The Land Rover Discovery Sport brings a formidable combination of abilities to the sport-utility party. It’s not cheap – Jaguar Land Rover is aiming at the premium end of the market – but this newcomer will certainly fit the bill for many prospective buyers, particularly those who need a vehicle to fulfil a more multi-purpose role.
To get one thing out of the way first: it’s not a Freelander replacement, says JLR. The Freelander has served its time and the badge is being retired. O… kay.
So it’s not a Freelander. What it is is a member of the middle of the three LR families: Defender, Discovery and Range Rover. Defender is biased towards utility and ruggedness, Range Rover towards refinement and Discovery towards… in ~Land Rover’s words, design leadership and engineering integrity. That sounds like an unfortunately vague mantra for what is, all things considered, a pretty damn impressive package.
First off, it’s compact enough to play with the soft-roaders and station wagons, yet has seven (well, 5+2) seats. Secondly, it lives up to its 4×4 pedigree with an off-tar performance that will leave few wanting and most awestruck. Finally, on the road it’s as comfortable, refined, poised and punchy. To my mind it could be quieter as regards the total package of wind, road and engine noise, but one possible reason for that could be that the launch vehicles seemed to be fitted for the most part with low-profile rubber.
According to JLR, the Discovery Sport’s interior, which has been designed with customers at its core. “It features high-quality materials and a strong vertical centre console graphic to reflect the premium design of the exterior, while the core Discovery value of versatility is evident everywhere. Storage solutions are integrated into the cabin and up to four 12V power points and six USB charging sockets can be specified for all three rows of seating, allowing multiple electronic devices to be charged simultaneously.”
A host of innovations have allowed Land Rover to introduce the versatility of 5+2 seating into the premium compact SUV class for the first time, including an all-new space-saving yet long-travel multi-link rear axle. Off-road credentials are a given in a Land Rover: it has an approach angle of 25 degrees, departure angle of 31 degrees, breakover angle of 21 degrees and wading ability of up to 600 mm. It is fitted as standard with automatic on-demand 4×4 , Land Rover’s familiar Terrain Response technology.
More on-road-oriented features include a first-in-class pedestrian airbag, autonomous emergency braking, a state-of-the-art bodyshell featuring both ultra-high-strength steel and lightweight aluminium, all-new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and tilt-and-slide row-two seating for maximum interior configurability.
At launch the Discovery Sport is equipped with existing four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, though not as yet the high-efficiency Ingenium units.
Price: from about R545 000.