What does snow taste like dad? It’s a question that couldn’t be answered by serving them up a glass of shaved ice.
And as the mountain doesn’t come to the family, we needed to cart the tribe to the central plateau. Land Rover’s Discovery proved perfect for the task.
We covered 700km during our trip, at an average of 8.2L/100km, good for something so sizeable. Most of the journey was easy-going, highway-type cruising mind you. The 3.0-litre diesel hustles up plenty of low-end urge, the V6 hardly needing to venture much past 2000rpm. For the odd overtake, there’s decent power lurking in the upper rev band to get the pass done quickly. The eight-speeder slips its ratios through quickly and smoothly to ease consumption while in top it’s doing just 1200rpm at a cruise-monitored 106km/h.
Air springs are standard issue on the Discovery, and are set for a cushy ride quality. Their long travel soaks the bumps, particularly the nasty ones. There’s some waft and roll in the sharper bends but it keeps itself steady through the majority of curves to help gently ease passengers off to the land of nod, giving the driver some peace for a bit.
This is a truly comfortable main road mount, easy to cover distance in. The Disco is quiet, the engine barely registering a murmur while road noise is scant, so too the wind rustle. The front seat is more like an armchair and heated, as is the steering wheel rim, good for when northerners have to endure single-digit temperatures.
We like how the lane keeping function is opt in, so you can switch it on when you think you might need it, rather than cursing it all the time as it scolds you for getting too close to the lines. The active cruise is easily set with the buttons sighted on the wheel. However, the speed limiting function can be a better thing on New Zealand roads giving you more control of your pace on undulating, winding roads.
The Discovery has a wide cabin, so we strapped our three angels in across the back seat as we needed all the cargo space we could get for the excess of luggage and wintry snow gear. The boot is truly cavernous in five-seater mode, a quoted 1137L. The seven-seat Discovery has an ‘inner tailgate’, a sort of shelf thing inside the boot area, a remnant of the old model’s split-door design. From previous experiences, we found it’s often an annoyance, always in the way but it does have its merits. When you ram the boot full to the brim, it helps secure everything in place. And so you don’t have to be ready with cat-like reflexes to catch things as they tumble out when you open the tailgate. And it works as a seat/changing bench. It assisted in getting the kids suited up for the snow in the car park, and stripping them off afterwards, all cold and wet. They had a much cosier experience than the family next to us, doing the same thing on the back of their ute. With a vehicle that facilitates an ‘active lifestyle’, you’ll be needing the all-weather rubber mats this test vehicle came with. They capture all the muck traipsed in by kids, while the boot mat keeps that area tidy too, all the grit and bits easily removed.
We were aghast when this black-on-black Discovery turned up. It’s impossible to keep such a colour combination looking spectacular in winter. And then we discovered the white leather interior. The kids would have to be on their best behaviour; definitely no Twistie eating in the back on this road trip. These cream/beige/off white interiors might seem like a good idea when ordering via the online configurator, and they do brighten the cabin, but they simply aren’t practical in a vehicle such as this. The driver’s seat was already turning blue from denim dye, for instance. Apparently you can get your leather interior ceramic coated to help keep it looking good. It’s said to give it a layer of armour against stains, making it easier to maintain.
The Discovery’s cabin storage is better sorted than some in the Euro/luxury class, with enough crannies to stow the necessary snacks and drinks for the roadie.
So Defender or Discovery? The two are different, Discovery the more luxurious, family-orientated SUV, and bigger too. It’s more refined but also costs more, and so each will appeal to a different buyer, rather than cutting each others lunch.