BUYERS GUIDE - SOFT-ROADERS
Land Rover Discovery Sport was the first member of the new Discovery family and features optional 5+2 seating in a footprint no larger than that of the previous Freelander 2. Mild hybrid versions were announced in 2020.
The Discovery Sport was built on a modified Freelander 2/Range Rover Evoque platform, with a new low-profile, multi-link rear axle that provided optional folding-seat space behind the second row seats.
The standard kit included an eight-inch touch screen infotainment system and tilt-and-slide second-row seating. Pricing at launch ranged from $53,000 to $69,000.
Innovative storage was integrated into the cabin and up to four 12V power points and six USB charging sockets could be specified for all three rows of seating.
Safety inclusions were headed by a first-in-class pedestrian airbag and autonomous emergency braking in a body shell that used ultra-high-strength steel and lightweight aluminium.
Approach, departure and breakover angles were 25, 31 and 21 degrees respectively, and Terrain Response technology, with the ability to wade to 600mm combined to make the Discovery Sport a worthy successor to the capable Freelander.
OTA’s testing showed that the Freelander was one of the best off-road performers of all the soft-roaders in the Australian market and the Disco Sport maintained that position.
The Disco Sport’s coil-spring front suspension had steel front lower control arms with aluminium knuckles and the suspension struts were fitted with hydraulic rebound stops. The rear suspension was mounted on an optimised steel subframe and had class-leading 340mm wheel travel.
Adaptive Dynamics MagneRide dampers were available on SD4 and Si4 five-seat derivatives.
Carrying over from the Freelander were upgraded Freelander four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. Both the all-alloy Si4 2.0-litre petrol engine and the 2.2-litre turbodiesel had stop-start technology, high-pressure direct injection and regenerative charging.
Nine-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions were available behind the 2.2-litre diesel, with TD4 (110kW/400Nm) or SD4 (140kW/420Nm) outputs.
The Si4 2.0-litre petrol engine coupled to the nine-speed automatic transmission as standard.
Discovery Sport was being produced at Land Rover’s manufacturing facility at Halewood, Liverpool.
The two-litre, aluminium block and head, four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine replaced the 2.2-litre, cast-iron-block DW12 engine, which was 24kg heavier.
The Ingenium engine had variable camshaft timing on the exhaust side of the head, roller bearing camshafts and twin balance shafts.
The engine management computer saved energy by varying the amount of lubricant delivered by the oil pumps to meet demand. Similarly, the water pumps were computer-controlled and adjust coolant flow through the engine depending on temperature, vehicle speed and driving conditions.
In its Td4 150 guise the Ingenium engine made 110kW and 380Nm, and the Td4 180 variant had 132kW and 430Nm.
A water-cooled intercooler replaced the less-efficient air-to-air intercooler used by most makers.
Service intervals for the Ingenium diesel were 34,000km or two years.
The Ingenium engine was matched to a nine-speed ZF automatic transmission and fitted with steering column-mounted paddle shifters.
Land Rover’s Service Plans covered the vehicle for five years or 100,000km and started at $1210 for diesels and $1460 for the petrol.
The 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport was the car that never forgot, thanks to the world-first integration of Tile’s advanced tracking app. The app used Tile tags – tiny Bluetooth trackers – that could be attached to important items and used to track their whereabouts using smartphone technology.
The Tile smartphone app was compatible with both Android and Apple platforms and the number of items that could be tracked was limitless.
The 2017MY Discovery Sport also featured operational refinements, with Land Rover’s new InControl Touch Pro infotainment system making its debut in the Td4 180 HSE Luxury model alongside the latest Meridian digital surround-sound system.
Land Rover ramped-up safety with Lane Keep Assist that used the car’s forward-facing camera to find lane markings and keep the car between them.
Lane Keep Assist also included Driver Condition Monitoring, using steering angle data to monitor and analyse driver steering behaviour. Using that data and checking it against other inputs such as speed, time and driver reactions, it calculated a tiredness index and, if necessary, flashed a display suggesting the driver take a break.
Low Traction Launch was added as well. This manually-selectable driving mode gave the Discovery Sport optimised lift-off on low friction surfaces. Drivers dialled-in the surface type (snow, wet grass or loose gravel, for example) and the electronics chose the appropriate torque load needed for the best wheelspin-free take-off.
