Land Rover Discovery Sport

Built like a Freelander, acts like a Land Rover

"Discovery Sport is Land Rover's new rival to the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60"

"Not a Freelander auxiliary" said Issam

"Discovery Sport is a high end, compact SUV that focuses on versatility as opposed to the Range Rover Evoque"

"New Discovery family member" 

I landed in Iceland. God only knows why. Although Iceland is greener during the summer, I am still wondering why Greenland was called so. They should have switched names. Anyhow, Land Rover chose one of the most gorgeous places, I'd rather say "must see" before you die, on planet earth for the Discovery Sport's first drive.

What's the Discovery Sport?
Honestly, when I came back to the Middle East many of my friends and some of our followers on social media asked us about it. Many of them thought it was the LR4 replacement. In fact, that is not the case. I would somewhat say it is the Freelander's cousin. It is built at the same factory but acts differently than the outgoing Freelander.

It's a new part of Land Rover's strategy for the future that includes three families of vehicles. The Range Rover lineup stresses luxury and refinement, the Discovery models will focus on versatility, and the forthcoming Defender range will be all about utility and durability. Under every single family of Discovery, Range Rover and Defender there will be three models. That makes it a total of nine models under the Land Rover Badge.

Exterior
There's no mistaking this SUV on the road, as it clearly looks like part of the Land Rover family. The "Discovery" badge on the hood helps, too. Discovery Sport takes Discovery design in a more dynamic direction. Optimized volume, proportions and stance ensure a striking visual impact without compromising the functionality and engineering excellence for which the iconic Discovery nameplate is world-renowned.

At 4590mm long, Discovery Sport's compact footprint is 239mm shorter than the seven seat Land Rover Discovery - which also remains on sale - while its generous wheelbase of 2741mm creates exceptional legroom. This has also allowed Land Rover designers to pull the alloy wheels out towards all four corners of the vehicle. The result is a visually robust, compact stance and low center of gravity that's suggestive of Discovery Sport's agile, planted driving experience. Sleek, wraparound corners further reduce visual bulk of the front overhang.

Signature features include a clamshell bonnet and distinctive two-bar grille with hexagonal mesh. Characteristic design cues complement the perfectly balanced proportions. Smoothly contoured body surfaces, strong and dynamic lines, and robust detailing including rugged skid plates signal Discovery Sport's incredible breadth of capability. The fast bonnet line with a pronounced step into the rising belt line conveys a dramatic stance, while the roof tapers subtly downwards, adding extra dynamism.

Discovery Sport's dynamic profile optimizes aerodynamic efficiency with an impressive 0.36Cd, improving performance, fuel economy and refinement. Wind noise has been minimized through Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and exhaustive wind tunnel tests. Particular attention has been paid to key areas such as the shape of the A-pillar and door mirrors, and a special acoustic windscreen lamination reduces wind noise still further.

Additional CFD tests were used to greatly reduce road grime or dirt transferred onto the rear of the car, which is particularly beneficial on unmade roads or during harsh winters.

Discovery Sport's optimized volume and proportions are enhanced with carefully considered design details. A strong C-pillar graphic is the key in creating the vehicle's dynamic profile; it rakes dramatically forwards and stops short of the gloss-black window surrounds, allowing for an optional contrast roof graphic.

A bold new interpretation of Discovery headlamp design makes a strong visual impact, with a slim, wraparound design and circular daytime running lights (DTRLs). The DTRLs are punctuated at four equal intervals to represent the points of the compass and underline the sense of adventure integral to Discovery DNA.

All Discovery Sports are fitted with Halogen headlamps and DTRLs, upper trim levels feature signature headlamps, and customers can also specify signature plus headlamps. Signature headlamps feature Xenon and LED technology, while signature plus adds adaptive-cornering technology to match the light beam to the driver's steering angle.

The headlamps' striking graphics are echoed in the tail lamps, with a wraparound design and a choice of standard or signature lamps.

Robust bumpers reflect the go-anywhere capability of Discovery Sport. The front bumper houses large outboard air intakes with premium LED fog lamps, while a bold trapezoidal lower intake conveys a sense of strength and houses the central bumper beam and skid plate. The rear bumper reinforces this bold design theme with a rugged skid plate flanked by twin exhaust outlets.

Land Rover's distinctive fender vents receive a fresh interpretation for Discovery Sport, with a horizontal, blade-like graphic that flows into the feature line sweeping along the body. Purposeful wheel-arch moldings with distinctive castellations pay homage to Land Rover's unique heritage.

At the rear of the vehicle, the spoiler's carefully crafted inner extensions optimize airflow for exceptional aerodynamic efficiency. A centrally mounted high-level spot lamp uses advanced LED light-pipe technology for a distinctive and visible ribbon of light.

Interior
Discovery Sport's interior has been designed to provide a versatile and calming space; one in which every occupant feels equally comfortable and the driver can pay maximum attention to the road. Its highly configurable 5+2 seating is unique in segment.

