Friday, 17 December 2010

Why Disco 3?

Unarguably the most critical aspect in driving around the world is what is going to be driving us around the world. We could debate and analyse which vehicle is the most appropriate for such a mission, but it’s a boring argument and, eventually, for us, it comes down to 3 simple issues:

1. What happens when the tarmac road ends?
2. What happens when night comes and nowhere around appears ‘exciting’ enough for a night sleep?
3. What if at some point we’ll have had enough of this whole driving journey?

Simplify these and we get the 3 most important features we want in our vehicle:

1. Durability: off road capabilities & maintenance
2. Sleep-in option: for those cold nights when pitching a tent wouldn’t be the greatest joy. 
3. Comfort: because suffering is for a different kind of person.

After weeks of research we’ve finally been left with 4 candidates: Toyota Hilux with a demountable, Toyota Land Cruiser, Land Rover Defender and Land Rover Discovery.  

Let’s eliminate.

Toyota Hilux with demountable: yes, we all saw Top Gear trying unsuccessfully to break a Hilux, however, with the special sleeping compartment it is expensive to acquire, expensive to ship and horribly expensive to maintain. Bulky, inefficient in space and heavy; disqualified. Next.

Toyota Land Cruiser: reliable, widely available hence maintainable and excellent to take off road. But for the price of one of those we could have circled the world with a spaceship. Furthermore, it just doesn’t have that extra poundage around the midsection to accommodate two sleepy people in comfort. Voted off.

Initially the Defender looks great: simple, tough, large and even ugly enough to scare away all of those desperate bandits out there. Promising? Well, try to drive in one of those growly noisy monsters with the radio on. It will be like bringing a violin player into an Arctic Monkeys concert – it’s just not going to work. The Defender simply doesn’t have the level of comfort we require for driving it around the world and enjoying it. Guess what; we want to enjoy it! Defender is also out.

We’re left with Disco 3. Ironically we found out about this option in the local dump, while someone was unloading a huge pile of recyclables from his disco 3. We’ve had a quick, curious, look inside and were immediately impressed; plenty of storage, high standards and looks like the sort of machine that will keep all its parts attached while crossing jungles or 
navigating deserts. And it’s even photogenic.

Disco 3: 2 berth in style

With a Disco 3 in mind we headed to the local dealer for a test drive. This is the part when any usual dealer would have a look at Jen, a well mannered lady, and immediately misjudge or ignore her dark side: when it comes to putting a car through its paces – she’s the best. When our misjudging dealer explained about the various capabilities of the disco 3 her eyes lit. I sensed a bumpy ride coming.

We took the car out to the countryside roads outside Bishop Stortford.  We accelerated, we tested the manoeuvrability around sharp corners and we verified that it is indeed an off road vehicle. Confirmed: it can even drive through bushes and fields. Our dealer will never misjudge a well mannered lady again.

With foldable back seats, a good reputation and brilliantly designed bottom warmers, our Disco 3 is the right car for us.

Or else, we’re going to find out.

Read more about our overland expedition