The Road Ahead : December 2011
WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 52 THE ROAD AHEAD DEC 2011/JAN 2012 MOTORING AUSTRALIA'S BEST CARS all-terrain 4wd land rover discovery 4 sdv6 se LAND ROVER DISCOVERY 4 is victorious again in the All-Terrain 4WD category in 2011, taking the number of wins for Discovery models to a phenomenal seven in a row. This was despite a robust challenge from Jeep's impressive new Grand Cherokee Laredo 3.0-litre turbo-diesel, which outpointed Discovery 4 in the critical objective value for money stakes. But the champion that it is, the Land Rover came back all guns blazing in design and function and on and off road. Judges gave the 'Disco' 10 out of 10 for off-road engine gearing and traction, and near-perfect nines for safety, comfort, space, ergonomics, performance, ride, smoothness and quietness and off-road clearance and articulation. Indeed, so smooth and comfortable is the Discovery 4 that judges had, at times, to remind themselves that they were driving an all-terrain, not luxury, category 4WD. The SDV6 SE is 'motor- vated' by a 3.0-litre, sequential twin-turbo diesel engine pumping out a brutish 600 Nm of torque, some 36 percent the better of Discovery 3. Power, at 180 kW, is also up nearly 30 percent. But these significant boosts have not been to the detriment of fuel economy, which shows an improvement over the previous model and is competitive for class. MLP: $81,990. SCORES TOTAL: 1088. 2nd: Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo CRD, 1068. 3rd: Toyota Prado GXL, 1002. CRITERIA (OUT OF 10): VALUE FOR MONEY: Pricing 6H, Depreciation 6M, Running costs 3L, Fuel consumption 4H, Warranty 5M, Insurance 4L, Standard features 7H. DESIGN & FUNCTION: Safety 9C, Environment 5C, Comfort 9H, Space 9C, Practicality 8C, Ergonomics 9M, Build & finish 8H. ON THE ROAD: Performance 9H, Ride 9M, Handling 8M, Braking 8H, Smoothness & quietness 9L. OFF ROAD: Engine gearing & traction 10C, Clearance & articulation 9C. IN OUR LAST issue, I tempted fate by suggesting that a driving holiday would be easier with my children now that they were older. At the time of our journey, my children were aged three, five and six. There are benefits to driving with children at this age. For one, they can all sit in relative comfort in the back seat of a family sedan. They also believe you when you say a 14-hour drive to visit their grandparents is an exciting adventure. My husband and I planned our journey from the Gold Coast to Townsville with military precision. And not a small amount of blissful ignorance. Using a map of Queensland as our guide, we planned our stopovers to be within three to four hours driving time (approx 300-400 km) of each other. So that meant booking overnight accommodation at campsites in Hervey Bay, Yeppoon and Airlie Beach. As camping rookies, this seemed a cheap and easy option. It wasn't. As the heavens opened, we began our epic journey, arriving at Hervey Bay just in time to experience a thunderstorm that tested not only the strength of our brand new tent, but also our resolve. We lived to tell the story and the next day (to the amusement of the experienced grey nomads around us) re-packed the car in the pouring rain and moved on to our next, thankfully drier, destination. And so it went on for two more days. What were planned as three to four hour driving stretches invariably became six, and by the time we arrived in Townsville, I vowed never to set foot inside a tent, or car, ever again. I have never been more exhausted in my life. But seeing the smiles on my kids' faces, as they told their grandparents about the adventure, made me realise that what had been our nightmare was actually their dream holiday. It provided the perfect blend of experiencing different places, sleeping in a tent and seeing their parents on the brink of insanity. I'm not too proud to admit that on the way home I was a broken woman. By the time we reached Yeppoon, I couldn't upgrade to a cabin fast enough. Even my husband couldn't mask his relief. And the kids? When given the choice of a sleeping bag or triple deck bunk bed, their love of 'roughing it' came to abrupt end. So what's my conclusion to the travelling with kids' conundrum? I think my daughter said it all when we arrived back home. "Next time we go visit grandma and grandad, can we go in a plane? My bottom hurt from sitting in the car too long." Can't argue with that! HELEN WHEELS driving vs flying holidays part 2 LEVEL OF WEIGHTED IMPORTANCE FOR EACH SCORE: L=LOW,M=MEDIUM,H=HIGH,C=CRITICAL.
February March 2012