Iceland ? It?s a seven and one-half hour flight from Seattle to the Keflavik International Airport in Iceland. The airport sits on peninsula that juts out into the North Atlantic Ocean just south of the capitol and largest city, Reykjavik. I was one of a group of automotive writers coming here to drive the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport. As I arrived just before 7 a.m. and made my way to the bus that would take us to our hotel — it was still dark.
This was my first trip to Iceland, and I expected to see barren wastelands covered in snow and ice — what I first saw was traffic jams and bumper-to-bumper vehicles. It was a Wednesday morning rush hour in the Reykjavik area and the 53 mile drive from the Keflavik International Airport to Ion Luxury Adventure Hotel to the east seemed more like a drive through Seattle or Los Angeles than a city of about only 200,000, in a country of 320,000.
?Discovery Sport?s design will resonate not only with existing Land Rover consumers, but also an entirely new generation of buyers,? said Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Design Director and Chief Creative Officer. ?We?ve refused to allow functionality to compromise Land Rover?s design leadership and vice versa; both interior versatility and off-road capability are class-leading. Discovery Sport is the ultimate all-round compact premium SUV.?
The upper trim levels of the Discovery Sport feature extra touches like twin-needle stitched leather on the instrument panel and door surfaces along with accents of real metal, not merely simulated metal. All the models do come with standard leather seating surfaces with the top levels getting more luxurious treatments.
Land Rover plans to offer an extensive list of wheel choices and various personalization options for an owner to customize the Discovery. I thought the center armrest cooler/warmer box was an interesting option.
At launch the standard drivetrain is a 240-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a nine-speed ZF automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The transmission is controlled by the large dial on the center console and when manual shifting is called for it has steering wheel-mounted shift paddles. The transmission makes smooth positive shifts and I appreciate having the shift paddles, they were especially useful on the icy roads where I could downshift a few gears to slow for a corner without having to tap the brakes. The combination four-cylinder engine and nine-speed automatic transmission produces a very good SUV fuel economy level of 20 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. Land Rover says the Discovery Sport accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds and has a top speed of 124 mph. A diesel option is planned for later in this year.
The list of all terrain technologies includes Hill Descent Control, Gradient Release Control?, Wade SensingTM,?Roll Stability Control; Dynamic Stability Control,?Electronic Traction Control and?Engine Drag torque Control. Each of these helps the driver to maintain optimum control over the vehicle through a broad range of driving conditions. What all this means to the Discovery Sport driver is excellent control on nearly any type of surface or terrain and in many cases it will keep the driver out of trouble.
Iceland is a spectacular test track for an off-road vehicle and the Land Rover Discovery Sport handled all the conditions we experienced with flying colors. The test vehicles did not have the standard tires, but instead were equipped with Pirelli Scorpion studded tires which provided better traction in the icy conditions we experienced.
Combined with features like Park Assist, Automatic High-Beam Assist, Lane departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition, Trailer Stability Assist, Blind Spot Monitoring and Close Vehicle Sensing the Discovery Sport has nearly all the same features at the Range Rovers.