At an early stage in the vehicle's development program, Land Rover designers invited a large cross-section of families to a UK development center and watched as they climbed into a variety of existing SUVs, accessed third row seating, synced electronic devices, attached child seats to Isofix anchor points and placed drinks containers in cup holders. The results helped shape the Discovery Sport into the most versatile premium compact SUV.

Discovery Sport's interior is an inclusive and highly configurable space, making it perfect for demanding family schedules and active lifestyles. Land Rover designers have prioritized head, knee and shoulder room, and interior space is excellent in all derivatives thanks to a wheelbase of 2741mm, while the backs of the front seats are ergonomically contoured to unlock even more knee room.

A selection of four trim levels is available: S, SE, HSE and HSE Luxury. From SE specification, the second-row seating is offered with tilt and slide functionality, and is individually adjustable with a 60:40 split. This enables row two occupants to recline their seats or slide them forwards or back by a class-leading 160mm. It also provides as much as 112mm of knee room and 1011mm of leg room - almost as accommodating as a Range Rover. Alternatively, load capacity can be increased as desired from 829 liters to as much as 981 liters with row two seats in place.

Both these innovations have proved key in allowing Land Rover to offer unique in segment 5+2 seating. This provides occasional rear seating that's not only easy to access and comfortable for third row passengers, but can also be folded away to provide luggage volume equal to that of a five seat derivative. In fact, both second and third rows can be folded down using one hand to create an even more spacious load area. The load space floor has been located as low down as possible, increasing space and ensuring that even large items are easy to load and unload.

Row-two seating is naturally specified with Isofix anchor points for child car seats. The anchor points are easily accessed by quickly removing two caps and slotting the child seat's attachment points between two guides; it makes fitting child seats and swapping them between family cars as painless as possible, increasing both safety and convenience.
A great deal of collaboration between exterior and interior designers has resulted in a significant packaging solution. For instance, row two occupants benefit from stadium seating that's raised 50mm relative to front seat passengers. The result is a cabin that feels more open and inclusive for row two occupants while still providing plenty of headroom for taller than average passengers.

Discovery Sport is available with up to four 12V power points, while as many as six USB charging sockets can be specified for all three rows. This allows multiple electronic devices to be recharged simultaneously.

Two different center console storage solutions are available. The S and SE derivatives provide space for two cups along with a separate roller storage section; HSE and HSE Luxury derivatives have a larger console that includes a sliding armrest and a roller storage section with two removable cup holders located underneath and this space can be separately and quickly re-configured to offer space to securely hold a two liter bottle.

Storage areas have been designed to be as deep and accommodating as possible. The door speaker housings, for instance, not only complement the interior's clean lines and ensure excellent sound quality, they also provide the maximum space for stowage. At 13.8 liters, Discovery Sport's front and rear door housings offer more than double the stowage space of some rival SUVs.

In typical Discovery tradition, a simple but effective convenience hook allows loose items to be secured in the passenger foot well. Row three passengers have a storage shelf, and load-space rails are available to add further versatility.

Discovery Sport customers can choose from two air-conditioning systems: a manual interface is fitted to entry-level models, while dual-zone climate control with an LCD interface for the driver and front seat passenger is also available. For dual-zone systems, the air vents for row two occupants are mounted midway up the B-pillar for more effective cold air distribution. If both dual-zone climate control and 5+2 seating are specified, an independent control unit is available, allowing row three occupants to set their desired temperature and fan speed; row three air vents are also positioned midway up the C-pillar.

Other convenience features include a sensor to detect and automatically clear windscreen misting, and an air quality sensor that switches to recirculation mode should high pollution levels be registered. ECO mode optimizes the air-conditioning system - along with other vehicle settings - for maximum efficiency.

The centerpiece of the cabin is the striking intersection between the bold vertical lines of the center console and the slimmer horizontal elements of the instrument panel. The pronounced center console architecture ensures all controls are grouped logically. Soft-touch rotary controls and buttons set into a gloss-black surround create a tactile user-interface and are easy for the driver to find under the glare of direct sunlight.

All materials used in the Discovery Sport's cabin are of high quality, designed to be premium, not precious. The HSE Luxury, for example, has unique in segment twin-needle stitched leather on the upper reaches of the instrument panel and door surfaces. This creates a premium feel while the vertical spars on the center console are available in a genuine metal finish, heightening luxury without impacting on longevity.

Interior ambience can be further enhanced by subtle and highly configurable mood lighting, controlled via the central 8 inch touch screen.

Drivetrain
Monocoque construction combines a mix of high strength steel, ultra high strength boron steel and lightweight aluminium panels. This ensures a strong, stiff and light base for outstanding dynamic performance and high levels of torsional rigidity. An all new multi-link rear axle heightens agility, increases axle articulation and - together with lightweight aluminium suspension components and carefully calibrated dampers - enables an unrivalled level of compliance no matter what the surface conditions. The new rear axle also reduces interior noise and minimizes intrusion of the rear suspension turrets into the load space; this has proved key in providing excellent load space and 5+2 seating.

