Monday, September 17, 2012

Used Car Review - Land Rover Discovery (1996-1999)

Everyone wants a European car, right? But buying a new one would cost you a fortune and Myk Belmonte suggests to check out the used car market since there are tons of them. Word of advise: be careful on scouting for one but the rewards are worth it.

1996-1999 Land Rover Discovery

It was in the 90s that the money was on Sports Utility Vehicles due to their high profit margins. This meant every car maker have to sell an SUV (developed on their own or use-their-own-name-but-other's-body) so they can see their sales soar high. 4x4 specialist Land Rover was not contented with their luxurious Range Rover and their utilitarian Defender and with that in mind, the Discovery was developed and sold to the mass market with its lower price.

Code-named as "Project Jay" under development stages, this sport ute was made available in 1989 in the United Kingdom. This SUV was priced lower than the Range Rover but had the chassis and drive train of the upscale brethren. At first, three doors are the only option with a five door configuration followed. Various engine choices include a 2.0 liter four cylinder (the only Discovery generation to have this), a diesel power plant, and three V8 motivators. In fact, this was utilized as the ride of Prince Philip during his Park Ranger stint in the Windsor Great Park.

A Filipino Rovernut had to wait until 1996 for the official launch of the Discovery. It was brought in to the country by Asian Carmakers Corporation (who used to distribute and assemble Kia, BMW, Subaru, Daihatsu, and Mazda passenger vehicles back then) with a stratospheric price of P4.4M. Fully loaded automatic units are very common, while Discoveries with stick shifts are rare.

Value and Costs
You may rejoice that the British experience can be obtained for less a million bucks. A locally purchased unit could set you between P650,000-P750,000, which is a bargain. However, spotting this SUV in the weekly classified ads is uncommon. If you find a unit, make sure it seen road usage than being driven in rough terrain. There are units that are from Japan which should be avoided without any second thought, since owning a problematic luxury vehicle can spoil the experience.

The common stereotype which involves European vehicles that are hard to maintain. But Beeboy Bargas of Top Gear Philippines said in an article of his that "the cost to maintain a Discovery is not prohibitive". Land Rover specialist shops had been sprouting like mushrooms and parts sourcing are not difficult. If the desired part is not available, there is the online market which your desired part would be delivered in just less than a week. Before committing to fix it by yourself, make sure to ask fellow Rover enthusiasts for advice.

Exterior and Interior
With the vehicle made in aluminum from the start, there is a little chance spotting rusted Discoveries. This is a good thing especially that this Land Rover can withstand the harsh weather conditions that the Philippines has to offer.

Tagging four of your buddies with average Asian height and built is easy, since they can fit comfortably inside but not that big to be overwhelmed by it. Those who love to peek out of the windows regularly and who are claustrophobic would be thankful for the abundance of headroom and the standard Alpine Windows for that pleasurable viewing experience. Cargo space is not as big as what you expect, but decently enough for long trips.

Asian Carmakers was right when they brought in a diesel mover for this Rover. Among all engines available, it was a 2,495cc with 112hp at 4,250rpm and 265Nm at 1,800rpm. Economy and performance wise, this can rival current model SUVs due to the light weight to chug around and the abundance of low end torque. It nay not be the fastest, but for those craving for more, there is the V8 petrol trim, but you have to learn to live with the consumption it offers.

Driving Impressions
True 4x4 vehicles wont fear any road - paved, unpaved, or beaten. At any surface (drivable of course) and speed, it provides unparalleled grip. There is no need to fear for bounces and rollovers due to the comfort biased coil springs (on rigid-axle suspension). The transfer-case stick is a good companion for any good or bad road conditions. But, the accelerator is long reach (and it necessitates the use of thick soled shoes for your, well, feet) and the clutch for stick shift variants is hard to operate especially if you graduated from a sedan.

Who said that if its a off-road machine, it must have a bouncy ride. The Land Rover Discovery debunks this notion by offering a comfort tuned suspension and retaining the Land Rover heritage. With lower prices, it is a steal if you are seeking an all around companion - rain or shine - in a luxurious package. May I ask you, have you encountered a Land Rover whose price falls below a million bucks? This is the answer, and this might be your ticket to the 'Ultimate Driving Experience' ownership.

The Good:
  • Luxury for less cash
  • More headroom
  • Diesel engine equals good fuel economy
The Bad:
  • Interior can wore out due to climate
  • Be cautious with imported units
  • Very rare in the market
The Pick: If possible, go with a local unit

Engine: 2,495cc 11L I4 diesel
Power: 112hp @ 4,250rpm
Torque: 265Nm @ 1,800rpm
Fuel Consumption: 7-9km/L (city), 11-12km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front and rear rigid axles on coil springs with ride leveler

Price (New): P4,400,000
Price (Now): P650,000-P750,000 (local units)
Rivals: None during the time
On Sale: 1996-1999

Land Rover Bonifacio Global City - 856-2277
Land Rover Makati - 881-7060

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