‘Sir took it straight to Ladakh’, said the executive at the company’s flagship showroom in Mumbai when I asked about the last Freelander 2 that they sold. Apparently the customer took the delivery and drove it straight to one of the most spectacular and treacherous routes in the country and perhaps even in the world. I was at the showroom to test drive the Discovery Sport, the successor to the Freelander 2 and the first of many in the line of Discovery vehicles which according to the company will be delivering the same robust off-roading capabilities of the Freelander while borrowing luxury and style elements from its premium Range Rover cousins.
Compared to its squarish and geometric predecessor the Discovery Sport is curvy, oh, yes, she has a lot of them. One look and it is much evident that it borrows its DNA from the Range Rover Evoque. A huge grill, swanky DRL’s, with prominent badging give it a very nice stance. The result a bigger and more upmarket successor to the Freelander.
Step inside and you are greeted by the minimalist dashboard, it feels modest when compared to the more expensive Range Rover Evoque. Though not luxurious, it is definitely premium. The dials are easy to read and on the center dash is the 8 inch touchscreen system which runs the latest version of Land Rover’s software. A huge upgrade from the earlier version the touchscreen is now much intuitive and easy to use. To help you off-road it comes with the Terrain management system which displays differential and steering inputs in real time. The front seats are eight way adjustable (the top trim offers 10 way electric adjustment and memory function), they are extremely comfortable and once you have adjusted it to your sweet spot it would be more like your living room couch on wheels. The second row seats are equally comfortable and there is enough space in the back seats even if the front seats are adjusted for 6” feet plus passengers. With the passing transmission tunnel the seats are best comfortable for two passengers only. Our test car came with the optional third row seats (Rs 1.7 lacs) which are so low that even a 5 year old kid would be uncomfortable on it. Thankfully the seats can be folded with a press of a button for extra storage space. Air-conditioning is effective as the rear passengers get their own individual vents, however it’s only the front passengers that get their dedicated temperature zones.
The Discovery Sport is offered in four trims our test vehicle was the second from the top (HSE) which came with navigation, rear view camera, Bluetooth / USB connectivity and a Meridian 11 speaker sound system.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport packs a 2.2 liter 4 cylinder turbocharged diesel engine under the hood. The top trim gets the SD4 engine which delivers 187 hp of power. All the other trims which included our test vehicle get the TD4 engine which produces 147 hp of power. The engine is mated to a 9 speed ZF transmission, yes you read that right, an output of 147 bhp and 9 gears does weigh down on the car especially at lower speeds but once you are down 3 gears sluggishness makes way for responsiveness. 0 to 100 km/hr mark also comes at a very modest 11.98 seconds. Overall the power-delivery is linear and you will find the engine beautifully humming along at 1200 rpm while cruising at 110 – 120 km/hr on the 9th gear. The refined engine and the smooth transmission translate into a delightful cruising experience. The all independent suspension delivers a smooth ride be it the good, bad or evil city roads or the tar laden highways. The top variant comes with adaptive suspension which smoothes the ride even more. The steering offers decent feedback and increases its weight along with the speed.
Go off-roading and this is where the 9 speed gear box shows its might, the idle car simply stands still on slopes which would be difficult to even walk on. Though it is not a serious off-roader the full time AWD along with the onboard Terrain management system and the various off-road management programs deliver a decent experience whilst conquering the obstacles.
The Discovery Sport comes with a plethora of safety and driving aids – ABS with EBD, Dynamic stability control, Hill start assist, Traction control, TPMS, corner brake control, Roll stability control, Trailer stability assist and last but not the least 7 airbags.
With a starting price of 48 lacs the Discovery Sport is the cheapest offering in the Range Rover portfolio. It goes head on against the Mercedes GLE, BMW X3, Audi Q5 and the Volvo XC60. While the competition has a bit more to offer when it comes to features and performance, the Discovery Sport tried to shadow that when it comes to looks, off-roading capabilities and driving comfort. I just can’t stress enough on what a comfortable cruiser the Discovery Sport is.
|Engine||2179cc, 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve|
|Power||150 PS @ 3500 RPM|
|Torque||400 Nm @ 1750 RPM|
|Transmission||9-speed ZF automatic|
|Top speed||180 km/hr|
|City fuel efficiency||10.5 km/l|
|Highway fuel efficiency||12 km/l|
|Safety||ABS with EBD, Hill Start Assist, RSC, DSC, Traction Control|
|Price, ex-showroom (Mumbai)|| Rs 62 lacs