Simon Lai road tests and reviews the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport at its Australian Launch.
The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is the brand’s new compact class SUV replacing the former Land Rover Freelander line.
With a less ‘boxy’ body than its forerunner, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is more elegant and similar to most SUV designs on the market borrowing styling cues from the Range Rover Evoque especially on the front half. Overall kerb weight is lighter thanks to the use of aluminium in the upper panelling.
The tail end sees the addition of a large body-coloured c-pillar and room for a third row of seats, but we’ll get to that later.
This smaller Discovery comes in two transmission options - a six-speed manual or a nine-speed auto – and two specifications in the 2.2L diesel engine. The TD4 produces 110kW of power and 400Nm of torque while its big brother delivers 140kW and 420Nm.
For those who want a petrol option there is the 2.0L Si4 automatic for $59,000 with of course more power and less torque (177kW/340Nm).
The entry level price of $53,330 will get you into the SE TD4 manual and may be pushing the budget for most.
For the drive, we had the automatic SE and HSE grades available to us with the more powerful SD4 engine. The SE SD4 goes for $59,000 while an HSE SD4 is priced at $63,600.
The top of line HSE Luxury auto will set you back a whopping $69,000.
Covering mainly scenic country roads around the Brindabella ranges out of the nation’s capital the ride was quiet and very comfortable due to the improved suspension. It’s so secure you won’t know what speed you’re doing. Power from the diesel engine could have a little more grunt from a standing start and the steering was a little too light for my liking.
We also took on a few gravel roads which is where the Discovery Sport showed off its talents.
The new model is fitted with a whole host of technology to keep you on the road and includes a Terrain response system. There are four terrain settings that cover surfaces like gravel, mud, snow and sand which, as Land Rover says, controls the steering, throttle, braking and other stability systems.
Testing its limits when pushing it along gravel on a bend, the computer would sense the drift and correct itself. I could feel a fishtailing effect on the back end and compensation in the wheel and the vehicle was still (miraculously) on the road.
After we grabbed lunch at the Mt Stromlo Observatory we proceeded to the 4WD portion of the drive which is where I was looking forward to putting it to the real test.
The unsealed fire trails were not overly challenging being mostly flat and even. With 400Nm under the bonnet, the Sport handled some rather steep inclines with no problem.
But it’s the descents that were the more impressive.
Engaging the Hill Descent Control leaves the driver to only steer the vehicle as the system controls the speed of the drive without having to tap the brake. The steering wheel controls also allow the driver to set the maximum speed of the HDC and can be overridden by the accelerator. So it’s like slow cruise control for going down hills.
While behind the wheel the touchscreen can display illustrate the 4WD lock, torque distribution and direction of the wheels.
Land Rover has included a new infotainment system which is a step up from the systems in the rest of the range. This includes a large 8” touchscreen which you can swipe just like your smartphone and can also sync with your phone and control your apps.
Being land rover there’s a list of optional extras as long as your arm including the usual heated seats, panoramic roof and exterior contrast roof as well as a couple of cool features worth mentioning.
For the times you may have to cross a water feature, there is a wade sensing guide which gives you a graphical representation on-screen of the height and angle of the water.
Plus there is the option to add an extra two seats in the third row to create a 7-seater. This will cost you $1990 and is honestly quite cramped but a great inclusion to have in an emergency or for the little ones.
The Discovery Sport comes standard with a USB port as well as two USB charging points in both the first and second row and if you get the 5+2 seat option that will make for a total of 7 USB inputs! So no more complaints from the back seat.
The model has been given a 5-Star ANCAP rating and comes with an autonomous emergency braking system and the full complement of airbags, topped off by a pedestrian airbag on the bonnet.
The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is another quality and advanced offering by Land Rover. A great combination of safety, innovation, versatility and off-road capability it’s a winner in my books.
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