Don’t duck the Disco
Great value and unrivalled off-road ability propel the Land Rover up the medium luxury SUV charts
LAND Rover’s Discovery Sport has rocketed up the sales charts this year, leaving Audi’s A5, BMW’s X3/X4, Porsche’s Macan and the Lexus NX in its wake. It sits in second place in the mid-size luxury SUV class, behind the Mercedes GLC.
The maker recently fitted its new 2.0-litre “Ingenium” fourcylinder turbo diesel/ninespeed automatic drivetrain as part of its first update.
We’re in the base model SE Td4 150 (as in horsepower, or 110kW), which compared with its German rivals looks a bargain at $56,355.
This is a Tardis, with a roomy, versatile, five or seven-seat layout inside a compact body.
Two individual rear seats fold flush into the load floor.
They’re a $2050 option, which also includes a 60-40 split middle bench with a simple fold and slide function that provides easy access to the back, plus buttons in the cargo bay to remotely release each backrest section for an extended floor of 1.75 metres.
The back stalls are more for occasional than daily use and fine for young kids but full-size humans are forced to squat in an uncomfortably tight space.
No such problems in the middle row, which has plenty of legroom and is loaded with kidfriendly stuff, including two USB ports (the Disco has five in total), a 12V outlet (three in total), centre pillar vents, ample storage and low window sills, so young children won’t feel claustrophobic.
Up front, in a firm, supportive, leather-wrapped seat, you face a typical bling-free Land Rover dash, with chunky controls and a small touchscreen. The menu structure can be as baffling as some of the ambiguously labelled buttons that surround it.
Still, voice control, which has you chatting to a nice English lady, gets it right almost every time (for phone and audio; it doesn’t control navigation), there’s yet more storage and the rear camera includes a moving centre line mode so you can hitch up first time.
As with many European SUVs, the Disco’s maximum towball download is just 100kg, so exploiting its claimed 2200kg towing capacity is problematic.
Land Rover’s latest party trick is Tile’s tracker smartphone app, part of the $550 In Control Apps option package not fitted to the test car.
Land Rover says 64 per cent of us spend up to 15 minutes daily looking for belongings. That’s not nearly enough time for me but help is at hand. You download the app and put little Bluetooth tags on your wallet, bag etc, so when you get in the car a synced display on the touchscreen tells you if you’ve forgotten something. If you haven’t a clue where it is, the app can activate an alarm on the relevant tag, so you can track it down. Great, but what if you’ve lost your phone? Nobody ever does that…
Wiggle your foot under the rear bumper and the standard power tailgate opens and closes automatically. Mounted externally under the floor (in the five-seater) is — round of applause — a full-size steel spare.
Compact dimensions make the Disco more manoeuvrable than most seven-seaters, as does light, direct steering.
Small turbo diesels can sometimes struggle in the cut and thrust of traffic but the smooth, quiet Ingenium is strong and responsive from 1500rpm3000rpm, so if you spot an opportunity you can take it.
Nine ratios help the cause and also contribute to single figure economy in town. Shifts in the lower gears can be a touch abrupt.
ON THE ROAD
Torque counts, and with 380Nm from just 1750rpm in a relatively light (1785kg) package, the Disco cruises effortlessly and silently. The nine-speed segues unobtrusively through the ratios but can take a while to kick down from the high gears when you plant the accelerator. There’s no point looking for top end power — there isn’t any.
At 100km/h, in ninth gear, the Ingenium is ticking over at just 1300rpm, averaging 5.0L6.0L/100km.
The Disco Sport actually has no sports pretensions at all and is a better SUV for it.
Compliant suspension and high profile tyres on the base model provide superb ride comfort on rough roads. At sane speeds it handles securely and confidently, with precise, communicative steering and