Friday June 13, the first day of the petrol tanker drivers’ strike. Saner types would probably be nestling deeper under the duvet rather than contemplating a 500-mile journey by Land Rover. Fortunately, I’m not even slightly superstitious (which is why this sentence doesn’t start with ‘luckily’).
The drive over to the start of the LRO Real World test route reveals just how good this Disco automatic really is. The ride is extremely well-controlled and relaxing – so much so, that I have to get out and to see if it’s fitted with ACE (Active Cornering Enhancement), which took its bow with the launch of the Discovery 2. I’m surprised to find it isn’t there (it wasn't standard on all models).
The Disco has covered only 60,000 miles in its seven-year, fully serviced life and it still feels fresh. The only thing I’m still not totally convinced by is the four-speed auto box, which doesn’t change up when you want it to. Even on a light throttle pressure, the engine sounds like it’s very busy (2200rpm) at 30mph through town.
However, once it reaches 40mph, the box changes up seamlessly – and both the engine and I relax.
Topping up the enormous fuel tank is a scary experience. Although it’s already more than a quarter full, it still manages to swallow 67.48 litres at an eye-watering 132.9 pence per litre: that’s £89.68 for three-quarters of a tankful. Phew.
Still, at least the sun is shining on us, even if oil producers aren’t. The A1 isn’t too busy yet and we make good progress along it. The Disco is really starting to grow on me now, especially when gobbling up the miles with cruise control engaged.
Leaving the A1 at Knaresborough,
I press the button by the shift lever to select sport mode: the engine note becomes a little more gruff and gearchanges feel a little more assertive. Until now, the changes have been so smooth that I’m not sure which ratio the auto box is in;
I just know it feels right.
Soon, the roads become narrower and twistier. The auto responds by shifting up and down constantly; and the suspension, ride and handling really begin to shine. This is a very, very nice vehicle to drive, with probably the quietest Land Rover transmission I’ve ever heard – or, to be more accurate, not heard.
Reaching the first greenlane, I drop the Discovery into low range – just to make sure it works more than through necessity – and trundle along the rocky track. I also raise the rear end’s air suspension to keep the low-slung tow hitch out of reach of the ground.
The 235/70 R16 road tyres cope easily with the high-traction, grippy surface of the lane. Even the loose shale of the first ‘interesting’ section leaves the vehicle unperturbed.
Traction control and HDC (Hill Descent Control) are at my beck and call today, and they come into play
a couple of times to keep the Discovery well in control.
The only time it’s even remotely challenged is on the rock steps up the final clamber, when the tow hitch makes light contact with finest
Yorkshire stone. As usual, I’m crawling along and it’s not a problem.
The short road section to the second lane gives the Disco 2 another opportunity to show me how good it is. It’s the perfect combination of high driving position, torquey engine and flexible automatic transmission that does the trick. All I have to do is concentrate on the road that winds its way through the epic Dales scenery.
The Wensleydale Creamery is an important milestone on the LRO Real World Test route, not least because of its delicious food. After my bacon and caramelised mushroom panini, its reputation is totally intact.
Suitably fortified, I press on with the home run back through a surprisingly quiet Bradford. There’s still plenty of Friday-night traffic but it’s free-flowing and doesn’t cause us any hassle. Once on the M62 and heading east, the weather, which has been fantastic all day, finally lets go: we’re in the middle of a cloudburst. The wipers do a decent job of clearing the incessant, irritating road spray; and the climate control stops the interior steaming up.
Back on the A1, traffic is still busy but the panoramic view out of the windows stops any surprise ‘attacks’ from undercutters and overtakers. The Discovery 2 is a very relaxing, undemanding car to drive: I could certainly live with this one.
Even though I’ve been sitting behind the wheel since 6am, I don’t feel particularly tired. The seats provide great support and the auto box does away with the tiresome task of pumping the clutch all day.
At last, we’re back at the fuel pump. I've done 395 miles in 12.5 hours, the Disco has performed brilliantly and I’m won over. But I’m jolted out of my daydream when I start to fill up.
When I brimmed it this morning at the same filling station, the diesel cost 132.9p per litre… now, the pump’s LED display reads 134.9p.
I ask the guy behind the counter. ‘They called us at midday and told us to put the price up,’ he says. I’m underwhelmed by their putting diesel up by 2p a litre on the first day of the tanker drivers’ strike. Coincidence?
Either way, given the grim price of diesel, the D2’s return of 25.85mpg is especially disappointing.
What's the point?
LRO’s Real World Test gives an independent, ‘real world’ fuel economy figure based on a varied and enjoyable 380-mile route, rather than sitting on a dyno.
It’s a big drive to do in one day, so we get up early and start by brimming the fuel tank at a garage on the A1 in Lincolnshire.
By doing the same at the end, it’s easy to get a precise ‘combined mpg’ figure – meaning a blend of motorways, fast A-roads, country roads, a couple of long greenlanes and a rush-hour city crawl. And, we find out more along the way!
Our test route
Bloody Oaks services, Stamford > A1 north Knaresborough > Arncliffe > Kettlewell > Middleham > Bainbridge > Stalling Busk (byway) > Hubberholme > Cam High Road (byway) > Wensleydale Creamery, Hawes > Settle > Silsden > Bradford > M62 east > Ferrybridge > A1 south > Bloody Oaks services, Stamford