disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover

Photos / Supplied

Land Rover Discovery D250

3.5t

Towing

$129,900

Price

600Nm

Torque

7.8L

Fuel Economy

Pros

  • Plenty of power for overtaking 
  • Great sound system 
  • Fantastic off-road ability 

Cons

  • Big for city living 
  • Any colour other than white is an extra $1,000 
  • Haptic touch steering wheel buttons aren’t great 

It wasn’t long ago that DRIVEN had its last experience with the Land Rover Discovery. Over summer we took it for an off-road adventure out at Muriwai, where it demonstrated its ability to hold its own in the soft black sand.

As good as it was in the summer sun, I had a feeling that it would be better suited to a typical Kiwi ski trip in winter. I’m not going to jump to conclusions and say that the Discovery is the perfect vehicle for this purpose, but it turns out that it isn’t far off.

disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover

For our winter trip, DRIVEN spent time in New Zealand’s entry-level Discovery which is the R-Dynamic SE D250. It gets the same 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 engine as the rest of the local line-up, with 184kW/600Nm. Not that performance is a selling point in a diesel SUV, but it’ll hit 100km/h in eight seconds, which means that there’s more than enough grunt onboard for passing on the open road.

As standard, the Discovery is offered in a seven-seat configuration, so interior space is never an issue. To make the four-and-a-half-hour journey down to Ohakune from Auckland, we loaded the SUV up with four occupants plus luggage, and it was a comfortable fit. The initial plan was to squeeze another one in the middle of the rear row, but after four hours on the road, the consensus was that’d probably be a squeeze.

On the open road, the Discovery is fantastic with the air suspension providing an effortlessly smooth ride. With eight ratios on hand, the diesel sits well within its comfort zone, meaning that bettering the claimed consumption of 7.8l/100km isn’t hard to do.

Once we got down to Ohakune, we quickly realised that the snow season was kicking off as heavy as we had hoped for, so the road up to the Turoa ski field was even less of a challenge. The fact that there were front-wheel drive hatches at the top probably meant that the Discovery was a little overkill for the task at hand.

Nonetheless, we had our fun on the toboggans, and once the novelty of the snow wore off, we loaded up the Discovery again and headed down the hill.

disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover

Not quite satisfied with the lack of slippery stuff on the south side of Ruapehu, I convinced the crew on a trip around to Whakapapa to see if things were any more interesting. The colder evening air had brought with it a bit of sleet, and although it wasn’t a job for chains, I did take pleasure in selecting the ‘Snow’ driving mode for the first time.

According to Land Rover, the Grass/Gravel/Snow driving mode “assesses gradient, slip and yaw, temperature and pressure to engage intelligent traction on loose or slippery surfaces.” In other words, it makes it so you can keep driving as you normally would, whilst the SUV does a plethora of fancy things to keep you rubber side down.

As standard, the Discovery gets a central-locking differential, which is accessible via the ‘off-road’ menu on the infotainment screen. An active rear-locking differential is also available as a $2,100 option, which would likely come in handy if you’re more game than I was in the rough stuff.

disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover

Seat heaters are nothing new as a driver or passenger, but they’re an impressive addition beyond the front row. The optional second and third-row seat heaters came to be appreciated by the crew, but I wouldn’t say that they’re a cheap addition at $1,500 for both.

The new curved display is still a winner in my eyes, and wireless Apple Carplay is a joy to use. The standard Meridan Sound System also stunning, offering more than enough sound for the large cabin.

It’s hard to find a box that this Discovery doesn’t tick. At $129,900 for this entry-level D250, it’s not cheap, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a more luxurious SUV that’s as capable off-road. From hauling friends down to Ohakune to climbing mountain roads in heated seat comfort, the Disco was a joy to take away for a weekend.

Land Rover Discovery D250ENGINE: 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 POWER: 184kW/600Nm GEARBOX: 8-speed Automatic, AWD ECONOMY: 7.8l/100km (WLTP) 
PRICE: $129,900

disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover
disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover
disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover
disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover
disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover
disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover
disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover
disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover
disco to the snow: a classic kiwi road trip in a land rover

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