Hunter S. Thompson said it well. “Drive fast on empty roads with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested.”
On the recent launch of the new Land Rover Discovery Sport, that’s just how I felt. I wanted to fall in love with the Disco, except it wouldn’t be on open streets. We would be on mountain passes, country streets and dirt tracks.
Words and Pictures: #CountryDriver (aka#CountryRunner and #CountryCyclist – Ian Macleod)
We arrived in George with a handful of motoring journalists from around the country. None of us had any clue what was in store. Apart from some time behind the wheel of the new mini-Discovery and the suggestion of some trail running and mountain biking, we were in the dark.
We certainly weren’t expecting a train car ride up the Outeniqua Mountains. Past the wild dagga flowers, through the valley below the site where poor old Hansie Cronje met his end in a small plane and onward we went. High above George, we met our gleaming row of vehicles.
Handsome. Nowhere near as boxy as the big Disco, this new little brother is robust but sporty and smooth. We took no time to kick the tyres and light the fires.
Our convoy rolled over the Montagu Pass, spreading out as we stopped for photos and tried different toys on our vehicles. I had a petrol model and was concerned primarily with growl and speed on the uphills. That’s the fun stuff. And I was impressed. This car is cool enough to dash very happily around on the streets of George, but it is not precious on the dirt. It’s big, but noticeably smaller and nimbler than the big SUVs.
Coming down the other side was motoring majesty. These twisty mountain roads are rollercoasterish to the driving soul. Precipitous drop-offs are especially good entertainment when you feel totally safe whirring along beside them. And you will in the Disco. Without admitting anything, I do warn that reaching for your phone to check a message is one exception to this. I imagine.
Onward we went to Surval Boutique Olive Estate. This is a delightful spot for lunch. Motoring journalists famously need more fuel than their vehicles.
Next was Swartberg Pass. Now getting a better feel for the vehicle, I took the chance to test the Discovery a tad further. Of course, if Land Rover asks, all tests were within accepted safety norms… roughly. I was further convinced this car is ideal for country touring. The sureness of foot was key. That’s the sort of thing that makes the regular driver feel like a rally master.
Emerging from the mountains, our directions took us to a private farm off the Klaarstroom road. Here the cars took a backseat. kayaking, kicking golf and chipping for a floating green felt like just the sort of thing Discovery drivers might get up to on a weekend outing.
By now we suspected the little village of Prince Albert would be our home for the evening. A spot of dorpie driving ensued as we made our way to the evening’s lodgings. The Disco Sport felt right at home, again. Of course, it was comfortable. But it felt like the sort of motor one should drive into a Karoo town for exploration, culinary testing and outdoor fun.
Our first day ended with a chat at the famous Showroom Theatre and delicious grub. I took the chance to explore the town a bit, too…