We push both the 2017 Discovery and Discovery Sport to their limits to see exactly why they are the best offroading SUV’s out there.
Off- Roading capabilities
This is the part where we start listing things that make this car excel in all categories. With ground clearance of 11.1 inches and a wading depth of 35.4 inches and 500mm wheel articulation, what’s not to love. It has a tow rating of 8201 pounds and Advanced Tow Assist, which automatically steers the SUV when backing up with a trailer. The aluminium space frame has helped cut down about 20% weight from the large SUV, or around 480kg, compared to the old one. Optional air suspensions make the ride quality unbelievably smooth especially off-road. The steering system is also well weighted with great feedback.
There are sensors all around and you can also option up auto- parking although the rear-view camera does more then a good job. An additional off-road package, includes an electrically locking rear differential and All Terrain Progress Control (a sort of off-road cruise control).
The Engine Bit
Engine variations include a turbocharged and intercooled 24-valve 3.0-liter diesel V-6, capable of 254 hp, and 443 lb-ft; and a supercharged and 24-valve 3.0-liter V-6, bringing you 340 hp, and 332 lb-ft. The disco also claims a time of 6 - 7.7 seconds on a Zero to 60 mph and a top speed of 130 mph. But let’s be serious if your looking for speed, you’re not going to buy an off-roading god, leave that for the little fancy cars.
The Discovery now upgrades its shell to all aluminium construction, in fact 85% of the body is made of the alloy - which means super weight savings and a much stiffer shell. And although it still weighs 2.1 tonnes, its certainly feels a lot sprightlier while driving. There’s magnesium in the nose, higher-strength aluminium in key safety zones and steel subframes; Land Rover says the latter means more load space and a better centre of gravity. Even the tailgate is a one-piece composite, a departure from the old two-piece unit.
The first thing you’ll notice about the new Discovery is the design. Land Rover have started to bring the family together in terms of looks, giving it the rounder, bouncier look of the Discovery Sport. Yes, it is a huge departure from its predecessor’s more rugged looks, but it’s meant to appeal to a much wider audience, while the success of the Discovery Sport has proven that Land Rover’s utilitarian designs of old are perhaps best left to the next-generation Defender.
There are 21 stowage options in the cabin (45L of volume), so, for example, you can fit and store four iPads in the centre console and the infotainment system pops open with a small storage area hidden behind.
There are up to nine USB ports available across all three rows for the seven-seater variants.
The Discovery is an actual seven-seater and not a 5+2 on demand. There are also five ISOFIX points, this means you can place your child seats anywhere. The stadium-style seating is a plus, giving rear passengers a better view out of the vehicle.
Land Rover says the automatically powered seats can be positioned in 21 different ways with both the second and third row seats folding flat, and there is a massive 2500L of volume in the boot.
All models come with the brand’s InControl media screen, measuring 8.0 inches in the S and SE while the HSE, HSE Luxury and First Edition have the 10.0-inch screen. The screen can be used for navigation, media playback, apps and even allows you to control the seat functions. You can also do all this remotely using Land Rover’s iPhone app, which can further unlock and lock the Disco or even force it to beep and flash its headlights if you lose it in a car park.
The Discovery Sport
The Discovery Sport’s powertrain also includes Land Rover’s All Terrain Progress Control
(a low-speed, off-road cruise control), hill descent control and the driver-adjustable Terrain Response system. This technology has four settings (general, grass/gravel/
snow, mud/ruts and sand) that adapt accelerator and steering response, gear selection, centre differential engagement and braking/stability control systems to achieve the best performance in a variety of difficult driving situations. Unlike other Land Rovers, there are no locking differentials, low-range gearing or adjustable suspension height.
The Engine Bit
It’s a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 240 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive, a nine-speed automatic transmission and an automatic engine stop-start system are standard. The optional Active Driveline allows for the all-wheel-drive system to switch between front - and all-wheel drive to maximize fuel economy and all-surface traction. And goes zero to 60 mph in about 7.7 seconds.
A huge 10.2in HD touchscreen acts like a smartphone, with swiping and pinching actions encouraged.
A sharp new graphic interface straight from the Jaguar F-Pace brings the Disco Sport right up to date, and combined with a solid state hard drive, it all works super quickly, making use of the extra-wide screen. The driver’s display, in-between the dials, also gets a makeover, making it easier to get at the essential information.
In a world first there’s also a very clever Bluetooth tracking app, ‘Tile’. It works by you attaching tiny tags to anything you don’t want to forget. When you fire up the car, it’ll let you know what you’ve forgotten, and even where you’ve left the items.
There are more safety features than ever, including something called the Driver
Condition monitor. If you show any signs of nodding off, there’ll be a series of visual and audible warnings.
A separate Driver Assist Plus Package includes automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, lane-departure warning, and traffic sign recognition.
A new feature called Intelligent Speed Limiter, which builds off the Automatic Speed Limiter the company has offered for years, works with traffic sign recognition and restricts the Disco to whatever the sign said.
An Intelligent Dynamics Pack ($1700) borrowed from the Range Rover Evoque includes adaptive magnetic dampers
and sport-tuned steering and throttle response when the terrain switch is set to Dynamic Mode.
Buyers now get a new windshield that reflects infrared rays, a cabin air-quality sensor, as well as a few new ways to bling it up, with a Graphite pack, and four shiny new colours: silver, grey, black and, warm grey. As before, standard equipment includes partial-leather eight-way power front seats, push-button start, ambient lighting, 18-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, a 10-speaker stereo, and an eight-inch touchscreen. There are a lot more things then that but we decided to put in the ones that matter most.
What we have here are two family-friendly SUV’s, that aren’t afraid to get dirty on road or off-road. Both with incredibly spacious cabin’s, and all the technological advances we’ve longed to see in the Disco Range. So how do you decide which one to go for? Well really it comes down to a question of how much you want to spend, and for what purpose you will be using the car. If your looking for something small and nifty, for the school run, and the occasional weekend in the desert, then the Discovery sport with the small starting price tag of BHD 21,800 is the car for you.
However, if you are of the mind-set that bigger is better, and you need something that you can really throw about off-road, then we suggest you go for the slightly higher starting price tag of the new Discovery at BHD 29,950. Think of it this way, its almost a Range Rover with a different body shell. In retrospect, considering what you are getting for your money, both seem like a steal.
© COPYRIGHT ARABIA MOTORS JUNE 2017