Somewhere deep in a rubber tree plantation in Kerala, we were wading through a muddy ditch. But we weren’t upset about that. No, because the Range Rover Discovery Sport has air conditioning, leather seats and a Meridian music system and not to mention the exceptional capabilities of this machine to crawl out of almost anything you can throw at it.
Welcome, to the Land Rover experience!
We signed up 2 weeks in advance for this event and It felt like the longest we have ever waited for anything.. We were counting days and hours just for that weekend to arrive. Our slot was at 4 in the evening. I chose that particular slot since we had a 2 hour drive to reach the resort where the event is being held. So the plan was to start before noon and get lunch on the way and we will be on time for when it starts. The planning was fool proof!
We reached two hours early.
So we wandered around the resort to kill time and it was the middle of summer and when we say it was hot, it was HOT! With all that walking around in the heat, my colleague got a heat stroke, so we moved our operations to the reception area and then like someone turned on a switch, the clouds began to gather and Thor himself came down to party. The scorching heat gave way to a thunderstorm.
By the time we got our hands on these beautiful beasts, it was pouring rain… Now, if we were anywhere else, it would have been a total buzz kill. But we had a wicked smile on our faces. Because Range Rovers are made to be driven in wet slushy weather (read british climate). This is pure range rover territory.
Without much further adue we were taken from the resort to the “track”, and the track being a 10 kilometer long mud path through the woods, leading way to a gigantic rubber tree plantation. You could kill someone in there and no one would even know. Not that we recommend that sort of behavior!
We chose the Discovery Sport as our vehicle. As we got to the mud path, all the cars lined up, one behind the other and we moved as a convoy. We had a gorgeous Range Rover Evoque in front of us, which just added to our entertainment.
Now the rain had simmered down for a bit and we got to experience what was going to be the most memorable drive of our lives. It was like driving a luxury hotel room through the woods and am not joking, if the entry level range rover has this much to offer, I wonder how do they manage to get you a better experience in the bigger models like the Range Rover Sport or the Discovery.
Inside, you feel safe. Like a baby kangaroo in its mothers pouch. Not the best of references, but you get the point. This car in particular, the Discovery Sport is the cheapest rover you can buy, but it feels like a proper luxury SUV. You don’t find any odd cheap plastic bits protruding about in this car. Its all soft finish panels and aluminum all around the console. Even over rocks, stones and broken tree branches, the car soaked up the terrain with ease, leaving you relaxed at the wheel, while the butler asks “More tea sir?” with Mozart playing in the background. That’s how this car feels.
But when you take this car up a steep hill, that’s when the little 2 liter 177 horse power diesel motor shows its true colors. It roars up the climb like a lion, without breaking a sweat and then eats it up like a piece of fruit cake.
The trail was soaking wet so we switched to Grass/Gravel/Snow mode, which in turn made the car slow. Confused? Don’t be, The principle behind it is simple. If you are, for example, on gravel, and you try to accelerate out quickly, your tires will just dig into the gravel and get you stuck. But if you move slowly over loose gravel, there will be less wheel spin and hence you will move forward. Simple yet brilliant!
The discovery sport is also equipped with “Hill descent assist“. Turning it ON will let you go down a descent without you doing any of the work, that is, braking. The onboard system detects the movement and applies the brakes as necessary. The ABS kicks in with a shudder at times, that was a bit annoying though. It also has “Hill Hold“, which prevents the car from rolling backwards on an incline, when you let go of the brake pedal. It holds you there for a good 3 seconds, more than enough time for you to reach for the throttle and blaze off.
We went through tight corners, mud pits, slushy gravel, steep climbs and declines . The obstacles were very well laid out by the organizers. It tested the range rovers capabilities and gave us a hell of an experience.
On the way back to the resort, we knew we were in love with this car and wished if we could take her home. Maybe someday…
JLR Division, N.H.BY-Pass, Kundanoor Kochi – 682304.