Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Picture Perfect in the Land of Discovery; Iceland's Mesmerising Landscapes Are a Stunning Backdrop for the Launch of Freelander's Replacement

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Picture Perfect in the Land of Discovery; Iceland's Mesmerising Landscapes Are a Stunning Backdrop for the Launch of Freelander's Replacement

Article excerpt

Byline: David Williams ROAD SAFETY WRITER OF THE YEAR

IF you're going to launch a new Land Rover somewhere dramatic, challenging and utterly photogenic it's hard to beat Iceland. And that's exactly where the firm headed when it recently embarked on a press launch of its impressive new Discovery Sport, the model that replaces the ageing Freelander, and that will now take on the likes of BMW's X3 and Audi's Q5.

It was only fitting that the first leg of the launch -- from Reykjavik airport to an overnight halt in the middle of nowhere -- turned into what felt more like an expedition than a mere drive, as we suddenly found ourselves in the teeth of a powerful snowstorm. As our convoy began its ascent into a remote, hilly area at night on roads already deep in snow, temperatures dropped, the wind picked up and -- as the clouds dumped tons of snow in a few minutes -- we could hardly see where we were going in a full on white-out.

Equipped with studded, all-weather tyres, the new Discovery Sport plodded manfully on, taking all in its stride. Sure, a few of us ended up sliding into snowdrifts, but it was all part of the fun. By the next morning the storm had cleared and -- once the sun had risen -- (after 10am, daylight in Iceland is in short supply at this time of year), we admired the lines of a handsome-looking car that's a million miles from the Freelander.

It's more rounded, contemporary and stylistically more in keeping with the Range Rover, with the same neat nose and honeycomb grille of the Evoque or Range Rover sport. It also has the trademark "clamshell" bonnet and high, business-like waistline, while all models get smart alloy wheels. It looks slick and nicely designed inside too, although more workmanlike than the Evoque. It's what you might expect on an SUV that -- off-road -- will run circles around its rivals.

Perhaps the most useful feature, for some buyers, is the fact that, while the Discovery Sport is only nine centimetres longer than the Freelander (and slightly narrower and lower), the designers have squeezed in an extra row of seats in the back. It's what Land Rover calls a "5+2" arrangement, and you can see why; you're not left with much in the way of luggage space when the rear seats are upright, and no adult would want to spend too long in the "Gods", but it's certainly useful for transporting kids. …

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