BE A SPORT SMALL LAND ROVER WILL CAUSE A HEADACHE
LAND Rover’s new Discovery Sport replaces the venerable Freelander in the compact, premium SUV segment.
They are like chalk and cheese, with the newcomer light years ahead of the old timer on all fronts though some of the engine variants are carried over.
IT must be difficult for car manufacturers to plan a new model with the flow of new technology coming through at an ever-quickening rate. How do you predict what’s just around the corner next week let alone next year?
To address that issue, the new Discovery Sport (nothing to do with the Discovery by the way) is crammed full of the latest technology on a number of levels including connectivity, safety, drivetrain, driver assist and even design.
There’s a nine-speed auto for starters and a 5+2 seating layout, a completely new rear suspension system lifted from the latest Jag XE sedan and stuff like torque vectoring, a full time (on demand) all wheel drive system, autonomous auto brake function, lane departure warning, climate control seats (hot or cool), and the engines have been revised with low friction The Discovery Sport will cause a headache for the competition and Land Rover itself because of its looks, features and price. Why would you buy a big one when the middle size one looks this good and costs a bomb less? internals, stop/start and direct injection on both diesel and petrol models.
Our drive car was the mid-spec SD4 Sport SE diesel. The TD4 is below it and HSE and HSE Luxury above. Price with auto transmission is $59,000, with the six-speed manual model $2500 less.
AS this is a completely new model from Land Rover, you get plenty of standard kit including leather, multi electric seat adjustment, premium audio, large infotainment screen, multi-function wheel, cruise, Terrain Response with five modes, paddle shift, regenerative braking, power tailgate, button start, dual zone climate control and other goodies.
On the driver assist front there’s rearview camera, lane departure warning, rear park assist, and the autonomous auto brake among a generous list of kit but option packs can increase the level of features dramatically.
But the SE is fine in terms of value for money and the price is right against the competition – for a new model.
THE engine is a 2.2-litre turbo diesel four with 140kW/420Nm output. The TD4 has less power but the same torque. The test vehicle can use as little as 6.0-litres/100km and indeed, we saw this figure often on the 1000km test drive.
The nine-speed auto might seem like overkill but it’s so smooth and unobtrusive you wouldn’t know it was changing ratios. Feel the need to have a greater input ... you can use the paddle shift and change drive modes.
TYPICALLY, off road ability is top drawer with the Disco Sport capable of venturing a long way off the beaten track thanks in part to the 212mm ride height, clever on demand all wheel drive system, torquey engine and wheel at each corner body design that offers steep approach and departure anglers off road.
Ride quality is exemplary on and off road thanks in part to the new rear multi-link suspension.
New brakes too – bigger than the Freelander and easily capable of stopping the 1775kg Disco Sport.
The bodyshell is a monocoque design using steel and aluminium and feels rock solid in tough off road driving. The body looks fabulous from any angle with a distinct Land Rover family look. It’s arguably the best looker in the range and is quite big when you park it against something like a Lexus NX.
Looking good . . . Land Rover Discovery Sport.