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Land Rover Discovery 1998 / 1999


1998, September: Land Rover Discovery, code-name Tempest got its press-launch. As had been gradually leaked, the new Discovery is a little longer and wider than the original. The Discovery ES features Range Rover-like self-levelling air-bag suspension at the rear (coils on the base model), traction control said to remove the need to use diff'-locks, and hill descent control. The optional third row of seats now faces forwards thanks to the slight stretch of the rear bodywork. Engine alternatives are the 4.0 litre V8 petrol 132 (180hp) or a new 2.5 litre five cylinder turbo-charged and intercooled diesel 101 (135hp). If they can build the new Discovery to BMW-like quality it should do well.

Australians got a look during the 1999 Motor Show. Externally, it is hard to pick from the old car. Most noticeable is the position of the new rear light cluster - see below right. Underneath, the front axle has open swivels with the c.v. joints in rubber boots.

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Appearance of the new Land Rover Discovery is little different from the old model, although only the rear door is carried over unchanged. The tail-light clusters half-way up the rear pillars, and a slightly heavier look to the rear are the biggest give-aways. Not so noticeable is a switch from aluminium to zinc-coated steel for some body panels such as door skins; it is said to allow closer tolerances in manufacturer. Is this the start of the end of the Birmabright brotherhood?

Dimensions of the new Discovery are a touch bigger (nearly) all round, the most significant increase being 106mm (4") added to the length, just enough to get the optional third row of seats facing forward and fitted with lap-sash seat belts - a major consideration for the larger-family market. The wheel-base remains at the classic 100" or 2540mm, so it is into the rear overhang that the extra length goes. One wonders why the wheel-base wasn't stretched a touch. Width is up by 92mm (3.5") to 1885mm and wheel-track is now 1540mm/1560mm (was 1486mm) to match, courtesy of Range Rover series-II style axles which have open swivel housings at the front. The new Discovery is 1935mm tall with roof rails, 33mm less than the old car.

The mechanical changes are most significant, including an all new diesel engine and electronic wizardry for traction and suspension.

Diesel power comes from the new five-cylinder Td5 engine, code-named Storm. This is a direct injection diesel, turbo-charged and intercooled. It delivers 101 at 4200r and 300 at 1950r against 83 at 4000r and 265 at 1800r for the previous 2.5 litre four-cylinder 300 Tdi. Those 300 are only 20 less than the 4-litre V8 petrol engine produces and are delivered a good deal lower in the rev-range! Flexibility counts for a lot in the rough and a ratio of 2:1 or more between the revs for maximum power and maximum torque is good. 270 of torque are available at 1450r. The new engine features electronic unit injectors for each cylinder, driven off their own lobes on the overhead cam-shaft; Land Rover quote a momentary injection pressure of 22,000psi! Considerable trouble is taken to filter, cool and de-bubble the recirculating diesel and a water-detector is fitted. With all this comes an electronic Engine Control Model (ECM) and an electronic drive by wire throttle. The ECM can "talk to" the automatic transmission (if fitted), the ABS brakes, the ETC traction control and HDC hill decent control, even to the air conditioning. The opportunity has also been taken to employ a "two stage throttle response": basically the throttle is more sensitive in hi-range and less sensitive in low-range when you might be bouncing around in the rough. All these electronics do allow more precise fuel metering, and bring greater power and efficiency, but they will have traditionalists wondering about water-proofing, reliability and fixability in the bush.

Petrol power comes from the latest revision of the well-loved V8, code named Thor, at a nominal 4 litres. Power is up 5 to 132 at 4750r and torque up 16 to 320 at 2600r. The Bosch Motronic 5.2.1 engine management system is fitted. The bottom-end of the block is stiffened by cross-bolted main bearings and a structural cast-alloy sump, as per Range Rover II.

The R380 manual gearbox has been strengthened (wonder if the improvements can be retro fitted?) and the LT230Q transfer case has been quietened (hence the Q) and now has a cable mechanism to select hi/lo-range. The automatic gearbox has a torque converter lock-up ability in all four gears. This should be particularly useful in low-range to provide engine braking on steep descents, an area where most automatic 4WDs are severely lacking.

Suspension is by live axles front and rear. The front axle is located by radius arms and a Panhard rod, and is fitted with coil springs. The rear axle is located by radius arms and a Watts linkage; the A-frame has gone. The base model gets rear coil springs, but the ES model has rear air-springs which provide load-levelling, hence there is no need for the A-frame anymore. The air-springs can be raised by 40mm in offroad mode to give a better departure angle.

ACE stands for Active Cornering Enhancement and consists of hydraulic pistons that control body roll via a rigid anti-roll bar. ACE can resist body-roll under electronic control, in an attempt to have the best of both worlds: flat, firm cornering at on-road speeds, and compliant long-travel springing for good axle articulation off-road. ACE is standard on the ES and a 4K option on the base model.

ETC or Electronic Traction Control uses the ABS brake circuitry to brake a spinning wheel and transfer torque to wheels that still have grip, thus giving the effect of a limited slip differential. The Hill Decent Control (HDC), as introduced on the Land Rover Freelander, will "walk" the car down a steep hill at 7km/h to 14km/h.

Further safety features include twin front SRS airbags, and pyrotechnic front seat belt pretensioners (and load limiters). All five (or seven) occupants have three-point, lap-sash seat belts.

Security is improved: central locking can be controlled remotely or from the driver's door. Superlocking disables the interior door handles and sill buttons.

- 4wd.sofcom.com/LandRover/Landy.html

Land Rover Discovery II 1999 manufacturer's specifications

  • station wagon, 5 seats (+2 option), 4 doors, ABS, twin SRS airbags
  • loa: 4630mm, width: 1885mm, height: 1935mm (with roof rails) track: 1540mm/1560mm grnd clearance: xxx -->
  • approach: 31°, departure: 21° (25° with rear air susp') ramp break over: xxx -->
  • turning radius: 5.95m
  • weight: 2065kg - 2225kg (unladen), GVM: 2750kg - 2880kg, towing: 750kg (unbraked), 3500kg (braked)
  • petrol:
    • 4L nominal, petrol, V8, mpfi, 2-valves/cyl, ohv
    • bore: xxx, stroke: xxx, c.r.: xxx -->
  • diesel:
    • Td5, 2.5L, diesel, 5-cyls, direct injection, turbo-charged, intercooled, 2-valves/cyl, sohc
    • bore: xxx, stroke: xxx, c.r.: xxx -->
  • transmission: R380 5-speed manual/ ZF ZF4HP22EH 4-speed auto'; LT230Q transfer case, full-time 4WD
  • suspension: front live-axle & coils/ rear live-axle Watts-link & coils (base) or air (ES),
    brakes: disc/disc, ABS, ETC, transmission hand-brake
  • tyres: std 235 on 16x7J alloy wheels, option 255 on 16x8J alloy wheels, option 255 on 18x8J alloy wheels,
    fuel-tank: 95L
  • standard: air conditioning, 4-spkr radio/ cassette, electric windows and mirrors
  • prices 44,900 to 65,729 ( 2/1999):
    • base: V8 man' 44,900, diesel +1,500, auto' +2,600, ACE +4,000, +2 seats +3,000, 18" wheels +2,600
    • ES: V8 auto' 64,000, diesel +1,729, 18" wheels +2,998, (auto', ACE, +2 seats standard)
  • competition: GM Holden Jackaroo, Jeep Cherokee, Mitsubishi Pajero, Toyota Prado

Go to the 1999, Discovery and Land Rover (main) pages

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