The SUV which is love at first sight
There’s been a whole lot of chat about MAFS recently. For the uninitiated, or the more astute among us, that stands for Married at First Sight.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this year’s vexatious series is the action which happened behind the scenes.
While the producers are trying to lure the audience one direction, the truth of what really happened is surfacing simultaneously and it’s dramatically more interesting and saucy.
The whole scenario is somewhat akin to the Land Rover Discovery Sport. This is the model that threw a cat among the prestige pigeons about five years ago.
It’s just been updated, and while it looks the goods from the outside, there are some hidden gems outside of view which make the Disco Sport engaging and alluring. And it’s even better to watch than the trashy reality series.
Land Rover calls the 2020 model an update, but the overhaul is extensive. New architecture that allows for future electronic drive underpins a raft of changes.
Our experience was in the R-Dynamic SE D180, which sits one tier from the top with a retail price of $70,510. Among the basic equipment are 19-inch alloys, power tailgate, satnav, electric adjustable front seats, two-zone climate control with vents in the second row, along with a 10-inch touchscreen connected to a six-speaker sound system that has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
One of the coolest inclusions is an activity key. It looks like a FitBit, but enables the owner to lock their key inside the car and then go off for a surf, run, swim or walk. It locks and unlocks the car by tapping a circle on the rear window.
The Land Rover group (which also encompasses Jaguar) loves an option, and buyers will need to set aside some time to analyse what’s available. Our car had about $6k worth of extras, like heated front seats ($810), wireless phone charger ($120), black exterior pack ($1590) and keyless entry ($900).
Warranty coverage of three years or 100,000km — that’s about standard for any modern prestige vehicle. A service plan covering five years or 102,000km is available for $1950.
Black and white are the only two external colour options which don’t have a price premium. Metallic black, white, silver, red, grey and two blue shades are $1400. Choose “premium metallic” grey, silver or orange and that’s $2020.
Back in 2014 the Discovery Sport was awarded five stars. The criteria has strengthened since then, but it does come with radar cruise control, autonomous emergency braking to help the driver avoid frontal accidents, auto high beam, blind spot assist and traffic sign recognition.
A brilliant function is the optional Clearsight rear view mirror for $551. When you have seven on board or the boot is filled to the roof, the mirror view is replaced by vision from a rear-mounted camera.
Another useful addition was the $410 360-degree camera which makes parking a breeze. A head-up display is another $800.
Classy and straight forward, the Discovery Sport cabin is one of sophistication and simplicity. Combining modern technology with old-school functionality, it takes little time to locate vital operations.
There is quick access to climate control dials, and the primary touchscreen menus be found by scrolling horizontally similar to a smartphone motion.
The driver has a digital display which can be configured in various ways.
Suede-cloth trimmed seats with red stitching are among the best you’ll find and perfect for long journeys. A weekend birthday party saw all seven seats filled — the rearmost pair are best suited to youngsters due to the limited legroom.
There is a massive boot with the optional sixth and seventh seats collapsed into the floor, and when both rear rows were folded we managed to fit in two adult bikes with ample room to spare.
Luckily the Discovery Sport is stunning, as onlookers gain a lengthy look. The four-cylinder diesel is no fire cracker with a zero to 100km/h time of more than 10 seconds.
Pushing more than two tonnes, it makes the name (Sport and Dynamic) a misnomer. Once underway it performs honestly and without fanfare — while being especially quiet on start-up for a diesel. Many would struggle to pick it’s an oil-burner.
Those looking for more shove off the line could opt for the petrol version (183kW) or the HSE diesel which pumps out 177kW/500Nm. Both alternatives have sub-eight second 0-100km/h sprint times.
Body roll is apparent when getting too aggressive during directional changes, although the steering feel is sharp and direct.
Despite being able to wade through water up to 600mm, and having a ride height of 212mm, it doesn’t have the low range capability of its Discovery brethren. There are still various terrain shortcuts available on the dash to make easy work of gravel and some tricky situations.
Among the more frugal fuel users on the market, the official figure is less than six litres of diesel for every 100km but our test returned 8.5.
A full-size spare is also available if you don’t need seven seats.
Heading for BCF is probably as close as I’ll get to roughing it, the Discovery Sport had me at hello in the showroom. It’s gorgeous.
Boasting more capability than prestige rivals, the option of heading off-road is always there. The price is right as long as I don’t spend too much time admiring the options list.
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Doesn’t have the off-road credentials, but is a long wheelbase, seven-seater version of the Tiguan which gets a petrol 162kW 2.0-litre turbo/seven-speed dual-clutch auto/all-wheel drive.
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Also lacks the four-wheel drive prowess, but possesses impressive on-road manners with all-wheel and motivation from a quick 3.0-litre turbo diesel that pumps out 195kW/620Nm. No seven-seat option.
Style and substance comes in spades. Depending on specification, the Discovery Sport markedly less expensive than German rivals, although there are some options which should be standard. This diesel is slow but honest, and when you look this good there’s no harm in hanging around.
AT A GLANCE
LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT SE D180
PRICE $70,510 plus on-roads (undercuts prestige rivals)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 3yr/100,000k m wty (short); 5yr servicing $1950
ENGINE 2.0-litre 132kW/430 turbo diesel (sluggish)
SAFETY Radar cruise control, AEB, lane keep assist, front and rear parking sensor, traffic sign recognition (OK, lots of options should be standard)
THIRST 5.9 litres/100km (8.5 on test)
SPARE Space saver (full-size option)
BOOT 157 litres, 5 seats 750L (very good)