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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Welly 1:24 Land Rover Discovery 4 (LR4)



Ah, yes, Welly does it again!  Recently I just found another nice casting from this company via Rite-Aid drug stores.  Now normally I would pass on Land Rover's because while they are nice, i'm usually not a big fan of them.  This one, however, was different and was worth forking over a few bucks to get it.


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Discovery: The 'affordable' Range Rover

In 1989 Rover wanted to make an affordable version of the popular Range Rover luxury SUV for those who can't afford the high entry price or just need more room.  What they ended up with is a box that rises higher between the B- and D- pillars, yet still retain the same features, albet a few, as the Range Rover.  This was also the first and only Discovery generation with a four-cylinder as the base motor, but V6 turbodiesel and V8 motors were also offered.  The interior featured a dash that was well-laid out and awarded for it's style.  The third-row seats hinge to the side when not in use, but were mounted to the side (similar to the Defender) and access was by the rear side-swing gate.  Interesingly the US never got the Diesel's and the first year for the Defender was 1994.  Yet still it was very popular for it's off-road prowless, so much that it was the primary mode of transportation for the annual Camel Trophy events (even though other Land Rovers were used).


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In 1999 Series II arrived with more evolutionary changes that smooth out some of the rough areas of the first generation (primarily the cost-cutting attempts by Rover to make the Discovery the affordable alternative to the Range Rover).  In 2001, a mid-cycle change included new headlights shared with the new LR2 and Range Rover, along with a new 4.6 V8 from the brief partnership with BMW.  I must admit this mid-cycle change was a bit awkward on the Discovery than on the LR2 or Range Rover.  Still there was time for a bigger change.


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In 2004 the new Discovery 3 (called LR3 in the US) arrived with all-new sheetmetal that still retains the boxy look even though it sits lower and looks more modern than previous generations.  The body is now uni-body with a frame attached below for the drivetrain components to add better rigidity to the body.  The suspension is all-independent and now offers air springs to raise or lower the height.  The spare is now under the rear bumper, and the four-wheel drive system now offers new gadgets including hill descent control, traction and stability control, and a new Terrain Response system controlled by a knob on the center console that has five presets: sand, grass, mud, and rock crawl, and normal.  Each setting adjusts the powertrain, suspension, and traction controls accordingly.  The interior benefitted from a much refined and high-end look with the Range Rover, including a navigation system, DVD entertainment system for rear passengers, three sunroofs for each row (compared to the sunroof and two vertical pop-out panels of the previous generations), and a rear seat that is now mounted forward and can be accessed by the rear side doors.


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In 2010 Discovery 4 (LR4) was introduced with more styling enhancements:  The trim is now all body-colored (eliminating the front and rear bumper plastic trim that made it look like a Honda Element), headlights and taillights feature new LED lamps, digital gauges with central information screen, and a new set of engines from Jaguar.  The biggest is the 5.0L DOHC V8 from the Jaguar range, producing 385 hp. and 380 Ib-ft. torque through a six-speed automatic.  The new engine produces more power, yet is fuel-efficient and produces less CO2 emissions.  V6 turbo diesels were also offered (and would be nice on this casting.  More on that later).




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The Welly version: packed full of details!

To start off with this is one tall truck in 1:24 scale!  No other SUV has this much height from what I can remember!  Now compare it with the 2007 Chevy Tahoe, which was also there, from Welly 1:24 and this LR4 makes the Tahoe look bland.  Check out the chrome grille with the headlights that perfectly detail the LED lights, the hood and plate LAND ROVER letters, the side scoops in chrome with LAND ROVER in the middle, even the washer jets on the hood are detailed in black.  The sides show a smooth profile with flared fenders and nice multi-spoke wheels with green Land Rover badge and disc brakes that stay still when the wheels move.  The rear has my favorite element: the highly-detailed taillights with the LED's in the round lenses!  Also the lower bumper has red reflectors, more badging and Land Rover plate.  The roof is amazing with three sunroofs; the two in the rear are encased in blacked-out clear plastic that also connects the side rear windows as well.  All in all it's one cool truck packed with loads of features to eye-over, not to mention the gorgeous Nara Bronze Metallic paint!


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Inside is a black interior highlighted with more details and lots of sunlight thanks to the three sunroofs.  The steering wheel is large and features all the little details, the gauges are properly-done and easy to read.  The center stack with the buttons and screen are nicely done.  The only problem I have is with the air vents that look a bit upright than they should be, but then again maybe that's how they should be.  The seats look comfy and have detailed seat controls on the side and you can identify the seat track.  The console features the Terrain Response knob, e-brake switch on the left, and a shifter:  The original one is a dog-leg style, but this was the only missing part on my version.  So I grabbed a fabric holding needle (the one that looks like a cue ball shifter), pressed and glued it on, and added a little silver trim touch to give it the premium look.  I think it looks better than the original shifter! Elsewhere you can see the detailed second and third row seats, the door panels, and the details on the third-row cubby holes on the side panels.  Sadly there's no opening gate in the rear (which is typical for Welly even though I really thought the gate opens), though expecting a roomy interior with fold-down seats like a Maisto 1:24 Ford Explorer or Buick Rendezvous was asking a bit too much.



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The chassis is nicely-done with a deep spare tire, detailed suspension components (especially in the rear), the front control arms, skidplates, and the silver exhaust tips (which hides under the rear bumper in the right-side up view).  Note the tank below the driver's seat: that is the compressed air tank for the air suspension.  Now to the hood: as you open it you see a mostly plastic shrouds hiding the good stuff aside from the dual airbox-to-throttle setup and detailed fluid resovoir's.  The confusing thing about this casting is the lettering on the engine cover: V8.  Yet, the badge on the rear liftgate says TDV6 HSE, so this should be the TurboDiesel V6?  Well it's not it's the V8.  So with some nail polish I wiped that off to where it now says HSE (also during my Google search of the two engine pictures, I noticed no HSE model offers the TDV6).  A few minor miscues for an otherwise fantastic casting.



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The future of the Discovery will lie with two models and a return of the Discovery name in the US: a 7-passenger Discovery and a 5-passenger Discovery Sport (to replace the LR2) is planned in the near future.  While the Discovery is vastly different from the one introduced in 1989, that roof kink and multiple sunroofs, along with the off-road credibility, will still make it the recognizable as a Discovery.




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