It seems hard to believe Ford sold Land Rover to the Tata group over seven years ago. Tata have managed to really turn the company round from losing money to being one of the most desirable brands at the moment. They literally had waiting lists for the Evoque, Range Rover Sport and the Range Rover.
The designers and engineers have made the cars not only very good to look at but they are so much better to drive than previous models. The Freelander and Discovery had just been tweaked and no major design work had been done to either car until now. This brings me neatly on to the Discovery Sport which has been launched very recently; it is the upmarket replacement for the Freelander. This car is a very luxurious SUV that has the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 firmly in its sights. It is much more stylish than the outgoing car and it really has the Evoque’s rakish profile. The Discovery Sport does not use the same quality materials as the Evoque which let’s not forget is a Range Rover.
The dash looks great but a Range Rover driver would know where the cutbacks have been made in materials and finish. The gear selector rises from the centre console and the dashboard and switches have all been taken from the Evoque. They have also fitted an electric handbrake which frees up a fair amount of space. The Discovery Sport has the option of either five or seven seats; with the seats up the car has 981 litres of boot space, drop them and the car has a very van like 1698 litres of space. The car has absolutely acres of storage space and cup holders all over. They have even seven USB sockets throughout the cabin.
A nine-speed gearbox is available and a six-speed manual is standard. After driving both cars I would recommend paying the extra £1800 for the automatic box as it really transforms the car. The car’s Achilles heel is the old 2.2lt diesel engine is not only slow but it’s really noisy as well. When you start the car up the engine has an agricultural tone although once warm it does get quieter. It gets to 60mph in less than nine seconds; it also gets from 30-70 miles per hour in nine seconds, with the cars top speed being 117mph. Land Rover are bringing out a two-wheel drive version which will be better on economy and it will cost under £30,000 but it will also be much cheaper for company car drivers. A 2.0lt diesel engine will also be launched next year, this promises to be much more economical but it will be much more refined than the current 2.2lt diesel engine.
The car is priced from £30,000 and the range topping car is £42,995. The car is available in three trims, starting with the SE Manual, SE Tech and the range-topping HSE. The SE features part leather trim, climate and cruise control, heated front seats, Bluetooth, rear sensors, 8” colour touch screen and DAB radio. The SE Tech also gets Sat Nav, auto lights and wipers, front parking sensors and a power tailgate. The HSE also gets full leather interior, panoramic sunroof, Xenon and running lights, keyless entry, heated rear seats and rear view camera. The Discovery Sport is 80mm longer than the Evoque. You may
see the Discovery Sport towing quite a lot of caravans as it can tow 2200-2500kgs. So expect to see quite a few around. Like Range Rovers the Discovery is fitted with a Terrain Response control, but it really needs air suspense on rather than the coil springs fitted to the car. The car also features permanent four wheel drive and it’s not afraid to wade in water up to 600mm or flex its muscles off-road. The car’s ride is nowhere near as good as the Evoque’s but the Discovery Sport feels very agile on twisty country roads. The steering is very sharp and direct and it really feels like a car to drive despite its size.
I have seen the car in a few colours but my favourite is a grey colour with the Black Edition pack. This pack costs £1500 but it really transforms the car with black alloy wheels, black grille and exterior trim. I was amazed to find out the original Discovery was launched over 25 years ago to fit in the range between the Defender and the Range Rover. This car is a really stylish change to the Freelander; you can see styling cues from the Evoque. I am sure this car will sell like hot cakes but it’s a shame they didn’t put the new engine in straight away.
Car courtesy of Land Rover UK | landrover.co.uk