In the Dolomites mountain range, where switchbacks and steep ascents and descents are myriad, Land Rover has been tuning its new SUV.
Our first on-road experience of the new seven-seat Discovery Sport is with Karl Richards, principal engineer of stability control systems and Terrain Response at Jaguar Land Rover.
Richards has worked at Land Rover since 1997; initially he worked on the Freelander and helped develop its innovative hill descent control system. "I've worked on everything on that platform since; I then went onto the Freelander II and the Evoque," he says.
The Discovery Sport prototypes being trialled here are near-production ready examples, but with partially stripped interiors, camouflage and roll cages for safety.
There's also some additional switchgear and connections inside, allowing the engineers to disable and directly interface with the car's electronic systems.
With the car warmed up, and another development Discovery Sport following behind, we head out on to the winding Giau pass – where the altitude of the road peaks at 7336 feet.
“A lot of stuff we’re doing here is dynamic driving,” says Richards, as he flings the Sport with vigour into the first of many hairpins, “where a lot of the stability functions come together.”
A comprehensive list of systems has to work in unison to ensure the Sport performs as expected. The ABS activates into the corner, the DSC operates through it, particularly if you’ve got some understeer, torque vectoring by braking works to aid turn-in and the traction control fires up coming out.