Due to a number of unforeseen circumstances over the last few months, I managed to miss every opportunity to drive the all-new Land Rover Discovery Sport. It is probably one of the most significant new models to reach SA in 2015, so when somebody asked me recently if I’d like to have a go, I was seated behind the wheel before he could finish the sentence!
The Discovery Sport is basically a new Freelander, ever though Land Rover says it isn’t. It’s more or less the same size, uses the same engine, and has the same off-road ability, but costs a little bit more than the now defunct Freelander.
But it’s now a Discovery — a badge that has done a lot for Land Rover over the past decade. And it’s proud of that, judging by the in-your-face lettering across the clamshell bonnet.
I really like the way it looks. It’s not as ostentatious as the Range Rover Sport, but it doesn’t exactly blend into a crowd, either. In my view, Land Rover’s current design ethos is spot on. It’s immediately recognisable, with its perfect blend of muscle and sophistication.
The interior is very well executed. There are many standard features, and the quality of the materials is superb. It’s also practical, which is something the people who use it for family holidays and off-road adventures will enjoy very much.
The highlight for me was the standard sound system. I wouldn’t even recommend the high-end system, as the standard one does a pretty good job of delivering outstanding sound quality at high volume.
On tar, the Sport was a masterpiece. The new nine-speed automatic gearbox does a stellar job in and around town. The steering is light when you are buzzing around at low speed, but it weighs up nicely as the pace increases.
I drove mostly on gravel, however, and that’s where the Disco really excels. I was following a Defender for the entire route and couldn’t help but notice how the passengers in that car were bouncing up and down on a few badly corrugated roads. In the Disco Sport we were perfectly comfortable. It’s like off-roading in a Lufthansa business class seat.
The Sport basically does all the work for you. It comes as standard with Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, so you just tell it about the type of surface you’re on and point it where you want to go.
The 2,2-litre turbocharged diesel engine feels a bit outdated, but power figures are still decent enough. It delivers 140kW and 420Nm of torque, and the fuel consumption on the trip averaged around 10l/100km.
It’s worth noting that the Disco Sport’s current engine line-up will soon be replaced by a host of all-new petrol and diesel offerings, so if you’re in the market, hold off until these models arrive.