The market for SUV’s is currently going through the roof and the company that arguably pioneered the genre is hastily altering it’s range to suit the buyer’s of these vehicles, that word hastily though may come back to haunt!
The company is of course Land Rover and the new vehicle is the Discovery Sport. Taking it’s styling queues from both the Evoque and Range Rover Sport it fills a niche that had until now been occupied by the Freelander. Whilst Freelander 1 was to many a marmite car , although the TD4 version was actually quite a good vehicle, Freelander 2 was well received from it’s launch in 2007 up until it’s demise in November 2014. To the point that dealers tell me they could still have sold upwards of 70 per year to date. So Discovery Sport has big boots to fill in many ways and to a certain demographic of buyers it will appeal.
That family look brings it bang upto date with a very Range Rover frontal treatment to the lights and bonnet, whilst it’s flanks shout out Evoque, the rake of the window line being most obvious and the rear window being almost identical. Moving inside is a neatly laid out dash and one very neat touch are the two pop up seats in the boot area which makes it a true 7 seater and places it ahead of rivals like X3 in that respect.
General finish is up there too, although my test vehicle was equipped with most options taking it’s price to over £40k….this is where issues start to arise in my eyes.
Freelander’s entry point was around £23k moving upto £30k for a very nicely specified XS, Discovery Sport however starts at £32,300 in it’s base specification, to make it a more attractive proposal you’re looking at over £34k (an equivalent to XS would be around £38k). To my mind that is a very big step in cost for not a huge gain.
How does it drive, very well to be frank, body roll is at acceptable levels, visibility is ok although the window line does make for a smaller panorama than Freelander had. Steering feel is one thing to my mind LandRover has always been good at and it’s easy to forget that you’re in something so large at times.
Headroom was challenging for me at 6ft2” tall, especially in the back where my head touched the roof lining. Drivetrain was identical to that of Freelander and pulls well through the gears in the manual, sadly there was no automatic option there on my visit. Engine choice is 148bhp TD4 or 190 bhp SD4 (automatic) both carried straight over from Freelander. It’s here that ‘hastily’ becomes apparent, Land Rover will be launching a new range of engines (as found in the Jaguar) later in the year which will take MPG up from around 45 to early 60’s.
Other than anyone image conscious I can’t fathom who would therefore buy an early Discovery Sport knowing that their residual will get hammered in 6-9 months when the new engine launches? It’s a strange move from LR and one that I’m told is seeing the price of late used Freelanders exceed their price new at range end!!
To look at, Discovery Sport is a great looking vehicle and to drive is perfectly enjoyable, there’s no doubt LR have got their range image bang on target, however my advice is keep hold of your pennies and wait until the new engine is available.