At launch, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol is available. All feature stop-start technology, high pressure direct injection, low friction internal components and smart regenerative charging for outstanding performance and economy.

Petrol derivatives use an all alloy Si4 cylinder, 2.0 liter engine with 240 hp and direct fuel injection. This offers six cylinder levels of performance in a compact package that reduces weight and cuts CO2 emissions by up to 20 percent, compared to conventional larger capacity engines with a similar power output.

Engine derivatives can be specified with an advanced ZF 9HP48 nine speed automatic transmission, for peerless refinement, efficiency, driver engagement and off-road capability.

All wheel drive system 
Three choices of drivetrain are available for maximum versatility and customer choice: two wheel drive, permanent four wheel drive or Active Driveline. Active Driveline switches between two and four wheel drive to provide an unrivalled combination of on-road agility, off-road capability and all-round efficiency.

Class leading off-road capability stands at the core of Land Rover DNA. Naturally, Discovery Sport's body geometry has been optimized for even the harshest terrain, with excellent ground clearance, approach, departure and break over angles, and an ability to wade through water to a class-leading depth of 600mm.

Land Rover's Terrain Response® system features on all four wheel drive derivatives, allowing drivers to tailor Discovery Sport's responses to the prevailing conditions. Up to five settings are available: General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, and Sand. Dynamic mode is optionally available and heightens on-road performance and driver feedback.

Discovery Sport's full suite of all terrain technologies includes: 
• Hill Descent Control® (HDC)
• Gradient Release Control® (GRC)
• Wade SensingTM
• Roll Stability Control (RSC)
• Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
• Electronic Traction Control (ETC)
• Engine Drag torque Control (EDC)

Connected and comfortable handling on the road

Many of the innovations that make Discovery Sport unbeatable off-road are equally key to its responsive handling and composure on-road.

Key highlights include:
• All new multi-link rear axle
• Variable-ratio, electric power assisted steering (EPAS) 
• Torque Vectoring by Braking (TVB)
• Nine-speed automatic gearbox with adaptive shift strategy
• MagneRide™ adaptive dampers
• 325mm front disc brakes with new-generation calipers and pads

Advanced Land Rover technologies for ultimate safety and convenience
The new Discovery Sport features cutting-edge technology to maximize both safety and convenience. New developments include everything from an advanced new infotainment system with 8 inch touchscreen to a pedestrian airbag that minimizes the consequences of a collision. Other available driver-assistance technologies include:

• Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
• Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) 
• Park Assist
• Automatic High Beam Assist
• Lane Departure Warning
• Traffic Sign Recognition
• Trailer Stability Assist
• Tow Assist & Tow Hitch Assist 
• Blind-Spot Monitor & Closing Vehicle Sensing
• Reverse Traffic Detection
• HD Surround Camera System
• HDD satellite navigation system
• Automatic headlamps
• Rain sensitive wipers
• Parking sensors

Land Rover "InControl" Infotainment System 
Land Rover's innovative suite of InControl™ technologies puts Discovery Sport at the cutting-edge of in-car connectivity. Developed in conjunction with Bosch SoftTec, InControl Apps enables vehicle optimized smartphone apps to be displayed and controlled with their original look and feel from the vehicle's new 8 inch touchscreen infotainment system.

Owners simply download Land Rover InControlTM Apps to their smartphone and connect it to the vehicle's dedicated USB port to enable compatible apps to function on the Discovery Sport's touchscreen, with new content available every time the apps update.

Land Rover InControl Remote™ allows owners to summon roadside assistance or the emergency services if required, while InControl Secure tracks the vehicle should it be stolen.
Head Up Display (HUD) debuts on the Land Rover Discovery Sport. This advanced laser technology projects key driving data including road speed, gear position and satellite navigation directions onto a compact area of the windscreen in the driver's line of sight. Head Up Display allows the driver to safely access information while keeping their eyes on the road.

Designed and engineered at Land Rover's development center in the UK, Discovery Sport will be produced at the company's award-winning manufacturing facility in Halewood, Liverpool. It goes on sale in early 2015 alongside the existing seven seat Land Rover Discovery in over 170 markets worldwide.

Verdict
After quite a nippy journey around Iceland, it's tough to know why the Land Rover Discovery Sport has not sold well. Although I drove on ice most of the time, the Discovery Sport acted very confidently and proud. Styling is absolutely Land Rover; engine is similar to the Evoque. On first driving impressions, the Discovery Sport is an exceptionally smooth-edged package versus any German rivals.

4.5 stars
One word: multipurpose 
Pros: elegant, 5+2 seats, excellent off-road capabilities, fuel efficient 
Cons: same engine as Evoque
Rivals: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus NX, Volvo XC60

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