Discovery Sport - setting a benchmark
Land Rover has had an undeniable run of success, especially with the off-road community throughout the year. Since its origin in 1947, drivers have looked to it for its to-the-point driving mandate. Now, the brand has carved out a new niche in the luxury SUV bracket, which even has celebrities using its vehicles as a fashion symbol.
Truth be told, I've always stayed away from doing high-end luxury vehicles and opted for the more practical models that the average Jamaican is more likely to drive. However, after talking with the brass at Stewart's Automotive Group, they convinced me to try a vehicle from the Land Rover line.
I guess they realised my mindset, so they chose something that was engaging and gave me the Discovery Sport. Within a minute of driving it on South Camp Road, I was blown away by its power and handling, which gave me a whole new experience of what an SUV can do.
The aggressive acceleration and agility of this vehicle is down right breathtaking, especially with its SUV frame and ground clearance. All this gave it a driving experience that was second to none where the synergy between mechanics and comfort is concerned. If you are in doubt, just ask for a test drive.
Not forgetting the past
The Firenze Red paint bleeds all over the sheet metal in a manner that effortlessly attracts attention. Such was the case when I was driving through Ferry and a police officer stopped me to 'get a closer look at the car.' He then articulated, "Bwoy, it look good. Yuh can go thru, skipper."
Pair this colour with characteristic design cue and the Discovery easily becomes an SUV that stands out from the pack. The strong, dynamic lines and the signature clamshell bonnet take it back to its roots while the rising beltline and tapering roof make you know that it's not afraid of making certain changes with the times.
Perhaps the design adjustment from the previous model that I was most happy about was the third window panel beside the D pillar. It looked out of sync with the design theme of the rest of the vehicle, and clearly, Land Rover heard the complains. So now, the rear is tapered off perfectly to give the Discovery an aesthetically welcoming look.
Despite its raw power, this vehicle is built with family in mind as there are cues throughout the cabin. First, there is a designated child-safety lock button on the driver's door panel along with four 12V power points and six USB charging sockets throughout the vehicle. With so many tech-loving kids, these novelties will definitely come in handy for those tablets and cell phones. There are also pronounced ISO fix points in the rear for baby seats.
The bold, vertical centre console, which also houses the eight-inch touch screen, looks simple and elegant, with all the functions layed out in a simplistic manner. The overall interior feels spacious as the dashboard and centre console tilt away from the driver and there is the panoramic moonroof, which brings in extra light. In addition to this, there are superb finishes throughout the cabin, with premium leather that gives a luxury feel, especially the leather seats.
Feeling the fun
The turbo charged two-litre engine, which Land Rover refers to as 2.0L Si4, effortlessly produces 240 horsepower with an aggressive acceleration that pushes you into your seat. Equally important are the single-piston sliding caliper brakes engage all four tyres and bring the vehicle to an immediate stop whenever needed.
I could go down the list of features like roll stability control or the intuitive park brake system. At the end of the day, what is important is that they work in unison. If this vehicle were an animal, it would be a cheetah. The suspension adapts to the corners without any body roll, and the nose goes anywhere the steering is pointed.
A rotary knob, which comes out of the centre console, controls the basic driving options such as park and reverse. Once drive is selected, it can be activated for a more engaging experience. To deactivate this option, simply pull the 'gear up' paddle shifter for a few seconds.
Dimension-wise it doesn't seal. However, there are sensors at the front and back. At times, they can be very aggressive, with a loud beeping sound that is sure to get the driver's attention. If the driver's spatial thinking is good, I recommend deactivating it in certain situations as the sound can get a little annoying.
As for the shocks, they are some of the most impressive I've felt in a long while. To put it to the test, I decided to take it to the maintenance-neglected roads of St Thomas. The ride was very comfortable, and little to no vibration was felt in the cabin as the dampers absorb everything.
My only gripe is that the vehicle has a tendency to always put a large percentage of the power to the front wheels. I know that if there was a 60/40 split with the power, it would take some pressure of the front tyres given the sheer power of the engine. Nonetheless, this didn't take away from the high fun factor of driving the Discovery Sport. It's something you can drive around all 14 parishes and never feel tired. It's a vehicle that has embraced its off-road past and thus possesses a ruggedness and versatility that has been complemented by creature comforts to ensure that the driver enjoys the ride.
Single-piston sliding caliper brakes
68.5 litres fuel tank
Fixed panoramic roof
Cost: $10.9 million
Tested model: Range Rover Discovery Sport
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