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Best AWD SUV
Quality, luxury, and off-roading prowess put the L and
Rover Discovery Sport TD4 150 SE in first place
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder Transmission: nine-speed
automatic Power: 110kW Torque: 380Nm Fuel consumption: 5.3L/100km
(claimed) ANCAP: HHHHH Price: $62,406 (indicative drive away)
YOU REALLY NEED to tick all the boxes to win one of the
fastest growing categories in new vehicle sales. Car makers have
thrown their best into the ring for a crack at this year’s title so all
credit to the Land Rover Discovery Sport for taking it out.
The Discovery Sport received a new powerplant in 2016, with
the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel replaced with a 2.0 -litre engine
delivering an identical 110kW. It does drop 40Nm, although the
output is still a healthy 380Nm from 1750rpm. The positives of
the new engine are the virtual elimination of turbo lag,
improved fuel economy and significant noise, vibration and
harshness refinements (the latter was an Achilles heel of the
old engine). While the Discovery Sport gives away almost 40kW
and 60Nm to both the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe, a
combination of a lighter kerb weight and a slick-shifting nine-
speed auto mean the power numbers don’t tell the whole story.
On the road, the Discovery Sport puts daylight between itself
and its rivals. It has more communicative steering, less body roll
and a firmer but compliant ride that’s able to absorb significant
potholes while handling gravel corrugations without complaint.
The Discovery Sport’s off-road performance is well above
anything the other finalists could produce. It has better
approach and departure angles, greater wheel articulation and
a switchable all-terrain system that allows the driver to choose
from grass/gravel/snow, mud-ruts and sand settings. Add to
that roll-over stability and hill descent control and you have
more capability than you’re likely to need.
As well-appointed as the Kia and Hyundai finalists are, there’s
an extra feeling of luxury in the Land Rover. With a combination
of leather trim on the eight-way electrically adjustable front
seats, soft-touch and brushed aluminium finishes across the
cabin and an eight-inch colour touchscreen display, the Discovery
Sport appears less cluttered and feels more contemporary. Its
smaller physical dimensions mean passengers, particularly in the
rear seats, have a little less room, but the 60/40-split rear seat
slides up to 160mm and you’re able to recline the back rest.
The Discovery Sport also delivers in convenience,
connectivity and safety. It has keyless entry and start, easy-
connect Bluetooth, five USB ports, three 12-volt outlets and
sat nav. The safety list includes all the expected features,
including seven airbags plus a pedestrian airbag in the bonnet,
lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking.
Kia Sorento Platinum
The Kia Sorento might have retained
the trophy it won for this class last year
if not for the great new engine in the
It’s difficult to fault the Sorento. It
has class-leading safety, loads of space
for up to seven, a luxurious interior,
well-sorted ergonomics and strong on-
road performance. At cruising speeds,
occupants are treated to an extremely
quiet cockpit, although there’s a level of
engine intrusion when scooting about
the suburbs at lower speeds.
The Sorento’s ride quality is
impressive, but the vehicle’s sheer bulk
does challenge steering feel and control
on more challenging sections of road.
But as an urban and highway cruiser,
3RD PLACE Hyundai Santa
Fe Highlander CRDi
While the Santa Fe and Sorento share a
lot of qualities, the Hyundai has some
unique styling and features to sway
more than a few buyers its way.
It scores an advanced self-parking
system and a larger eight-inch
infotainment and reversing camera
screen. For off-road activities, hill-
descent control is included.
Both vehicles share an engine and
transmission combination, with the
turbo-diesel putting out 147kW and
441Nm, matched to a six-speed auto
and delivering only average fuel
consumption of 7.8L/100km. However,
the Santa Fe does tend to be a little
less refined than the Sorento, with
greater engine and road noise intrusion
into the cabin.
The Sorento (above) and the Santa Fe (below).
OPEN ROAD 47
OR0317_BC_07 AWD Under + 50-60.indd 47
13/02/2017 11:47 am
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