Audi’s performance over the last 20 years has been extremely impressive, but it has had the backing and resources of the huge Volkswagen Group as well as its extensive parts bin. In comparison, Jaguar Land Rover is a tiny company – which makes its achievements all the more outstanding.
There are some amazing statistics attached to Jaguar Land Rover: Ј10 billion invested from 2008 to 2014, 40,000 staff, 23,000 of them new. Sales have doubled and profits are up to Ј2.6 billion per annum. Ј500 million has been recently invested in a new engine factory in Wolverhampton which can produce 400,000 engines a year, that’s one every 36 seconds!
On a patriotic note, 80 per cent of output is exported to 180 markets and Jaguar Land Rover is Britain’s biggest investor in research and development. The company even has a think tank in Warwick looking at what customers will want in 25 years time. The Discovery Sport is supposed to be a cut-price Discovery, but side by side it is the Sport that looks the more expensive. Beauty and styling are in the eyes of beholders but to me the Discovery Sport design not only shades its older sibling, the Discovery all but totally out-styles Audi’s Q5 and will surely be more timeless.
The Sport was originally launched late in 2014 but unfortunately came with a very old, thirsty and rather agricultural Freelander diesel, the brilliant new Ingenium unit not being ready. The old engine had a claimed combined economy of 46 mpg while the latest 150 PS unit claims a combined 57.7 mpg and 129 g/km of CO2. The 180 version claims 53.3 mpg and 139 g/km.
Not only are these figures much better than the old Freelander diesels, they also embarrass the Q5. Surprisingly, the new Land Rover engines are in the Euro 5 emissions class while the older Q5 four-cylinder diesels are in the latest Euro 6.
While the majority of an average SU V’s life is spent on tarmac, it’s important that a Land Rover can perform off-road, even if it is only a muddy field at a Gymkhana. Land Rover has therefore made improvements to the latest 2016 Sport including the addition of All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC), an advanced system that enables drivers to set and maintain a steady speed in off-road conditions. Developed by Land Rover’s renowned all-terrain specialists, ATPC functions similarly to a cruise control system, operational between 1 mph and 19 mph. The system adapts the vehicle’s behaviour according to the terrain, allowing even novice users the control of an expert off-road driver. ATPC also features a dedicated ‘launch’ feature, allowing the vehicle to pull away smoothly and easily, even on problematic low-friction surfaces like ice, snow or wet grass.
There is also Active Driveline, intelligently switching between two and four-wheel drive as conditions dictate, combining both the real-world fuel-saving benefits of two-wheel drive with the all-terrain capability of four-wheel drive. On-road agility also increases with Active Driveline.
As is the case with these systems today, Active Driveline’s transition from two- to four-wheel drive is seamless, but drivers can monitor its operation via a dedicated 4x4i screen on the 8-inch touchscreen display.
Adaptive Dynamics with MagneRide™ dampers, as pioneered on the Audi TT , bring even higher levels of occupant comfort and driver engagement. MagneRide™ dampers offer a wide range of adjustment adapting to road conditions and driver inputs thanks to a special damping fluid containing magnetic particles. When the particles are subjected to a magnetic field, the viscosity of the damper fluid is either increased or decreased, making the suspension stiffer or softer.
The motor industry is all about leap-frogging; if all manufacturers brought out their rival ranges at exactly the same time, it would be a lot easier for motoring writers. At the moment, with its latest product, the Land Rover would be my choice for its crisp timeless styling, fluid handling, sweet refined new diesel, imperceptible gear changes and the remarkable lack of wind noise. I haven’t put them back to back off road but knowing Land Rover’s heritage and prowess I suspect the Discovery Sport would win there too. The Audi is only three years old but such is the pace of development, it now lags behind later introductions.
Having said all that, I would miss the Audi’s wonderful and peerless interior ambience. The Discovery Sport is certainly well screwed together but the materials are rather ordinary; it doesn’t quite have a true premium feel. Compared with even five years ago cars are amazingly well equipped and admittedly these are top of their respective ranges but they want for nothing in terms of safety, connectivity and comfort. There’s automatic everything from wiper and lights to mirrors and even the tailgate.
|Audi Q5 2.0 TDI quattro S line
|Land Rover Discovery 2.0 quattro S tronic S line TD4 180 HSE Luxury
|1968 cc, 4-cyl
|1999 cc, 4-cyl