Whether it’s for emission irregularities elsewhere in the world or the Indian Supreme Court’s recently lifted ban on the registration of cars with diesel engines larger than 2,000cc, diesel cars have been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late. Consequently, this has forced many carmakers to re-think their product strategies. Among them is Land Rover which took a big hit thanks to the diesel ban in critical markets such as Delhi NCR. Presently, Land Rover’s smallest diesel engine in India is a 2.2-litre unit which goes on the Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque. Jaguar Land Rover’s sub-2,000cc diesel from the Ingenium engine family will make its long-awaited debut in India on the Jaguar XF that launches next month but there’s no word on when the Land Rover SUVs will get the new motor.
The government is expected to clear the air on diesel engine regulations soon. Yet, for those still hesitant to buy the Discovery Sport with the 2.2 diesel engine will see a version that is surely of interest here – the new Discovery Sport petrol that comes powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. It is the same unit that does duty on the Jaguar’s XE and XJ sedans. The petrol engine makes a strong 240hp, so aside from the expected improvements in refinement vis-a-vis the diesel Sport, there’s the promise of far stronger performance too – an area where we found both – 150hp and 190hp – versions of the diesel Sport lacking in. What is the petrol engine like and how different does it make the Discovery Sport feel? Let’s find out.
What is it like to drive?
The petrol engine packs in 90hp more than its corresponding diesel variant. From the moment you start moving, the extra power is felt and this engine has added some zing to the Discovery Sport. Talking numbers, the petrol Discovery smashes the fastest diesel variant by a mile; after all, it goes from 0-100kph in 8.5 seconds as against the diesel’s 10.5 seconds. The engine also felt fairly responsive, but there’s a strong surge in response once you go past the 4,000rpm mark, and power delivery stays strong until 6,000rpm. Performance, on the whole, is quite usable as it feels comfortable cruising at triple-digit speeds and also ambling at slow speeds in the city.
What you won’t like is that the nine-speed automatic gearbox feels hesitant to sudden inputs to the accelerator, especially at city speeds. It can transmit a few jerks too. While the engine has made the Disco sprightlier, we’d have liked it to be a bit more refined.
Save for the engine, the Discovery Sport remains unchanged over its diesel siblings, and so, the suspension is still stiff, and sharp undulations filter into the cabin. The low-speed ride is a bit firm, but the Disco gains composure as speeds rise. In fact, high- speed ride is second to none. The handling though, is safe and predictable rather than sporty.
As expected from a Land Rover, right from the way the doors shut to the interior design, everything seems to be built with longevity in mind. The car’s interior has been carried over from the diesel, except that it uses a different tachometer because this is a petrol car. The high-set seats and the low dash offer a nice view outside. We especially love how the rotary gear rises when you start the car and then there are those nice-looking air-con dials too.
However, there are some flaws too. The display in the instrument cluster doesn’t look as nice, and there are some shoddy-looking hard plastics in the cabin that look out of place in a car this expensive.
Should I buy one?
The Discovery Sport still feels more hardy than sporty and lacks sophistication that its rivals offer. However, if a seven-seat SUV with Land Rover DNA is what you’re looking for, the petrol Discovery Sport fits the bill over the diesels. That’s because at Rs 58 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it’s just a bit costlier than the 150hp diesel seven-seat HSE (Rs 56.82 lakh), but importantly, a good Rs 6 lakh cheaper than the fully loaded 190hp diesel. Also, it’s the better performer, it’s nicer to drive, is more refined, and with the uncertainty looming over big diesel-engined cars, it’s also the safer option.