The previous model Discovery won Britain’s Tow Car of the Year competition year in, year out, for decades. If the Brits stay biased towards English vehicles, the All-New Discovery (the fifth generation, even though Land Rover have not used the numbering in the naming) will probably continue to be their top choice for some time yet.
In my opinion, the Discovery has always been worthy of all the awards it has won, including those for being a great towing vehicle.
It’s easy to see why: the factory-recommended towing capacity is 3 500 kg, and the turbo-diesel engine pushes out a massive 600 Nm of torque; and, in the latest model, there is the ability to reverse a caravan without the driver having to touch the steering wheel, thanks to advanced towing assist function! This last ability alone makes it a unique towing vehicle, and don’t forget that it has the increasingly-popular trailer stability control should the trailer ever get unmanageable on the open road.
Send all this pulling power via a silky-smooth automatic transmission, and you have a vehicle which provides the equivalent of a ship’s tug-towing capacity.
Then there are the creature comforts – a high seating position, good vision, and enough instrumentation to keep an Airbus Captain occupied.
As a Discovery admirer, I have mixed feelings about the new model’s styling; it certainly looks more sporty and graceful, but the older model had a lovable box shape that promised cavernous interior space, particularly in the rear load bay. But evolution and modern styling dictate sleekness in the motor industry, so cars have become more similar and look more alike.
Back to reality. The new Discovery is a magnificent vehicle; it’s sooo smooth, and has too many features to mention here. And, yes, it’s by no means cheap, with a bottom-of-the-range price of just over R980 000. And that excludes extras, not even the Electronically Deployable Towbar (R16 500). If you take the top of the range First Edition with all the available extras, you are looking at just below R1,5 million!
The All-New Discovery comes with new system called All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC), which we tested on another occasion (at the launch) by towing a trailer loaded with 480kg (total weight including trailer around 800kg) up a 20° incline with axle-twisters deep enough to lift a wheel.
The ATPC automatically locks and unlocks the centre and rear diffs to keep the wheels which have traction turning incrementally. Even when the vehicle and trailer were halted halfway up the hill, the Disco managed to get going again, using half and quarter turns of the wheels to slowly make progress in first gear low range.
The new model is in permanent 4×4 and offers a variety of off-road driver tweaks, and is no doubt very capable – except while shod with 275/45 R21 in Conti city-slicker town tyres that are not suited to rock crawling, high kerbs or bad potholes. To deal with these, one would have to get an optional set of wheels with the appropriate tyres.
A SUITABLE CARAVAN
While visiting Motorhome-World’s factory at Atlantis in the Cape, we couldn’t help but admire the imported Dethleffs Camper caravan standing in their parking lot, and it just so happened that we were looking for a caravan to be towed by the all-new Discovery.
With a GVM of 1 680kg, The Dethleffs is light for a caravan of its size. Even fully packed and balanced on a single axle, the nose weight is light enough to be picked up by a middle-aged man.
As it’s a full import, it’s also equipped with all the modern towing necessities such as anti-sway coupling and Al-Ko’s ATC sway control, which we featured some issues back.
Add a well-balanced caravan that s light on the nose, the friction coupling, and ATC, and you have one impeccable towing caravan with no need for a second axle.
This fully-imported caravan costs R535 000, including VAT, but excluding the ATC. We do not have a locally manufactured caravan of this standard of workmanship or balance for towing. I would add the ATC, because I believe this should be standard on all caravans. It is available from Motorhome-World (087 985 0630).
We hitched up the Dethleffs to the Discovery, and the self-levelling suspension on the car quickly returned it to its normal stance. We did, however, adjust the suspension to a firmer ride to cater for the fact that we were towing, before heading out for Pieter-Dirk Uys’ country town of Darling.
Although Land Rover gave this Discovery a maximum braked trailer towing capacity of 3 500kg, if you take into account the GVM of 3 240 kg, then this is what it can legally tow in SA unless vacuum brakes are added to the caravan.
Land Rover Discovery HSE TD6
Gearbox: 8-speed auto
Max. towing mass unbraked: 750kg
Max. towing mass braked: 3 500kg
Ground clearance: 283mm
0 – 60 km/h (sec): 5.44
0 – 100 km/h (sec): 16.44
80 – 100 km/h (sec): 4.56
Discovery S TD6: R980 000
Discovery S Si6: R1 018 500
Discovery SE TD6: R1 109 250
Discovery SE Si6: R1 126 750
Discovery HSE TD6: R1 223 000
Discovery HSE Si6: R1 240 500
Discovery HSE Luxury TD6: R1 314 000
Discovery HSE Luxury Si6: R1 331 500
Discovery First Edition TD6: R1 440 000
Discovery First Edition Si6: R1 457 500
One of my first observations while towing was the 600 Nm of torque under the Discovery’s bonnet. Awesome, especially when considering that this is only a 2 993 cm3 engine! Couple this power to an 8-speed automatic transmission and you can accelerate from zero to 60km/h in 5.44 seconds, and up to 100km/h in 16.44 seconds.
For overtaking slower traffic, this combination will accelerate from 80 to 100 km/h in 4.56 seconds.
Fuel consumption varies; the onboard computer showed figures of 14.6 l/100km on flat road, to 22.4-litres on the hills at 120 km/h. So, with an 85-litre fuel tank capacity, you should get good distance without needing a refill.
The Discovery HSE model featured here is as good as ever. As a tow car, there are just so many features to enjoy – I just wish I were a rich man!