The ship is in and the donation accounted for. Finally, you’re ready to trade some “units” for a premium SUV that will earn you the rightful acceptance at the golf and country club. You stride into the Land Rover showroom eager to write a cheque for something bearing the green oval emblem, something stylish like the Evoque, perhaps.
Then you catch sight of something that looks awfully like the Evoque out of corner of your eyes, but with an unusual-looking rear quarter greenhouse. The sales advisor notices and begins his pitch on the newly-launched Discovery Sport, which despite its resemblance to the Evoque, doesn’t belong to the “refined” Range Rover line up, instead it’s part of the “versatile” Discovery range. Yet at RM399,000 for the Si4 petrol variant (diesel to be announced later), it’s not a direct replacement of the defunct Freelander 2 previously priced around the RM300,000 mark either. Hmmm….
Despite Land Rover’s best effort to delineate its product range, the SUV shopper will inevitably have a tough time deciding between the Discovery Sport and the Evoque since both share similar powertrains, in our case, the 240PS/340Nm Si4 four-cylinder petrol engine with the ZF 9-speed automatic transmission. Yes, the Evoque is slightly costlier at RM414,888, but the RM15,000 difference can’t even buy the straps of a Birkin or a timepiece with bespoke movement, so that won’t be factor for a Land Rover buyer.
What about the additional row of seats at the back of the Discovery Sport? While Land Rover is sparring no expense in touting its “+2 flexibility”, the seats are really for children, or friends who like sitting with their kneecaps close to their chests, if they are limber enough to get there in the first place. In reality, the third row works best when stowed away, which maximises cargo space to 981 litres (measured to roofline), but then again you’re lugging around the seat’s deadweight.
The Evoque might not be brand new, but it didn’t become the fastest-selling Land Rover (sorry, Range Rover) in history for no reason. Since 2011, over 400,000 units have been produced with Land Rover shifting 125,365 Evoques out of its showrooms in 2014 alone. To these eyes, the design hasn’t aged a day and is visually more appealing than the spanking new Discovery Sport, which is a handsome SUV in its own right.
If you do have the opportunity to do an A-B comparison between the Evoque and the Discovery Sport, you’d find that the former’s practicality is far from shabby (575-litre load volume is more than many D-sedans), there’s good amount of legroom and it wins hands down in interior quality. Assuming all things being equal between the two on and off the road (we’ve seen the Evoque do things in the rough as well as any other Land Rover vehicles bar the Defender), the Evoque is most likely the better luxury SUV.
What is Land Rover up to?
It’s curious that Land Rover chose not to replace the Freelander 2 with a like-for-like, entry-level Discovery, though rumour has it that the new, soon-to-be expanded Defender range will see to that (refer to the DC100 concept). Even so, by positioning the Discovery Sport so close in price, performance and looks to the Evoque, Land Rover have inadvertently made life complicated for itself by pitting the newest addition to the range against its best seller. We know which one we’ll pick, what’s yours then?
Land Rover Discovery Sport Si4 SE
Price RM399,000 (incl. GST, w/o insurance & road tax)
Engine 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol, turbocharged, 4WD
Output 240PS, 340Nm
Transmission 9-speed automatic w/ manual mode
Performance 0-100km/h in 8.2 sec, top speed 199km/h
Wheels/tyres 18in alloys, 235/60 R18
Safety 7 airbags, dynamic stability control, hill descent control
Warranty 5-year/300,000km (w/ 5-year/80,000km maintenance package)