Gone are the days where only rugged explorers drove rough and tumble Land Rovers. Today, the Land Rover badge is to cars what Rolex is to watches – premium. With handsome good looks and superior off-road capabilities, the Discovery Sport offers the best of both worlds.
By Anton Pretorius
I remember my first encounter with a Land Rover. I was 8-years old, glued to the television, watching Her Royal Highness, the Queen of England, perched regally atop her Land Rover Defender, parading the streets and waving at the masses.
To this day, Land Rover is still the Queen’s favourite set of wheels. I know this, because I asked her in a letter that I sent to Buckingham Palace once. Her royal household promptly replied, confirming what I suspected all along. I was fascinated – wondering what would make the Landy special enough for royalty to choose it over a Bentley or a Rolls Royce?
Twenty-four years later and my love affair with Land Rover continues. I’ve traversed sub-Saharan Africa in a Freelander; I’ve conquered a near-vertical dune in Namibia with a Defender; I’ve crossed the historic Sani Pass in a 1950s Series model and I’ve driven from Marrakech to Fez in a Range Rover.
But why would noble queens and other famous personalities find Land Rover – a vehicle that’s so glaringly utilitarian – appealing? That’s when it hit me. This iconic brand simply oozes adventure. While the Defender has gracefully retired from the production line last year, the latest offerings from Land Rover still retain that characteristic ‘Adventure DNA.’
The unassuming Discovery Sport is perfectly placed for the modest-pocket buyer’s market, attracting just the right amount of attention not to go unnoticed. It’s not quite the fashion accessory as its ‘bling’ sibling, the Evoque, nor is it as daunting as the Range Rover Sport in terms of size, price and maneuverability.
Occupant space is generous within the compactly designed Disco Sport, even for those sitting in the tail end of the vehicle. A brand-new rear suspension design is specifically incorporated to allow the packaging of seven seats as standard in every model.
We exchanged tarmac for gravel on our review route with Land Rover Experience Western Cape, who took us through the rock-strewed back roads of the picturesque farming village of Philadelphia. The vehicle was properly tested off-road with some grade four trails and wading exercises across strong-flowing rivers.
The Disco Sport took it all in its stride. It cleared every obstacle without skipping a beat or without so much as a rattle or a squeak. This confirmed Land Rover’s new unofficial mantra to me: You don’t have to look as rugged as Bear Grylls or have a beard like Kingsley Holgate to enjoy the adventures of an outdoorsy lifestyle.
The Disco Sport features a first-class infotainment system, a hard-working engine and all the bells and whistles you’ve come to expect from new-generation Land Rovers (Park Assist, Terrain Response, Lane Departure Warning), while at the same time, dishing up comfort and specification levels to match competitors.
The Disco Sport starts at between R740 000 and R800 000 and a good chunk of that is what you pay for the ‘premium-ness’ of the Land Rover badge. Granted, for the same price, one could get something completely different. But would you enjoy it as much as a Land Rover? Probably not… If you don’t believe me, ask the Queen!