The 2021 Discovery Sport was launched with next-generation, mild-hybrid Ingenium diesel engines and Pivi and Pivi Pro infotainment.
Available in two power outputs – the D165 (163PS/120kW) and D200 (204PS/150kW) – diesels had Land Rover’s latest mild- hybrid (MHEV) technology, with a battery to store energy that would otherwise be lost under deceleration.
The result was said to be smoother stop-start operation and optimised fuel economy, but not at the level achieved by the company’s plug-in hybrid models.
Land Rover’s state-of-the-art Pivi infotainment was said to offer instant start-up and software updates via the vehicle’s embedded data connection at no cost, ensuring customers always have the latest maps, apps and vehicle features without having to visit a retailer.
Spotify was integrated in the infotainment menu and Bluetooth connectivity connected two phones at once. There’s also wireless device charging with signal-boosting option.
A second- generation Activity Key was also available, allowing customers to unlock, lock or even start the vehicle just by being nearby – with no need for a traditional key fob.
A Cabin Air Filtration system was added, to filter out fine particulate matter often found in cities and high-traffic areas, and was activated by touch-screen.
Advanced Driver Assistance featured a Rear Traffic Monitor with automatic braking and a Rear Collision Monitor used radars to monitor the vehicle’s rear and prime the Discovery Sport to reduce the severity of an impact for the occupants.
A 3D Surround Camera lets the driver see what’s happening around the vehicle at speeds of up to 30km/h.
The Discovery Sport was available to order in August 2020. The Australian line-up for the 21MY Discovery Sport consisted of: R-Dynamic S P200 – $65,700; R-Dynamic S D165 – $68,000; R-Dynamic SE P250 – $74,076; R-Dynamic SE D200 – $75,610 and R-Dynamic HSE P250 – $78,432.
On and off road
Our 2016 test vehicle wasn’t the one we originally requested, but some incompetent magazine people had bogged the vehicle we were supposed to get and then damaged it when extracting it.
As a result, we were given a top-shelf HSE version, complete with every available option and 19-inch wheels. Our preference was a lower-spec model, fitted with 17-inchers.
However, the up-spec model proved much more capable off road than we expected.
On road, the Discovery Sport’s 140kW diesel and nine-speed auto box provided smooth, seamless power and torque. The machine is rated to tow 2.2 tonnes and should do it with ease.
Ride and handling were a cut above the outgoing Freelander 2’s levels and electronically-assisted traction on loose surfaces was excellent.
Electric power steering was brilliant and we liked the lane-change warning that vibrated the steering wheel if lane marking was transgressed, without prior blinker activation.
The seats and steering column multi-adjusted, so getting comfortable was easy. In-cabin noise was low, although the engine’s diesel rattle was noticeable from the outside at idle revs.
The Disco Sport is right at the top of the SUV world in terms of on-road behaviour.
We expected excellent formed-surface behaviour from the Disco Sport, but we were also pleasantly surprised by its off-road capability, even on road-oriented wheels and tyres. It went where most owners won’t dare venture.
Fuel consumption on-road at half load averaged an excellent 7.0L/100km.
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Land Rover Freelander
Land Rover freshened up the Freelander 2 for 2013, with a host of powertrain, interior comfort and convenience items. Class-leading proportions and clearance
were left alone, fortunately.
A new 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine joined the Freelander 2 line-up, replacing the Si6 engine. Powering the
Freelander 2 GTDi, the new direct injection, turbocharged Si4 engine delivered 177kW, with an increase of seven percent in torque to 340Nm.
The aluminium block and head engine was 40kg lighter than the previous six-cylinder and service intervals were increased from 24,000km to 26,000km.
Mechanically, the Si4 GTDi was virtually identical to the Evoque version.
The Si4 was paired with an Aisin AWF21 six-speed automatic transmission with full-time four-wheel drive and a Haldex interaxle differential. The transmission
was redesigned with advanced neutral logic control to reduce drag when the vehicle was stationary. Revised clutches and the introduction of low viscosity
oil also improved efficiency, while adaptive shifting was available in both normal and sport modes. Terrain Response gave sure-footed traction and
Freelander buyers could choose between two diesel engines: a 2.2-litre 110kW TD4 and 140kW SD4. For extra economy, the 2.2-litre 110kW TD4 entry model
was fitted with a six-speed manual transmission and Stop/Start,
All Freelanders were equipped with Land Rover’s Intelligent Power System Management (IPSM)
which included Smart Regenerative Charging. This feature ensured that, where possible, the alternator charged the battery as the vehicle was decelerating,
recovering kinetic energy rather than consuming fuel.
