Last week we told you that the iconic Freelander 2 had been put to sleep, and that there's a new SUV that will carry the torch forward. That very SUV is called the Land Rover Discovery Sport. It starts from where the Freelander left off. Plus, its now modern, more appealing and in sync with Land Rover's new design theme.
If you take a nice, long look at the Disco Sport, you'll see some similarities with the Evoque, especially from the rear. Gone are the days of boxy Landies; the designers at LR now know that looks sell. That face is very Land Rover. It's got a huge grille and a tall hood, and of course, a very prominent badge right on its nose. Swanky looking DRLs work well, and so does the overall styling. The rear too has been designed well. A bit of Evoque in it, but not too much for it to lose its character. The tail lamps are integrated seamlessly into the styling and give it that unmistakable look from the back.
Land Rover has chucked the Freelander's platform and made a brand new one for the Disco Sport. It now balances on-road and off-road driving with equal poise. The Freelander 2 felt a bit jittery at high speed, but this one's different. It's calm and composed, even at full blast.
The Freelander leaned more towards off-roading, and was a capable car. But LR has found a nice balance with this one. On-road dynamics have improved. The steering is not as light as the Freelander's and doesn't need constant correcting on the highway, but it also gives the right amount of assist at low speeds.
Like all LRs, the Discovery Sport loves muck and dirt. It comes with the Terrain Response System to help you off-road. Depending on the terrain you are driving on, the computers alter settings to help you best tackle it. If you want a low-range transfer case and a height-adjustable suspension, you'll have to look at the Rangies, but otherwise, this one has adequate hardware to take you off-road to a fair extent.
Having said that, we'd also like to report that there are a few bits on the Disco Sport that do stop it from going that extra mile. For example, it's got these little mud flaps ahead of the front wheels. They're low and susceptible to a hit if you're planning to go over biggish boulders. And the wheels don't articulate to a great extent, stopping you from going into troughs that the Freelander would easily go through.
Though the platform, styling and almost everything on the Disco Sport is brand new, they've carried over the Freelander's engine\: the 2.2-litre four-cylinder oil burner. It's available in two sets of tune - 147bhp and 187bhp. What we have here is the less powerful 147bhp, 400Nm unit. On paper, it might not sound like much, but on the road, it's quite sufficient. All of that torque is available right from 1,750 revs and the mid range is punchy too. Refinement levels are high and you won't feel any vibrations in the cabin.
The engine is mated to the new ZF-sourced 9-speed gearbox that we saw in the Evoque earlier this year. It's a nice piece of kit and plenty of ratios mean that the engine is kept running at the appropriate speed almost all the time. The 0-100kph time isn't something to brag about, a modest 11.91 seconds.
The Disco Sport is modern and how a mid-size premium SUV should be in almost all the ways, but the cabin isn't as impressive as say the ML's or the X3's. The dash is all new and we don't have any complaints about the quality or the design either. But the centre console is a letdown. There's the rise-up gear dial, yes, but it's too simple and plain-Jane for 2015. You may call it a simplistic approach, but it takes away the 'wow' factor from the cabin.
There's ample space for passengers in the front and middle rows, but the same can't be said about the third row. The car's overall length of 4.6 metres just isn't enough to accommodate three rows of seating.
The Disco Sport starts at Rs 46.1 lakh and goes up to Rs 62.2 lakh for the 187bhp HSE Luxury version. That's very close to the Evoque. In fact, there's only a difference of Rs 2 lakh compared to the Evoque. Should you pay a little more and buy a Range Rover, or should you stick to the Disco Sport? Well, if you are flamboyant kind of a guy, the Evoque will suit you fine. But if you want practicality and added space, and want to save some money, get the Disco. It's capable, well-rounded and does almost everything just fine, but it's difficult to point out that one thing that it does exceptionally well.
Specs2179cc, 4cyl, turbo diesel, 147bhp, 400Nm, 9A, AWD, 0-100kph\: 11.91sec, city kpl\: 10.8, highway kpl\: 14, top speed\: 210kph, Rs 54.83 lakh (ex-Maharashtra)VerdictA competent replacement to the Freelander. Looks good, drives well and is modern in all the ways you can think of.