Thursday, 20 September 2018

New Discovery is on the right track

THE car’s computer was polite but firm: please pair (connect) your mobile telephone to the system.

THE car’s computer was polite but firm: please pair (connect) your mobile telephone to the system.

I am a sucker for good manners, so I did as I was told. And lo, within seconds the sweet soul music of Marvin Gaye filled the cabin.

Appropriately, it was the sublime Lucky, Lucky Me. And I have to say I felt lucky this week behind the wheel of the new Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE Luxury.

The clue is in that final word: luxury. For real luxury is the name of the game these days at Jaguar Land Rover.

There was a final hurrah last week for one of the company’s founding stalwarts — the Land Rover Defender, a vehicle launched in 1948.



But as the last Defender rolled off the Solihull production line I felt it was not just the end of an era but also a sign of a new one that has been going on for some time at JLR.

Diehard Defender fans will be holding their breath at the thought of a new model bearing the hallowed badge. What will it be like? Will it bear any relation to the much-loved one that has passed?

While those fans ponder such questions (a new Defender should emerge in a few years) you can be sure that any new 4x4 will have global appeal.

Not necessarily the go-anywhere utility attraction of the old one that began its life down on the farm, but a “luxury” Defender? Watch this space.

For some time now JLR has been exploiting this desire for luxury worldwide. The ubiquitous Range Rover, and the Evoque, those excellent new Jaguar saloons — the aim of these much-improved models is to consolidate this historically British marque’s global appeal. Part of that ethos is to emphasise the luxury component of these cars.

And now comes the new Discovery. The former Discovery was, to my mind, in recent years big, blocky and a tad cumbersome. Now owned by the giant Tata Group, JLR’s 2016 version is a fusion between the old Discovery and the Freelander (which it replaces).

What pops out the end of the new Discovery production line is a vehicle that emanates prestige motoring with a bite.

The strength of that bite is that while the new Discovery’s occupants may be swaddled in comfort, it is still a go-anywhere vehicle. The feeling of its overall strength and sense of purpose is apparent from the moment you sit in the driver’s seat.

There is nothing really new about this combination of super luxurious internal comfort and rugged outside performance. Years ago I drove a top-of-the-range Range Rover at the Solihull plant’s Jungle Track — an off-roader test area. We were up to our doorsills in muck and water but inside amongst the sumptuous leather and high-gloss wood veneer we were cosily at ease.

So this week’s test car — the new Discovery Sport HSE Luxury — had a smart body that comprised luxuries including Windsor Leather upholstery, HSE Luxury badging, heated leather steering wheel, panoramic roof, a brilliant £2,500 Entertainment Pack with Land Rover Audio-11 speakers and power memory seats.

This was all balanced nicely on 20in alloy wheels that for their forged might and fortitude would draw the admiration of Thor, the god of thunder. Outside, the car was turned out stylishly in Phoenix Orange with Santorini Black Contrast Roof (extra at £500). It may be my imagination that renders this car far superior to the old Discovery.

During the test time I noticed an old Discovery 4 in a car park that stood head and shoulders above the new Discovery.

But in this case, I did not think taller was better. The new Discovery is sleeker, easier on the eye, and well, yes, it is to my mind more new “Land Rover”. And it drives very well. The 2.0 TD4 turbodiesel engine has plenty of grunt and go in sport mode, if you think it necessary.

So, I think JLR is on the right track with this new Discovery. It may be that like the Freelander some find it a tad conservatively turned out, with its air of solidity and absolute comfort. But I liked it very much.



Discovery factfile

Land Rover Discovery Sport 16MY (Automatic) HSE Luxury

Price as tested  (including options): £47,975

Colour: Phoenix Orange, Ebony Interior with Windsor Leather

20in Alloy Stormer Sparkle Silver (B) wheels

Features include:

1st Row — 2 x USB with Charging — located on Centre Console

Row 3 Climate Control — Chiller Unit

DAB Radio

Land Rover Audio-11 Speakers

Touch Screen Navigation System

InControl Apps

Tyre Repair System

Optional features:

Entertainment Pack — £2,500

InControl Connect — £650

Adaptive Xenon  Headlamps — £375

Electric Deployable Towbar — £950

Santorini Black  Contrast Roof — £500



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