By Khulekani Dumisa
Recently we travelled to the Western Cape for the launch of the updated Land Rover Discovery Sport. The overall impression from the updates is that the Discovery Sport has shifted from being just a spiritual successor to the Freelander to being a refined and luxurious member of the Land Rover family that best aligns with the rest of the line-up, especially the Discovery that it gets its name from.
On paper, the Discovery Sport does not seem to have changed much from the previous model but the new signature LED headlamps at the front and back, a new front grille and new front and back bumpers have done a lot to make the car distinguishable from the previous model. Gone are the round lights which made the car look slightly dated and round. The car appears chiseled and stylish now, giving it a more modern look.
The new Discovery Sport is available in South Africa in Base and S trim levels, or sportier R-Dynamic variants in S, SE and HSE trim which feature Satin Dark Grey alloy wheels, unique front and rear bumpers and Shadow Atlas script on the bonnet and tailgate.
Inside, ebony seats with contrast stitching, black gearshift paddles (on some models) and unique tread plates are offered to provide an “edgier character.” In terms of practicality, Land Rover says the updates provide improved small item stowage across all three rows and a 20 per cent increase in fuel tank capacity (up to 65-litres) meaning fewer stops at the petrol station.
The Touch Pro infotainment system stands out for its elegance and ease of use. The configuration might have you unwittingly engage the Terrain Progress Control (aka cruise control for off-roading) whilst you try to adjust the temperature. Once you get over that, you will appreciate the wireless charging (for compatible mobile devices) which is introduced for the first time within the lower centre console, while a 4G WiFi hotspot, alongside USB and 12-volt connectivity ports are offered on every row. Second and third row occupants also benefit from individual heating and ventilation controls to make the space more comfortable.
The latest Discovery Sport is available with a ClearSight Rear View mirror that transforms into a video screen at the flick of a switch to display what is behind the vehicle in crisp high definition. The mirror ensures rear visibility is not compromised by second row passengers or bulky items in the boot. ClearSight Ground View technology has been introduced to help drivers navigate high city centre kerbs or tackle rough terrain by projecting camera imagery that offers a virtual 180-degree view beneath the vehicle onto the touchscreen effectively making the bonnet invisible.
There is a reversing camera as standard on all models, alongside a suite of optional advanced driver assistance systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Steering Assist, Lane Keep Assist and Driver Condition Monitor.
Engine and drive
In Mzansi, a diesel and a petrol option is offered. The diesel draws its power from a 2.0 litre 4-cylinder (badged D180) turbodiesel engine with 132kW of power and 430 Nm. Claimed combined fuel consumption is a decent 5.8l/100km. Acceleration from 0-100km/h happens in 9.7 seconds and top speed is 202km/h. The petrol offering also draws its power from a 2.0 litre engine with 184kW of power and 365 Nm of torque. Fuel consumption is claimed to be a combined 8.0l/100km. The P250-badged Discovery Sport can reach 100km/h in 7.6 seconds and maximum speed is set at 225km/h.
We had a go at the D180 at launch. The launch route provided a mix of town and open roads. The car drives well but can seem hesitant at low speeds as it attempts to select the right gear. Get the car to speed and all that seems forgotten. In fact the heaps of torque at your disposal make overtaking and hitting inclines effortless. The 7-seater SUV also holds its own in corners. You obviously have to keep in mind that it is not from the SVR division but attacking every corner at the prescribed speed limits leaves you beaming with confidence. Another stand out element in the drive is comfort. Land Rover says that the new body is 13 per cent stiffer than its predecessor, with rigidly-mounted subframes that provide maximum safety in the event of a collision, reduce noise and vibration intrusion into the cabin and improve comfort. We can attest to this. We also drove the car on gravel. The ride quality remained nearly as it were on tar and not much noise made it into the cabin.
The Discovery Sport’s most obvious USP is the seven-seater configuration (5+2) really but competitors are catching up on that. The trump cards are essentially new looks, raft of technological features and off-road capability. The latter is made easier by the employment of technology in executing stunts you wouldn’t otherwise attempt. The Discovery Sport is definitely worth a consideration if you are looking in this segment.
New Discovery Sport prices*:
Discovery Sport D180 AWD Automatic R749,500
Discovery Sport D180 S AWD Automatic R795,500
Discovery Sport D180 AWD R-Dynamic S Automatic R819,100
Discovery Sport D180 AWD R-Dynamic SE Automatic R855,300
Discovery Sport D180 AWD R-Dynamic HSE Automatic R897,800
Discovery Sport P250 AWD Automatic R759,900
Discovery Sport P250 S AWD Automatic R805,800
Discovery Sport P250 AWD R-Dynamic S Automatic R829,500
Discovery Sport P250 AWD R-Dynamic SE Automatic R865,700
Discovery Sport P250 AWD R-Dynamic HSE Automatic R908,100
All Land Rover vehicles come standard with a 5 Year Care Plan with a 100,000km warranty and servicing within in 5 year period, whichever comes first.
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