TD4, SD4 and Si4 were equipped with the same four-wheel drive system. The system responded to changes in grip in 150 milliseconds to adjust torque
between front and rear axles. Terrain Response optimised the electronic systems for conditions and there were four settings: General Driving, Grass-Gravel-Snow,
Mud and Ruts and Sand. Gradient Release control ensured smooth hill starts both when ascending and descending.
The Freelander 2 had outstanding body stiffness, Land Rover claimed. A structural undertray on the front subframe contributed to this, increasing
steering precision and four-point engine mounting aided engine stability. A full range of stability systems provided a safety net for the
occupants: Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Traction Control (ETC), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Cornering Brake Control
(CBC), Emergency Brake Assist (EBA), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) and Roll Stability Control (RSC).
Interior equipment included new features: a new centre console, seven-inch colour touch-screen with enhanced audio systems from Meridian, seven-day timed
climate system and satellite navigation.
Rear view camera capability was also introduced in 2012. The view from the back of the vehicle was displayed on the
Infotainment screen with dynamic lines representing the boundaries of the vehicle and your predicted path as you reversed. The system also incorporated
‘Hitch Assist’, a graphic superimposed on the camera showing the position of the tow ball.
Passive start replaced key dock and there was an electric parking brake which adjusted brake force according to the slope the vehicle was parked on. The
electric parking brake could still be used as an emergency brake, automatically selecting the most stable braking method by employing skid prevention
techniques. An additional safety feature ensured the brake could not be released unless the driving seat was occupied.
‘Say What You See’ – a voice activation system with visual prompts – and rear view camera capability were also new to the Freelander 2.
Equipped with AM/FM tuners the music players supported CD, DVD, Virtual CD, iPod and USB. There was also a 3.5mm aux jack input for music players
and Bluetooth audio streaming to any supporting devices, including headphones. The virtual CD comprised a hard drive which could store the equivalent
of up to 10 Audio CDs, identifiable using Gracenote.
With this generation of Freelander 2, models were simply differentiated by trim level and not by powertrain specification. Entry level to the range
was the Freelander TD4 manual with cloth seats as standard. The SE was enhanced with distinguishing detail features such as a gloss black grille surround
and came with full leather and the Meridian sound system including rear camera. Top of the range was the HSE with electric 6/4 way grained leather
seats and wood interior as standard. There was the option of 19-inch Diamond Turned wheels and Grand Black Lacquer finisher and also Windsor leather
seats 8/6 way with premium carpet mats.
The Freelander 2 earned a 5 star Euro NCAP award with seven airbags in total, including two curtain, two front, two thorax and a driver’s knee bag.
In September 2014 Land Rover announced the Freelander replacement.
On and off road
Our Freelander 2 test vehicle was a 140kW diesel SE automatic-transmission model, fitted
with optional nav system for a RRP just under 60 grand. That’s a lot of money for a relatively small softroader, but the Freelander 2 is no ordinary
softroader, as we found out on our off-road course.
No non-low-range vehicle we’ve tested has climbed where the Freelander went.
The Freelander’s relatively short-travel suspension made progress somewhat jerky, but the Terrain Response and traction control systems minimised wheelspin
and up the rocky slope it went.
The secret of the Freelander’s off-road ability is its dimensions: short front and rear ovehangs, and good belly clearance. It didn’t scrape a rock on
our steep climb, where other softroaders we’ve aimed up this slope smacked their long front overhangs on rock shelves and that was the end of that.
On road the wheel-in-each-corner Freelander was an excellent performer, with brisk aceleration, sweet shifts and flat,
stable handling. Initially we felt the steering was too light, until we dropped tyre pressures from 46psi to a more sensible 32psi.
Like all sensible softroaders the Freelander was fitted with a proper spare wheel and tyre.
Interior space couldn’t match what was available in this market for the same money, or less, but it was a comfortable four-up tourer, with the ability
to squeeze in a fifth at times. Comfort was very good, with climate control and the sound system was classy.
We didn’t get a towbar-equipped test vehicle, but the proportions and grunt of the Freelander should see it tow two tonnes with ease.
Economy on our mixed on and off road test worked out at 8.4L/100km, which wasn’t bad.