A key ingredient to family time (click here to read our earlier camping story) is adventure. Your kids likely won’t remember the time they played some nondescript game on their tablet, but they will definitely remember riding a horse, taking a scenic hike or joining dad on a daring 4x4 adventure.
And it’s the latter on which we’ll focus today. Let’s start off by saying that the new Land Rover Discovery HSE Luxury TD6 is an immensely capable off-road vehicle.
Settling in at Koningskop campsite close to Citrusdal, it was time to plan the next morning’s activities. My eye caught the 4x4 trail signage on entry and I proposed trying it as the steep mountainside would offer spectacular vistas of the surroundings. I secured a permit from the friendly lady at reception, who assured me that as long as I stayed off the grade 5 “hardegat” loop I would be fine as apparently you need a recovery vehicle with a winch to complete the obstacles.
Early the next morning, after a decent breakfast, the family was ready for the adventure. For fun, the third row was raised by toggling the electric switches in the boot. It is particularly useful feature in situations where the extended family and friends want to join in the fun, and allows the Disco to offer proper seven-seat comfort with a spacious last row. In fact, there was no chance of getting the kids out from there as they claimed it as their new domain. I pointed the Discovery to the start of the 4x4 trail and off we went.
The test unit came fitted with the Capability Plus pack (R26 800 option), which includes an active rear locking differential along with the Terrain Response System. Selecting low-range and the rock-crawl setting, the air suspension moved to its highest setting, allowing a full 283 mm of ground clearance, but with still 500 mm of wheel articulation per corner. I decided not to lower the tyres pressures to avoid risking a scratch on the beautiful, split-spoke 21-inch wheels. The start of the trail appeared innocent enough and we idled up the gentle slope.
Around the corner though, the challenge started. We were greeted by a steep section filled with big boulders and erosion ditches. Surely the lady at reception had not attempted this trail lately? I had to convince my family that the vehicle was built for this before I was allowed to proceed. It helped that I drove the Discovery on a pre-launch drive in Scotland on a very demanding, muddy off-road trail. But this is Africa with dust and 30 degree Celsius temperatures.
The camera views, especially forward, were helpful in showing the optimum path as the Dicso went about crawling up the incline if it were a daily routine. Driver skill is needed only in terms of line selection and knowing how much power to feed in while the traction control systems do the rest – impressive for sure. The torquey nature of the engine meant that only rarely was more than a quarter of accelerator pedal travel needed during the climb, while the slick eight-speed transmission (in low-range mode) took care of the rest.
The cameras are also used for the clever Wade Sensing system (R4 300 option) showing the rising water level as a graphical display on the instrument cluster and warning the driver when the extreme 900 mm wading limit is approached. There was no chance for that in the drought-stricken Western Cape, though.
There was little let-up in the severity of the trail and the nervous laughter from the family had me worried that we were indeed on the “hardegat” loop! Luckily, this was not the case as a sign post later confirmed, but if you ever take on the trail, be sure not underestimate the standard path. Suddenly, my four-year-old started singing the South African national anthem to great enjoyment of the Discovery’s other occupants. Thanks to the remarkable way the Discovery was conquering the mountain, Britain’s “God save the Queen” version seemed more apt. This was family time at its best.
The views from the top made the whole trip worthwhile and nature displayed its splendour in no uncertain terms. What this exercise confirmed was that the new Discovery had lost none of the previous version’s off-road capability, even though the ladder frame had made way for an aluminium unibody construction method shared with the Range Rover. In my opinion, the vehicle even gained an off-road edge, while comfort levels actually improved.
After the compulsory photo session at the look-out point, it was time to return to base camp. The steep inclines now became slippery slopes and the hill-descent control worked a treat in keeping the vehicle’s speed under control while the driver focused on the best lines. Few future owners of the new Discovery may risk their pricey steeds on such a demanding off-road trail, but this would be doing the Land Rover an injustice. Lunch was well deserved when we reached the caravan, without adding even a tiny scratch to the Discovery.
Packing up and hooking the Jurgens Exclusive trailer were exciting prospects as our next stop was The Baths, only 40 km away. What better way to remove the dust and enjoy extra family time than lowering tired bodies into the magical warm water of the natural spring?
Model: Land Rover Discovery HSE Td6
Price: R1 323 918
Engine: 3,0-litre, V6 four, turbodiesel
Power: 190 kW at 3 750 r/min
Torque: 600 N.m 1 750–2 250 r/min
Trans: 8-spd auto
0-100 km/h: 8,1 secs
Top Speed: 209 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 7,2 L/100 km
CO2: 189 g/km