“The mountain rose in front of me, and all around. The wind kept lashing out at the tent laid over a rough patch among bushes of cacti in which I was comfortably cuddled, lost in adventurous dreams – the challenges to conquer the following day; the paths to break.” If Paulo Coelho were a motoring writer, I guess thus would have been his lofty account of a day out in the LR2.
The urban entry-level SUV from Land Rover is one with the elements and has surprising potential to conquer a couple of them, but the relentless noise of the wind is as much a part of an LR2 story as the wilderness is.
UPSIDE: Well-appointed cabin, Dependable off-road skills, Price
FLIPSIDE: Moderate driver engagement, Wind noise, Possible leg-space fatigue in the rear
THE PRICE: AED 169,000
Now driven by a responsive 2.0 L Turbo engine – the same 2.0 L turbo that charges the Range Rover Evoque – a good bit of excitement and forward thrust is a given in the LR2. The six-speed transmission and all-wheel drive system of the LR2 manages the supply of its 240 hp power with the aid of 340 Nm of torque and those 19” wheels are a good bet to have some fun without switching off the traction control. And yet, the SUV feels a bit like a boat, with its loosely hinged steering and slapdash start. The suspensions are set for a firm ride, but not one that is necessarily marked by outright handling confidence. As for body roll and boisterousness, you could argue it forms a part of the spirit of adventure!
The battling capabilities of the Land Rover dynasty has been shared with the meek sibling and that’s what the driver counts on as he ventures into unchartered territory, at least in small SUV terms. The LR2 emulates the high driving stance and unhindered visibility of its big and full-fledged siblings. It even gets the family’s multi-terrain control knob even though the options are only three as opposed to the five in the LR4. A bold approach angle and more than one and a half feet (500 mm) of wading depth together with the hill control feature make it one of the more serious compact off-roaders you could buy at a price that can put lesser rivals to shame. Talking about economy, an efficiency record of 7 km per litre isn’t impressive enough for a 2.0L engine but respectable for a fairly capable SUV.
The LR2 is undoubtedly the least remarkable of the Rovers in design. Ironically, it brings to mind the new Range Rover Sport rather than a Land Rover, especially with its front grille and side vent finishers, conically plateauing roof and the sharply sloping rear box. Oh yes, this is one Rover that is as boxy as ever. The signature high roof of the Land Rover too is reduced to a mild hint above the boot.
The LR2 façade gets the new light cluster and LED elegance in the front and the rear, while the high hood and the low windows work to the advantage of the driver.
Cabin and controls
For those who buy in the name of the Land Rover will be delighted to find the alluring styling of the strawberry red and black seats that are, though smaller than the big bro’s, comfortable enough. There is more. Lifted from the Rangie are comfort features like the individual armrests for front riders and the wide windowsill where the driver can rest his.
Rear seats in the LR2 are spacious by compact SUV standards with ample Land Rover style headroom. Similarly, 755 L of boot space – more than double that with seats folded – is adequate, yet loading could be a challenge with the platform perched high above the spare tyre!
The split sunroof comes with a thin net screen, so you can’t completely shut out a persistent sun but, mercifully, the AC is effective with a rear vent provision as well.
The navigation touch screen and class-leading Meridien speaker system, are inducted from the gene pool of the LR and come equipped with a full-fledged voice command option. The seven-inch touch screen and a five-inch info screen tucked in between the conventional dual dials on the instrument cluster, as well as USB compatibility keep things both simple and sophisticated inside the LR2.
The family will admire the improved privacy in the LR2 than in its larger siblings though they might not happily approve of the body roll and the firm ride or the straitjacketed leg positioning in the rear. Convenient rear AC vents and ISOFIX seat fixtures along with reasonable boot space make it a good entry level SUV to consider with pleasantly adventurous weekend jaunts in the offing – if you learn to ignore the wind noise that trails the ride!
A good rear view camera with guidelines and an easy to maneouver steering, besides slender pillars that make for excellent visibility can make this an appealing car to the lady of the house, provided she has fancied lessons in horse riding some time. The LR2 might be a full foot less in length and height than the LR4, but it feels like a full-grown SUV while taking command of its wheel and inevitably, while stepping down too!
The essential Land Rover LR2
Even as it shares the brand prestige and some of the admirable family traits including the Terrain Response® and the Meridien sound box, the LR2 doesn’t inherit the illustrious presence, though it is no plain Jane either. The family DNA of adventure and fun is maintained to a good degree even though at times it makes you feel like a boat captain rather than an SUV driver. If many rivals outshine the LR2 in glamour and gloss, the soul of an SUV receives a boost with the entry-level Land Rover’s drive-ability features and that is where the LR2 packages good value for the price it claims.
Drive Courtesy: Al Tayer Motors
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy