The 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport has been put through its paces in our previous editions, but now we had the chance to really stretch its legs. An extended weekend meant that there was obviously scope for a long drive. It had been a while since I drove to Oman, and there is always a sense of peace and relaxation when you think about Oman. It is a great destination to unwind from the Dubai hustle and bustle.
The new Discovery Sport was a significant upgrade from the ageing LR2 model. The car shares its design lingo with its cousin, the Evoque. Even though it's not as razor sharp, the new Disco looks chic and up-to-date. I was driving the Discovery Sport SE painted in a crisp shade of white. The new color helps to show off the curves and contours of the new Disco Sport, but since it looks so clean it would really hurt my heart to see even the lightest speck of mud on it. Sporting the familiar 2.0-liter four-pot turbocharged petrol engine, which was fitted on the previous LR2, the engine develops a modest 235 horsepower and drives all four wheels through a new nine-speed transmission. The combo looks good enough for a relaxing drive and I was looking for an early start to avoid all the crazy sunlight which would seep through the Disco's plain windows. At times like this you feel that window tint film was the next best discovery after the discovery of the wheel!
I called up a friend who was also in need of a break, and I was good to go. With just my friend and I in the car, there was enough space for three more adults and two kids. The third row of seats on the new Disco Sport will be one of its major selling points I would guess (the third row is just for kids, mind you).
With a full tank of fuel and the destination set on the eight-inch touchscreen navigation system, we made a fresh and spirited start. The Disco Sport is not a scorcher exactly, but I would prefer a sober car for a long drive rather than a high performance missile. The nine-speed transmission helps in quick acceleration and fuel efficiency, but there are certain points where the transmission takes two seconds extra to decide on a ratio to shift into. It proves to be a spoiler at certain quick acceleration sequences, and as well we encountered a certain jerkiness in the initial ratios.
The route from Dubai to Oman is a great driving road, with a good mix of straights and twisties. One of the best things about this drive is that your surroundings become more and more picturesque throughout the journey. You get to see mountainous landscapes, a build up in greenery, and clear skies. Scenery absorbing stops were quite usual along the route and we were no exception – until my passenger decided to fall asleep. The Disco Sport absorbs the miles without a sweat.
The new interiors of the Disco Sport are a great place to spend time, and it is on long drives like these that you get to know how well the interiors of a car are made. I was having a pretty good time in the driver's seat with a well supported seat and a good airy space around me. The roofline of the Disco Sport does not drop as insanely as in the Evoque. This helps the Disco have that extra row of seats and lends an airy feel to the cabin. Cramped interiors are the last place you want to be on a long drive with your friend. In the meantime, my friend was living a king-sized life with the passenger seat fully reclined and napping throughout the session.
The Disco Sport feels planted and solid at 130 to 140 km/h constant straights with well damped interiors keeping all the noise and vibration at bay. Steering has a good weighted feel, which gives you the confidence to keep going hard at the throttle while taking your time to absorb the scenery. Occasional rough patches of road did not unsettle the Disco at any point and the suspension did its job of keeping the car under control. This ensured that my passenger's sleep was never disturbed and the journey continued at full steam. After a quick stop at the border for visa procedure, a quick bite, fuel refill and a refill of drinkables and eatables, we were ready for the final leg of the trip. Towards Muscat, the road is lined with various farms and forms of greenery that refresh your mind in an instant. Once in Muscat, you can see well-maintained cultural and historical structures along the road, as well as at all important intersections. I would say that it feels very Sharjah-ish. I thought of stopping at a couple of places, but my sincere co-driver was so engrossed in sleep that I could not afford to stop the car anywhere but our final destination.
We reached Muscat and found our friend's apartment where we would spend the weekend. A much needed rest for ourselves and the Disco Sport. Towards evening, we decided to have a quick tour of the city and headed towards the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. Surprisingly, there was no crazy rush as expected during a long weekend. Finished in exquisite white sandstone, the majestic Grand Mosque was built in 2001 and boasts of having the world's second largest hand-woven carpet. Our white Disco Sport blended in with the huge white structures of the Grand Mosque, and our wish for a peaceful weekend to unwind was going just right. Venturing out on UAE city roads on a weekend is nothing short of a nightmare, while it feels so easy in Muscat. Fewer vehicles, less traffic, more peace of mind!
After some nice Arabic food and Shisha, we decided to call it a day. The next day we planned to drive around some beaches and give the Disco Sport its share of off-road diet. Although not too powerful or rugged, the Disco Sport carries over its Discovery DNA in all its glory. A mild bit of mountain terrain was handled by the Disco with aplomb. In urban landscape the Disco Sport is amazingly easy to drive around, thanks to the compact dimensions and usable engine power. Away from all the city madness, Muscat continues to amaze us with its relaxed and easy weekend life.
Our drive back to Dubai was planned for the next morning and we pushed off after breakfast. The Disco Sport was ever willing for the trip as we were, and all that was needed was a fuel refill. The drive back took us a bit more time as we did stop at quite a few places to have a look at farms and monuments. Plantain farms seem to be popular and it is always amazing to see such endeavours in a desert area. We had an unusually long stop at the border this time and decided to pick up the pace to get back to Dubai. The Disco stayed well with us, confidently handling all the twisting roads and quick overtaking maneuvers effortlessly. We reached Dubai before evening and headed straight to the car wash, gave the Disco a much needed wash – bringing all the white glory back to life.
The Disco Sport performed well throughout our trip. We got a decent mixed fuel efficiency figure of 11.1 L/ 100 km. The LR2 upgrade is a worthy one and we hope that the Discovery Sport generates big sales numbers for Land Rover.