Getting to grips with Land Rover's new 'cycling pack'
For two-wheel enthusiasts the new Cycling Pack for the recently-introduced Discovery comprises a choice of either a roof-mounted two-bicycle carrier or a towbar-mounted two-bike rack.
To protect the interior from the mud and dirt picked up on trails, the package includes a rubber mat set for the first and second seating rows and a waterproof liner tray for the boot. A first aid kit is also part of the deal, as is a set of front and rear mudflaps and a choice of black or silver wheel centre caps.
The Cycling Pack bundle is priced at R22 500 which is a price saving over the maximum R28 791 it would cost to buy all these Gear items individually. The package is available to existing fifth-generation Discovery owners, or can be built into the finance agreements of a new one.
All Gear accessories are factory approved and covered by the standard vehicle warranty.
I was part of a group of journalists hosted by Land Rover last weekend to try out the Cycling Pack in a mountain bike adventure near Howick in KwaZulu-Natal.
Starting in Joburg, we headed south on a five-hour trip in a Discovery Si6 carrying four bikes: two on the roof and another two on a towbar rack behind the vehicle.
I preferred the towbar carrier as having bikes on the roof caused loud whistling and a significant amount of fuel-wasting drag, which contributed to the 3-litre supercharged petrol Discovery quaffing more than 13 litres per 100km on the open-road trip. It’s also easy to forget that you have bikes on the roof when you drive into low-slung carports or garage entrances, which is exactly what happened when one of our party knocked a bicycle clean off its carrier.
There are none of these issues with the towbar-mounted rack, and at knee height it’s also a lot easier to load bikes onto - lifting a weighty mountain bike above your head to get it onto the roof isn’t necessarily for sissies.
With the towbar rack there’s no problem with boot access as the carrier conveniently tilts out of the way by means of a foot-operated lever, allowing the tailgate to be opened even while the bikes are mounted.
The wisdom of including rubber floor mats in the Cycling Pack also came to the fore when our rainy mountain bike sojourn produced a very sorry-looking lot of muddy riders.
The new Discovery made a good adventure companion for a weekend of cycling, a hobby that many thousands of South Africans are into. The roomy cabin comfortably accommodated four adults in the first two rows - an additional row of electrically-folding seats is available as an option - and our luggage and cycling gear easily fitted into the 1 231 litre boot (there’s up to 2500 litres on offer with the second row folded down).
After the cold and rainy ride we also appreciated the heated seats, which are available for all three seating rows.
Since its launch in 1989 the Land Rover Discovery has blended hardcore offroad ability with luxury and comfort. Version five is even more comfort-oriented, but without losing any of its dirt-duelling credentials.
A generous 283mm ground clearance and 900mm maximum wading depth gives the all-wheel drive Discovery the ability to schlep mountain bikers to the start of rugged and remote trails.
All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) can be programmed to automatically maintain a set crawl speed, allowing the driver to concentrate on simply steering the vehicle over obstacles, without worrying about operating the throttle or brake pedal. Using a rotary dial, the multi-mode Terrain Response 2 system also offers a range of settings that change the throttle and gearshift characteristics to suit varying driving conditions.
There are four equipment grades and except for the entry-level Discovery S which comes with coil suspension and high range only, all other versions have height-adjustable air suspension and high and low range.
The latest Discovery weighs around 480kg less than its predecessor due to its monocoque body now being mostly constructed of aluminium instead of steel, giving it a notably nimbler feel and more spring in its step.