Ford tried and failed. BMW tried and gave up. Ironically, the Tata Group from what feels like an auto-developing country, India, which has been owned by the two British luxury brands since 2008, proves to the established premium manufacturers what potential Jaguar and Land Rover have.
The development of Jaguar Land Rover (as the company is now called) is impressive. Not because the company wants to sell 500.000 vehicles worldwide this year and has grown continuously for five years. But because the quality has increased significantly under the new management. And why? Because the company doesn't talk about saving all the time, but invests in quality and new models. This can also be felt in the new Discovery Sport.
Two former BMW top managers can finally realize what they were denied or not possible for whatever reason at BMW or Ford. Former BMW development board member Wolfgang Ziebart and Ralf Speth were both previously involved with BMW, Land Rover and Jaguar. Only now do they obviously have the freedom to convert their beliefs into products. Speth as CEO and Ziebart as head of development. But this is another story.
The new Land Rover Discovery Sport has qualities and features that will make it more difficult for established competitors in the compact SUV segment. This is not a question. There is the innovative seat adjustment and the 5 + 2 seat configuration, the automatically engaging four-wheel drive Active driveline and the first SUV with a pedestrian airbag and of course with five stars in the EuroNCAP crash test.
For the first time there is a nine-speed automatic transmission in the compact SUV segment. The price list starts at a reasonable 32.250 euros for the economical turbodiesel version with 150 hp and an official average consumption of 4,5 liters. However, this version only has front-wheel drive. Although the new models will come to the dealer at the end of February, this diesel will only be available in the second half of the year. The “eD4” diesel engine belongs to efficiency class A + and should only emit 119 g / km CO2. The entire range of engines ranges from 150 HP to 240 HP in the Si4 petrol engine. The price list goes up to 54.550 euros for the HSE Luxury, but can be increased significantly by extras.
All theory is gray and knows driving practice in deep snow. The test drives in Austria's winter sports paradise south of Salzburg not only left traces in the snow, but above all in the consciousness of the testers. Savoring what the new Discovery can do required a little effort and absolute confidence in the technology. It takes time for the sweat of fear to give way to the sweat of working on the steering wheel when you let the car gasp around the pylons in the snow and force it to break out. The new multi-link rear axle raises the Discovery Sport to the driving level of a Porsche Macan, which even landed a few points behind the Discovery in the EuroNCAP test.
The precision of the steering and the interplay of the automatically activated all-wheel drive with the new rear axle prove that the addition "Sport" in the name is justified. The Discovery Sport is fun, off-road and on the normal street. How dynamic and light-footed it moves and can be steered on winding country roads is particularly surprising when you remember the predecessor. The electric power steering, the system called "Torque Vectoring by Braking" and the adaptive "MagneRide" shock absorbers ensure that the driving condition is always manageable. But please: The Discovery Sport also respects the physical limits. And hopefully the driver too. By the way: It may be cool that the marketing people always invent such bumpy terms, but it does not contribute to understanding. But do you have to understand every technical detail if you feel comfortable thanks to its function?
In the field, the Discovery Sport proves to be a real Land Rover. Plenty of ground clearance, large bank angles, it takes gradients in both directions as if there was no gravity. You have to push yourself to the limit. Its quality off-road becomes clear in the snow. It is particularly nerve-wracking when the driver has to put the brakes on because the hilldown system intervenes in fine doses and keeps the speed in the limit.
In the interior you can feel from many details that the red pencil did not play a major role in the choice of material. The feel is high-quality, wherever you go, the sensors report quality at your fingertips. The surprise of the automotive industry is that it was an Indian company that brought the brand into shape. Land Rover fans can look forward to. Photos: Jaguar Land Rover