Parked next to the Range Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport, the completely redesigned, new generation Disco Sport looks polished and hewn from the same mould.
It bears the Land Rover emblem though and not the premium Range Rover monogram and that means the focus here is on utility more than pampering its occupants with acres of real wood and massaging thrones. Yet, even in its austere form, this is an SUV that instantly manages to look more stylish than its immediate German rivals, the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5. The spot-on proportions that the design team cracked with the Evoque can be seen here, but on a different body style. It has grown both in wheelbase and length compared to its predecessor and also has a lot of creature comforts that were missing from the earlier generation.
New and much improved
The TD4 we were driving is powered by a 2.2lt diesel motor that churns out 147bhp and is mated to the new 9-speed transmission that we first saw on the Evoque a few months back. From behind the wheel, there is nothing to suggest any lack of power in normal driving situations.
Sure, put your foot down and it takes a couple of seconds for the engine to wake up and surge forward but if you’re not always driving to the emergency room, you won’t have any reason to complain.
What you will notice is a heightened sense of occasion to the new cabin. The rising gear selector knob, the 8in touchscreen infotainment system and the chunky switchgear all remind you that you’re very much in a JLR product. The newly designed system now has bigger virtual buttons that make it easier to operate while driving but the graphics and interface still can’t compete with the best that Germany has to offer.
You do get all the party tricks, including parking assist and makes you feel like you’ve got your moneys worth.
The front seats are ergonomic and extremely comfortable over long journeys. It’s even available in two configurations - a true five seater or a 5+2 option that puts two kid seats at the back at the expense of a full-size spare tyre.
This comes at a cost obviously but the seats are actually useable so if you intend to take joint family trips, give this a look.
The suspension is tuned for comfort as well, soaking up bumps and unevenness from the road without fatiguing the driver. This does have a minor fallout in terms of handling but then again, this isn’t a vehicle to be hustled around on a race track. The Terrain Response System has been included too with settings for snow, gravel, wet and normal so you’ll be as good as a passenger in challenging conditions.
The Disco Sport will sort you out most of the times but it doesn’t have the diff locks of the more expensive models so you better not get too adventurous with your off-road paths.
While on our drive to the Imagica theme park which included a healthy mix of open motorways and tight switchbacks that finally lead up to the main entrance, the Land Rover never once missed a beat, always staying entertaining, if not outright thrilling. The steering response is accurate and never lets you feel the actual size of the car while the paddle shifts come in handy when you want to drown down a few cogs for an overtaking sprint. The 9-speed transmission does its job efficiently and really extends the driving range of this SUV.
The entire round trip of 300 odd kms barely affected the fuel gauge and it was still indicating more than half a tank on our return. Regardless of how much you’ve spent on the purchase of the vehicle, it’s the little rewards that make you smile!
Off the beaten path
Of course, this being a classic Land Rover, it’s real worth will be appreciated when and if you plan to use its 600mm wading depth and the almost unbelievable angles of approach and departure. For most users, it is obviously too much of a good thing but this prowess makes its presence felt even under extreme urban conditions where you need to park over a footpath at odd hours and charge through the flooded Mumbai roads in the peak of the monsoon season.
No matter what the conditions outside, this is a car that makes you feel safe and all-conquering inside. Isn’t that what a real SUV is ought to make you feel like anyway? So, good job Land Rover!
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The three trim variants on offer split the equipment list and our HSE test car was the mid-end version that gets a panoramic sunroof, xenon headlamps, sliding and reclining rear seats, parking aids, two-zone climate control and a 10-speaker audio system. Cough up for the HSE Luxury and your kids will be treated to rear-seat entertainment screens, 17-speaker Meridian audio and adaptive suspension for everyone to praise daddy’s driving.
While the starting price is ₹46.10 lacs (Ex-showroom, Mumbai), you could spend considerably more depending on the variant and options but in any guise, it remains a capable car that is perfectly suited for urban warfare. It could be the first utility vehicle with real panache while bearing the DNA of a true workhorse, thus making it the best of both worlds.