tyres, in wet weather. The Discovery 4 is fitted with Land Rover’s patented Terrain Response System®, so you can adjust its settings to a particular surface. Just flick through the menu until you reach your required terrain, whether it’s sand, snow, gravel, rocks or mud. The ride is so capable and smooth that I’ve started taking the kids with me.
Everything I could have wished for has been included in the impressive design and features of the Discovery 4. It really can do anything I ask of it: towing a boat, transporting my family and keeping them safe, or providing me with lots of fun, both on and off road. I might just have found my perfect vehicle.