DISCOVER LAND ROVER’S NEW SPORT25 Mar 2015
We bid adieu to our old friend; a friend that carried us through a good 17 years of road trips, tricky English weather, multiple terrains (and girlfriends), pregnant spouses and dreaded school runs. Spanning two generations, we are both saddened yet also super psyched that the Freelander has come to a bittersweet end. Instead, we welcome the new Land Rover Discovery Sport! A justified vehicle with a handful of clever tricks, you’ll be left feeling rather 007 as you pull up to the Waitrose car park – trust us. Sleek, aerodynamic in silhouette, and with those legendary Land Rover capabilities and flexible interior makes this one fine looking piece of – motor. Yes, a fine looking piece of motor.
But how exactly does the new Discovery Sport fit into Jaguar Land Rover’s line-up, plugging the gap where the Freelander used to stand proudly? Well, in order to warrant its Discovery tag, the technologies were tested on all-terrain for more than 18 months in the most gruelling conditions and in over 20 countries. A trouper of the off-road terrains, the company assures that this bad boy will be able to heave itself up one-in-one slopes and wade through 600mm of water effortlessly. Maybe this means our fellow Brits will finally be prepared for the rain? And if not, you can at least show them how it’s done fuss free, just go for the seven-seat version of the Discovery Sport and fit all your friends in (it falls 4cm shorter than the Audi A5, if you were interested). Or for a smaller crew, you can choose the five-seat model.
Regardless, the flexible seating, legroom and load space will make you feel more in control than in your own home – nice contrast from the awkwardly stiff and uncomfortable Freelander of yesteryear. With a sliding second row that can offer similar legroom to a Range Rover, and a third row you can adapt to meet loading or seating needs, finding all this space wasn’t hard at all. The Freelander’s MacPherson strut suspension has been replaced with a more compact multi-link set-up that fits beneath the floor, while the engines are mounted transversely rather than longitudinally (like they are in the Q5), allowing the front seats to be moved further forward towards the sleek, and super high-tech dashboard.
The cutting edge controls evoke (but not as in-you-face as the actual Evoque) a sleek, uncluttered dashboard, featuring Jaguar Land Rover’s all-new operating system and hardware. Controlled by an eight-inch touch-screen with full intuitive interaction, you can access several apps and a range of voice-commands – no eject button or ‘mute’ for the passengers unfortunately, however we’re still to play around with it, so you never know…
But we haven’t mentioned the ‘Sport’ appellation. We’ve noted how it remains in par with the Freelander, differs from the rugged Discovery, but what brings the ‘Sport’ name? Firstly, the new rear suspension set-up is claimed to boost on-road composure, while the front-end construction is borrowed from it’s friend, the ubiquitous Range Rover Evoque. Yet, as with most ‘Sport’ models, the proof is in the engine. With a four-wheel drive system – a Haldex centre coupling linking front and rear – it’s the 2.2-litre SD4 187bhp turbo-diesel engine, another aspect transferred over from the Evoque. Although this is all that’s available on launch, the Discovery Sport will gain further options in the form of a 150bhp eD4 diesel, which will power a front-wheel drive model. Further down the line we will be introduced to Land Rover’s new, curiously-named, family of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, “Ingenuim”. With a plug-in hybrid also in the plans, it’s safe to say JLR really don’t do things by halves.
With prices starting from just over £32,000, if all the above hasn’t got you picking out your driving gloves, maybe the intuitive interactive technology will…
Previewed earlier this year, ironically on a preview of the company’s Freelander replacement, the latest raft of innovations will find their way onto the next generations of Range Rover, Land Rover, and Jaguars. This function is characterised to perfect and aid your off-roading line. However, it may just stop you from running over your child’s ill-placed bicycle.
We’re not extremely confident when it comes to voice recognition – dear Siri is a prime example – unless of course you. Speak. Like. This – let’s not. For Land Rover though, the speech commands are more natural, picking up on key conversational words. So, if your partners telling you their cold, the car will offer to turn up the temperature – how very efficient!
Potentially the oddest addition to any interactive operational system: gesture control. For those who found that flicking the indicator was super hard, all you need do now is flick your finger in the direction you wish to go. Et voila, your indicators are on! Who needs to put their windows down manually in today’s age? Just sweep your hand over the glass and it’s done for you. As for actually getting into this state-of-the-art vessel, swipe your hand outside the door. We know, it doesn’t sound too safe, but fear not, your key must be in your pocket to do so. However, you may want to refrain from doing the hokey cokey whilst driving…
Catered truly to you, the JLR’s clever, robotic-like technology takes information from your calendar and learns your driving habits, predicting your behaviours and, in turn, offers advice from it. From topping up with fuel before road trips and keeping an eye on traffic to ensure you’re on time to your meeting – and if you’re not, it’ll text your colleagues to let them know. And, for those of you a little cautious, you can track your car and set speed restrictions just in case a family member has had one too many speeding tickets.
Something that looks like it’s been pulled from GTA, this virtual window screen allows images to be superimposed for both your own fun, and safety, with virtual braking points and turn-in cones.
Ok, so no ejection button, but at least we’ve finally been offered the power boost that we’ve so patiently been waiting for since 1989. Sourced from energy recovered from the engine, it gives hybrid models a temporary 50bhp power shot when you want to take over (safely, of course). Eat dust little Ford Ka.