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Towns, Trains and Trails of Nevada 2004

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Land Rover Discovery II

By now you’ve no doubt already heard about the (new) 1999 LAND-ROVER Discovery, dubbed the SERIES II. No? Well then, you’ve come to the right place. In mid September Rob Whitaker & Michael Green were guests at the LAND-ROVER Lodge in Colorado, and while there they saw and drove the Series II for the first time.



Low-range, bottom-gear and Hill Decent engaged our Disco II makes its way down from 12,000 feet.

(see larger view)

From a glance the new "Series II" Discovery looks like those that arrived here in 1994… ah, but wait, there is a difference. A major difference. The "Series II" is a totally new car, only the basic engine configuration and some hardware are carried over from the original.

With great fanfare… a Calvary Charge, complete with uniformed riders and huge horses, introduced the guests of the Lodge to the new LAND-ROVER. Once all the commotion died down we were able to get a peak. Outside is all new, but the basic lines are still there. The windshield has been extended further up into the roof for better "traffic light viewing". The rear portion of the body has been extended 6" to increase both cargo area and accommodate the twin forward facing seats (optional). Bumper are all new as well. The interior has been further refined, and is quite impressive and comfortable. Underneath, where the heart of any good 4wd begins you’ll find an all new box ladder chassis with new axles (wider wheel track) and new suspension set-up. 


Rob plays on the Trails Course at the Land Rover Lodge… Moments before the clouds opened up, can you say MUD? (see larger view)
The Discovery still uses the tried & true "live axles" with coil springs, but with now single rate springs up front. The rear axle is located via "watts linkage", replacing the old "A-frame". One option available is "SLS" (Self Leveling Suspension), which is neat! Airsprings replace the coil springs in order to maintain optimum ride height under all load and towing conditions. Inside is a switch that gives the driver the ability to raise the rear for maximum ground clearance when off-road. It gets higher tech than that… a remote switch allows one to raise/lower the vehicle to easy trailer hook-ups. Wheel travel has been increased to 12.4 up front & 12.8" in rear. Then there is "ACE", Active Corner Enhancement (optional). This is so neat it’s unbelievable, and is unique to LAND--ROVER. It works like this… Four hydraulic rams replace conventional sway-bars. ACE has the ability to build up pressure to counter-act up to 1.0g lateral acceleration in 250 milliseconds. At 0.4g the system allows a progressive higher rate of body lean as lateral acceleration increases, thus giving the driver some feed back. That was great fun on the twisty Colorado highways to and from our off-road areas. ABS is again standard, and more sophisticated. For improved braking performance the LAND-ROVER introduced the EBD (Electronic Braking Distribution), which electronically moderates the brake bias between the front and rear axles. "The system detects wheel slip between the axles and adjusts the brake force distribution electronically under heavy braking. This maximizes braking effort on both axles by controlling front and rear line pressure depending on conditions. This system provided the driver with more control"… so says LRNA. We found the brakes far better than any Disco before it, in fact they were great. EBD is programmed to work in conjunction with the ABS. 4WETC, meaning Four-wheel Electronic Traction Control is something you have to see to believe…. It was fantastic! It will monitor wheel speeds and slippage up to 62 mph. In simple terms the system monitors prop shaft speed, beyond a given limit the ABS will apply the brakes to slow the offending axle, thus regaining lost traction. This LAND-ROVER is the most technically advanced vehicle in the compact suv segment, and brings with it a number of firsts to the American market, including HDC… Hill Decent Control. This gadget it cool! With the vehicle in Low-Range, and HDC engaged, via a dash switch, it makes hill descents virtually on its own. Rate of decent depends on what gear you’re in, and it’s all done via the ABS, at which point engine braking takes over. Even if you screw up and manage to select "N" in the main box, NO more run away car, instead the HDC will kick in (if you switched it on!) and grab the car and bring it to a creep… we tried it! This Series II has to be driven off-road to be fully appreciated. Under the hood is a totally revised 4.0 all alloy Rover V8, producing a claimed 188 bhp @4750 rpm and 250 ft-lbs of torque @2600 rpm. I agree it could use more power, what ever they give you isn’t enough… something in the realm of 250 bhp would be about right… But as long as you ring its neck on the road, it’ll more than take care of you off the road .The ZF 4-speed automatic is now electronically controlled, thus further refining the vehicle. We’ve already stated a number of the options, such as the SLS and ACE. 18" wheels now adorn the ACE/SLS equipped cars. They look great, on-road handling is improved, but I wouldn’t want them for off-road use. Tire choice will no doubt be very limited and tire/wheel damage will be wait around the next bend. Oh, it should be said, that with the new 4WETC don’t think you’re going to run out and fit ARB AirLockers, as of when I spoke with LR reps, they are no longer compatible with the electronic systems, so beware. Anyway, after we left the "Tech-Barn" we headed out into a large green and wet field where Tom Collins and his crew had set up a few places for us to play. We tried ‘em all… the Traction Ramps; where we were able to see the 4WETC is action firsthand. Next we made our way over the Trials are. Here we found an English type trials course. We tried to wait it out and let the ground dry up a bit, but to no avail. We had fun slogging around in the mud however. Now it was Barrel Racing, Fun stuff! After lunch we made our way up into the mountains, via a Defender 110 HCPU Tdi, for a bit of Sporting Clays, and with Holland-Holland shotguns that cost more than a 4.6HSE Range Rover! The next day we had the opportunity to really drive the new Series II, both on and off the road, some 200 miles to be exact. I wasn’t keen on the hours they got us up at, but we had a good time, and really enjoyed the new Discovery Series II. Would I buy one? You Bet! For more information call 1-800-FINE-4WD for a LAND-ROVER dealer near you. It is an Exceptional Vehicle.