They say that dog owners become like their pets. I wonder if something similar can fairly be said of car makers and their products. Modern Land Rovers have many qualities, but they aren’t the most responsive or agile of modern family cars; and neither, as a company, is Land Rover.
Remember the Land-e concept? Some years ago, I spent a happy couple of hours being told all about it in the airy lobby at Land Rover’s Gaydon headquarters. It was a technological showcase intended to give prominence to all the little things the firm was either doing or developing at the time to make its showroom models more fuel efficient. As such, I dare say it served its primary purpose perfectly well.
But it was also a Freelander-sized car with a downsized engine, hybrid drive and an electric rear axle, and it was shown way back in 2006. Perhaps the management couldn’t see the wood for the trees back then, or maybe they just didn’t see a demand for an electrified Land Rover at all. Well, there should certainly be demand for one now
After quite the wait, then, the plug-in hybrid Discovery Sport is finally with us, just in time for the inevitable frenzied plug-in panic buying. It isn’t Land Rover’s first PHEV, nor the first medium-sized SUV to the plug-in party either. While Solihull was stroking its beard and plumping its various padded apparel, its rivals were simply getting on with launching their own alternatives; and, from Ford to Audi and Volvo to Volkswagen, most already have.
So what impact can this new Discovery Sport P300e have on what is becoming a quite well-established part of the SUV market? And what can it consequently do for Land Rover’s millstone-like fleet-average corporate CO2 emissions? Well, the short answer to both questions ought to be ‘plenty’.
Globally, the Discovery Sport is still the best-selling model in the whole Jaguar Land Rover stable.
Like most electrified options, the P300e won’t be one of the cheaper options within the model range (although it’s better-priced than most of its key rivals), but to businesses and to fleet drivers who can save on their tax bills by running one, it should make very good financial sense.
Will it make such a convincing case to own, to use and to drive, though? Well, after some back-to-back testing and interrogating alongside a couple of plug-in rivals, the BMW X3 xDrive30e and Volvo XC60 T6 Recharge, I can tell you with some confidence that it should. As well as having the right kind of vital statistics on paper, this new-breed Land Rover turns out to be a bit of a peach to drive: refined, responsive and very pleasant indeed. To some, it might not be the fuel-saver in practice that it promises to be on paper – but, as with all PHEVs, that will depend on how you use it as much as anything. Ah yes, the perfect get-out-of-jail-free card: blame the end user.