Land Rover Discovery Goes Deep Water Fording

We’ve seen previously where a Ford Ranger or similar attempts to go through the deep waters of a swamp or mud bog only to wind up – you guessed it – flooded. It’s a technology that really has only been seen in the HMMWV – the ability to go through deep water without flooding the engine compartment.

So when we see this Land Rover Discovery go through five feet of water, the audience has expectations. Thank goodness that this Discovery has a bit more gravitas than that. Designed to be a rugged, versatile all terrain vehicle – it really proves its ability to do what it says it can do.

And for these deep swampy waters, the only thing that’s worse for wear? The interior. A price well worth it. When the Discovery first came out in 1989, it was meant to bring British car manufacturer Land Rover’s signature Range Rover style of SUV to a more competitive, lower income market.

That didn’t mean, however, that this British manufacturer was willing to shed an inch in performance or versatility. The first ’89 Land Rover Discovery came with a petrol four cylinder engine which quickly became desirable in a variety of places – Australia, Asia, and Africa. Because it was extremely fuel efficient, easy to repair, and very durable, it was a perfect choice for those going off the grid for extended periods of time.

As the Land Rover developed, they saw a need to bring the high performance specs of the Range Rover to this market. In this present incarnation – the Discovery 4 – Land Rover introduced the 5.0 L Jaguar AJ-V8 variant meant to bring platinum performance of the Jaguar to the Land Rover demographic. In production since 2010, it’s come standard with a tough-to-kill 6 speed manual or 8 speed automatic transmission perfect for crawling over rocky and inhospitable terrain. Before all that, though, the Discovery I was the baby child of Land Rover. Of note is the introduction of a 200Tdi TD I4 and a 300 Tdi TD I4 – both turbocharged diesel variants. If the name “Tdi” sounds familiar, it’s because this style of diesel wouldn’t really gain attention until Volkswagen began introducing it specifically in their line of diesel coupes and sedans in the early 2000s.

Turbocharged Direct Injection – And Why It’s the Best

To be specific, the TDI style of engine was developed by German parts manufacturer in 1986 for the Fiat. Fiats, as we all know, are expensive luxury cars manufactured originally in Italy for an extremely niche market. This TDI style, though, got adopted by British and German vehicle manufacturers as it was an extremely efficient way to get the most power out of a very small diesel engine.

When initially produced for Land Rover, the Discovery I had two Tdi four cylinder models made. Both have become so coveted that they often get transferred back into late 1990s Land Rover Defenders and even Range Rovers – that’s how durable they are. The biggest drawback came from the 300 Tdi TD I4 because of a rather weak head gasket. While incidences of actual gasket blows was rare, it formed the basis for Land Rover developing its Discovery II diesel I4 with a more balanced shaft use to reduce stress.

More importantly, by the time the Discovery II had come out, more and more vehicles were being made to consume petrol – not diesel. This was predominantly due to pressure from European and North American government agencies imposing stricter limits on emissions. The upside? Discovery II’s petrol engines packed more horsepower right out of the gate. The downside? Overall range of the Land Rover was decreased – making the Discovery I models all the more coveted for Non-Governmental Organizations operating in Australia, Asia, and Africa.

So, in terms of instantaneous performance, the 200 Tdi TD I4 (inline four cylinder) packed a respectable 111 hp and 195 lb ft of torque. That’s enough to pull a trailer through the mountains or wrench a light car out of a gully. And while the majority of its drivers would never be in that situation, the Discovery I found its second (or arguably third) life in the world of deep water fording.

Great Engine Compartment Leads to Third Life

There’s a couple basics to fording a vehicle. First off, the engine, electronics, and the power train all have to be locked and sealed. A battery short or a wire short will cause as quick a death as water getting into the carburetor. For the Land Rover Discovery I models, they realized that these SUVs would be rolling through some uncommon terrain. And especially for models equipped with Tdi, it was essential to make an engine compartment that was ready to accommodate a fording kit.

This is why Land Rover Discovery Is are a common site in the world of deep water fording and why, almost thirty years after the fact, they’re still in use today.

Continue To Video

That didn’t mean, however, that this British manufacturer was willing to shed an inch in performance or versatility. The first ’89 Land Rover Discovery came with a petrol fou