The king of off-roading presents a compact and versatile SUV to appeal to a wider range of audience.
I have always been fascinated with the Land Rovers. The idea of being ensconced in luxury and going just about anywhere without any hiccups is definitely an attractive proposition. However, I would like to admit that not all Land Rovers make my head turn. The Freelander has always felt like an adopted kid who has been heavily trained to match the genes of his siblings. I dare say it wasn’t a bad car to drive, but it never really had the flamboyance and flair to match the rest of the models.
Discerning brands in the world understand that the entry level line-up is very important for their financial statements. Brand lovers and prospects of these luxury brands hate being cheated with conscious cost savings and poor quality. This is exactly what Land Rover understood and hit the jackpot with the launch of the Evoque in 2011. Its continuously soaring sales have earned it the badge of the top selling Land Rover. The new Discovery Sport is an effort to replicate the success of the Evoque and to help Land Rover have a stronger base line-up. Land Rover has been selling to the public the idea that the new Discovery Sport is essentially a brand new car and not a Freelander. While it definitely is a new car, it also seems a replacement of the ageing Freelander with a stronger brand borrowed from the successful Discovery range.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport borrows a lot of styling cues from the handsome Evoque, which is a fantastic thing. However, it is a substantially bigger car, which along with the help of some intelligent engineering of engine positioning (Front transverse mounted) and a new compact multi-link rear suspension layout, gives a lot more interior space and makes it a more practical 5+2 seater. There is an increase in the overall length and wheelbase by 91 mm and 80 mm respectively over the current Freelander, but thanks to the new-age construction material of high strength steel and generous use of aluminum, the weight of the car is about the same as the much smaller Freelander.
The tried and tested 2.2 litre engine has been carried over from the Freelander, which is good for about 188 bhp. We should expect only the nine-speed automatic to hit the Indian market, which is a fantastic gearbox and daubs the shortcomings of the ageing engine with various ratio options for different speeds and throttle responses. What is also extremely important for Land Rover buyers is that the all-wheel drive system along with the legendary terrain response system should come standard with this engine option. I am pretty sure that just like all the Land Rovers the Discovery Sport will offer more than required off-roading ability for an average buyer; but we Indians will definitely love driving over water-logged roads in the monsoons!
The Land Rover Discovery Sport offers a mix of versatility, practicality, impressive technology and flair to create a very well balanced package, which should appeal to a wider range of car buyers and enthusiasts. We expect it to hit the Indian market in a few months time. It is time for Audi and BMW to pull out more tricks from their hats and ready the Q5 and X3 for stiffer competition.
You can locate a Land Rover dealer near you from here.