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Driven: Land Rover Discovery Sport selling sight unseen

Seven up: The entire Disco Sport range can be optioned with a third row of seats, one of the very few compacts available with seven seats.

Solid order bank already growing for Land Rover’s all-new Discovery Sport


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8 Apr 2015

UNPRECEDENTED interest in Land Rover’s new baby SUV is good news for new managing director Matthew Wiesner, but he’s not prepared to call the compact seven-seater a sales leader for the brand in Australia just yet.

With the replacement for the Freelander hitting dealers in May, Mr Wiesner, attending his first Land Rover event since taking the reins of Jaguar Land Rover Australia in March, says the company is already holding a raft of orders for the car, despite having no vehicles to display.

“I estimate we’re holding somewhere between 600 and 700 orders already,” Mr Wiesner told journalists at the Discovery Sport’s launch in Canberra this week.

“When our dealer network is already taking 20 to 30 orders a week without having any cars, we can expect to do a bit better than that when the cars land in May.”

Mr Wiesner would not be drawn on a specific sales target for the Discovery Sport, but suggested that its rivals are not limited to the usual suspects.

“Our core competitive set for the Discovery Sport is the (Audi) Q5, you’ve got the (BMW) X3, you’ve got the Volvo XC60… Land Rover is an aspirational brand, though, and we’ve got a great opportunity to start to draw others from some of the Asians brands.

“If you look at some of the higher-spec versions of your Pathfinders, your Santa Fes and the like… they’re seven-seaters, and they’re creeping up into our (price) space.”

Mr Wiesner sees the presence of sister company Range Rover in the compact-SUV space with the mechanically related Evoque as a positive.

“With Evoque at one end and Discovery Sport at the other, we can neatly bookend the segment,” he said. “Looking at what we’re doing, the interest we can create in the compact-SUV sector will be significant.”

The presence of a ‘bargain basement’-spec Discovery Sport – the base TD4 SE manual kicks off the range at $53,300, plus on-roads – will make more sense as the car settles into the market, Mr Wiesner told GoAuto.

“It’s a nice step-in for the range and a nice marketing position to kick things off,” he said. “It’s important to have a (wide) range. As the cycle ages, the first 12 to 24 months is where you sell the higher-spec models, but as time rolls on you need to merchandise things in a way that you do need your starter and entry points down the track.”

Based on the same platform as the Evoque’s, but with a longer body, the Discovery Sport will be offered in both diesel and petrol guise, and can be ordered across the board as a seven-seater.

Land Rover’s base pricing undercuts both BMW’s X3 and Audi’s Q5. BMW’s auto xDrive20i petrol is $60,765, while the diesel is $64,400. Audi’s Q5, meanwhile, lists at $63,600 for its auto 2.0 TFSI and $62,600 for the auto 2.0 TDI.

The $53,300 Discovery Sport SE is only available in one colour (white) and with a six-speed Getrag manual gearbox only. Metallic paint is $1,300, premium metallic colours are an extra $2,600, and the nine-speed auto is $2,500.

The 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel will come in two tunes in SD spec it makes 110kW, while in HD spec it puts out 140kW. Both engines have the same torque figure of 420Nm, and both engines return a fuel economy number of 6.1 litres/100 kilometres. The current diesel is set to be replaced in 2016 by a new engine that falls under JLR’s Ingenium family of fuel-efficient powertrains.

Both diesel powerplants can be optioned with a six-speed manual or a new ZF nine-speed auto gearbox that is shared with the Evoque.

The single petrol engine, known as the Si4 SE, is based on the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that Ford uses for the Falcon EcoBoost and Focus ST, among others. It’s tuned to make 177kW and 340Nm of torque, and is only available with a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Its fuel economy figure is listed as 8.1L/100km.

All Discovery Sports operate as full-time 4WDs and are fitted with centre differentials. A $1620 option known as Active Driveline allows the rear axle to be decoupled to improve fuel economy.

Both drivetrains are controlled via Land Rover’s Terrain Response System to work in sand, dirt, snow, mud, ruts and gravel. The system can change parameters in the car’s engine, steering, gearbox, braking and traction/stability control systems according to the ground it is covering.

New to the Discovery Sport is a completely reworked multi-link rear end that has allowed Land Rover to equip the SUV with a third-row pair of seats. The front suspension, meanwhile, is equipped with hydraulic rebound stops at the tops of each strut.

The Discovery Sport – built in Land Rover’s Halewood factory in the United Kingdom – will be available locally in three grades SE, HSE, and HSE Luxury.

The SE grade features tilt-and-slide rear seats, autonomous emergency braking, a power tailgate, reversing camera, satellite navigation, electric front seats, a smart key, leather seats, an eight-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth functionality and streaming, dual-zone climate control, a ten-speaker stereo system and 18-inch alloys as standard.

There are two 12v charging ports and five five-volt USB ports (two in the second row), face-level vents in all three seat rows, auto wipers and lights, and a full suite of active and passive safety electronics, including lane-departure warning, Terrain Response with up to five selectable drive modes, hill start and retuned hill descent modes and trailer stability control.

There are also seven airbags (dual front, side, curtain and driver’s knee), as well as a bonnet airbag for pedestrians. The EuroNCAP safety program has rated the Discovery Sport as a five-star car.

The HSE adds 19-inch alloys, auto high-beam assist, Xenon headlights with DRLs, side mirrors with memory function, vented front seats, customisable interior lighting and an 11-speaker stereo system.

The single HSE Luxury model scores a set of bespoke 19s, hard-disk sat-nav, Windsor leather upholstery, illuminated alloy sill plates and a 17-speaker Meridian stereo system.

All can be specced with a third row of seats for $1,990, although the full-size spare needs to be replaced with a space-saver to facilitate the process. The extra row of seats also means that options like Wade Sensors, Surround Camera, Adaptive Dynamic dampers, Active Driveline and Blind Spot Monitoring cannot be fitted.

The list of options includes wheels up to 20 inches in diameter, an Adaptive Dynamics suite with MagneRide adjustable dampers, a full-length panoramic sunroof, tablet holders for front headrests, contrasting-colour roof panels, heated rear seats, TV and rear-seat entertainment systems.

Land Rover Discovery Sport pricing*
TD4 SE$53,300
TD4 SE (a)$55,800
SD4 SE$56,500
SD4 SE (a)$59,000
TD4 HSE$57,900
TD4 HSE (a)$60,400
SI4 SE (a)$59,000
SD4 HSE$61,100
SD4 HSE (a)$63,600
SD4 HSE Luxury$66,500
SD4 HSE Luxury (a)$69,000
*Excludes on-road costs.

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