What is it?
The Discovery Sport is currently the entry point in to the Land Rover family. It is a compact luxury SUV, a five-seater with the option of getting it as a seven-seater. The Discovery Sport has been in India since 2015, and all this time, it had a 2.2-litre diesel engine doing duty in it (along with an 2-litre petrol). However, this diesel engine was replaced internationally by a new 2-litre engine, and has finally made it to India as well.
Just the engine. It is a familiar one, we’ve seen it on a bunch of Jaguar cars already – the XE, XF and even the F-Pace. Part of the Ingenium family of engines, JLRs attempt at a new generation of more efficient, cleaner power units. The engines are up to 80kg lighter than their predecessors, and have been engineered to significantly reduce internal friction (by up to 17 per cent) to improve efficiency. There is a range of Ingenium petrol engines as well, and interestingly, parts can be shared between the two. What is different about these engines compared to the older ones is that they have significant advancements in electronically controlling the oil pressure, engine temperature, and piston cooling. They also feature mechanical changes like an offset crank and roller bearings on the cam and balancer shafts.
These engines have particular significance to the JLR group as they are going to be used across their range of cars, save for the flagships of each company. These engines have already been rolled out on the Jaguar range, and the Land Rover range is now getting them as well. The cars equipped with these engines are going to be selling in higher numbers as well, compared to the same models with bigger engines (and price tags).
This 2-litre Ingenium diesel engine is a 1999cc unit, and comes with the option of two power outputs – 148bhp and 178bhp. While the Pure and SE trims come only with the 148bhp output, the HSE and HSE Luxury trims get the option of both outputs. The car we are driving is the HSE 148bhp car. The engines are paired to the same 9-speed automatic gearbox that did duty alongside the older engine.
Fun to drive?
Certainly. This engine has new variable geometry turbochargers that allow torque to kick in rather low down. You get peak torque right from 1750rpm and it tapers of only post 3500rpm. The interesting bit is how refined the motor is. It is really smooth, revs cleanly and there is no clatter. On the go, the engine isn’t noisy as it shuffles up and down the nine cogs on offer.
The gearbox is a pretty sorted unit as well. It has got a short first gear to keep it moving in off-road conditions, and a tall ninth gear to enhance cruising at high speed. Shifts are seamless and the box is pretty happy being left to its own devices. Nine times out of ten, it knows exactly what you want to do and allows you to do it without intruding. It will happily drop a gear and sometimes two to give you more punch when you need it. However, the occasional downshift does come in a tad too late. There’s a solution to that — pull the paddle on the left to manually downshift, and you’ll never be left hanging. The car is extremely comfortable out on the highway, and returns impressive fuel economy figures as well. We managed to get 16kmpl on the Mumbai Pune expressway, while doing reasonable speeds. All that tinkering to reduce internal friction losses seem to be working!
The ride quality is superb, and you don’t feel much of our roads inside the cabin. Even when the roads get exceptionally bad, the suspension soaks everything without thudding and thumping around uncomfortably. It is no BMW so don’t expect to go corner carving in it, however it is exceptional off-road.
It gets Land Rover’s excellent terrain response system with pre-programmed modes that adjust throttle, engine and transmission characteristics depending on the type of terrain you are on. It has got a Mud/ Ruts mode, Grass/ Gravel/ Snow mode and a Sand mode.
The Land Rover goes head to head with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLC and the BMW X3. It may lack the tightness in its chassis and the dynamics of its competitors, but it does offer significantly more space on the inside (and the option of a third row). The terrain response system also means that it will go further off road than the competition. The interiors do look a bit dated compared to the Merc’s, however you cannot question the quality and finish.
While it might have been on the pricier side of the spectrum earlier, the new pricing puts it on par with its rivals. The Disco Sport makes a great alternative to the German offerings, providing luxury and exclusivity in equal measure without compromising on how far you can go if you dare take your half-crore SUV off-road.