Who doesn’t love a Range Rover? The Evoque certainly stimulated a new market for the Range but alongside it in the Land Rover stable have been a couple of other vehicles which are set for a refresh of their own. This week, we got a first look and solid test drive of the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
Goodbye Freelander, the smaller sibling in the Land Rover/Range Rover range of vehicles is on the way out and its replacement is the stylish new Discovery Sport.
Here’s our Video review:
Who’s it for?
As a smaller sized SUV this is going to suit families who don’t want the huge SUV given the tightness of shopping centre car-parks and school pickup, but as a luxury vehicle there’s going to be a desire for this vehicle among families shopping for a car in the $55,000 plus category.
More on the price later, the real selling point for this car is the seating. Head over to Audi or BMW to find a small luxury SUV and you’ll get five seats – at a squeeze. The Discovery Sport is a 5+2, a seven seater. yep, that’s right.
The extra two seats are available as an option on all models for a bit over $2,000 and frankly, a great investment.
To have the capability of taking a few extra kids is a big deal for families who are trying to help out fellow parents at the kid’s school and I know my wife is going to be very keen to get this on our shopping list.
The space inside is ridiculous for the category, up front it’s all comfort and luxury, then the second row can move back and forward over a total of 160mm which can dramatically increase your rear load capacity, and if you’ve got kids in the back row you can shift it forward to give them more leg room.
Sitting in the back is possible for Adults, but you wouldn’t want to be going further than a block or two – your knees are around your ears. For kids though, it’s ideal.
My biggest issue as a Commodore owner is the limitations of a dirt track. Yep, I can cruise a dirt track no problems, but if there’s rain about or any chance of a few ruts or hills, it’s a no-go.
I have no plans to drive the Birdsville Track, but I would love to go a bit off the paved roads into the national parks and mountains to experience some of the more isolated scenic spots.
There are lookouts and tracks spotted all over our great nation, with just the basic off-road capabilities these come within reach, but what the Discovery Sport has is a lot more than basic.
I’ve never done 4WD’ing. But facing a steep decline off the top of a large hill, all I had to do was engage Hill Decent Control on the Discovery Sport, and then use the Cruise Control functions on the steering wheel to set a decent speed. At its lowest setting you’ll potter down at 5km/hour.
It will do all the work, you just need to shadow the brake and chime in when you need, but I took an entire downhill with bumps and ruts without touching the pedals once. It was amazing.
It’s like Cruise Control for off-roading. And anyone can do it.
Of course there are modes for sand, snow and gravel, plus mud and ruts, and cruising at speed on a heavily gravelled road felt unbelievable.
On a bend I could feel the stability control kick in to help me from slipping away, at times when I knew the car should slide I felt it bring me back, it felt almost like there was a second set of wheels under us bringing the car back into line.
The confidence it gave me was excellent, and it meant I could focus on the twists and turns of a mountain-side road.
There’s little doubt this vehicle can handle the off-road adventures of 90% or more Aussies who want to go somewhere they haven’t before. And from what I saw yesterday it’s something I want to do more of. You see roads and places you’ve never seen before – and that’s brilliant.
The Tech Inside
A USB port for every occupant. Yep, you read that correctly. In the seven seat configuration there are 7 USB ports, all 5V, and in the 5 seat there’s five. Simple. And that means both mum and dad can charge their phones on the go, while the kids devices will stay charged no matter where you are.
I know it’s a simple thing, but that’s the kind of thinking that gets people over the line when comparing cars.
Outside you’ve got a bonnet air-bag for the unlikely event there’s a pedestrian impact, and inside the infotainment system has been updated in what seems leaps and bounds compared to the aged and less than optimal user experience in the older Jaguar/Land Rover vehicles.
With a capacitive touch-screen you’ve got swipe and easy touch access to all your entertainment (including DAB+ Digital Radio) and Navigation.
Plus, Land Rover has an app connect suite which allows some apps on your smartphone to integrate with the car. Land Rover though have no plans to introduce Apple Car Play or Android Auto any time soon.
There’s a manual variant which will set you back $53,300 (plus on roads), but the Auto’s start at $55,800 heading up to $69,000 depending on fit, finish and engine.
It’s a steal at that price. Seven seats – are you kidding me? If they can get people into showrooms, this thing should do very well for Land Rover.