The New Land Rover Discovery Sport

Post by Mark

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I’m a big Discovery fan and have been one ever since the late 80s when I watched a Camel Trophy event on TV. Watching those Discoverys tackle ridiculously insane terrain led me to really respect the car. So when I heard that Land Rover had launched a completely brand new Discovery, I contacted the dealer and asked them if I could test drive one.

I passed by the dealer Thursday afternoon and picked up the car for the weekend. My first impression wasn’t that great. The Discovery was a lot smaller than I was expecting it to be, it looked more like a crossover than a proper full fledged SUV. I couldn’t figure out why Land Rover would shrink the car so much, I was confused. And then I realized something, this wasn’t a replacement for the large LR4, this was a replacement for the smaller Freelander and then everything made sense.

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Land Rover have the large Range Rover and then they have the smaller Range Rover Sport. They’ve now gone and applied the same naming scheme to the Discovery which is what confused me in the beginning. So now you have the large Discovery (LR4) and also the smaller Discovery Sport. I was never a fan of the Freelander, I thought it was just one of the most hideous looking SUVs you could buy and mostly because I just hated how the rear of the car looked like. The new Discovery Sport has design elements taken from the Range Rover family and so it ends up looking like a baby Range Rover. It’s a much much better looking car than the Freelander and this time around the rear of the car is probably my favorite thing about the car. Suddenly, the Discovery Sport didn’t seem bad at all.

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Since it’s a Land Rover I decided to take the car to the abandoned military barracks in Bnaider. I wanted to test the cars offroad capabilities a bit as well as take some good photos while I was at it. The test drive vehicle I was given had only two rows of seats but you can also get a third row as an extra option. Since I was taking my wakeboard with me, I dropped the second row seat down so it could fit inside. Although the car is small it’s got a pretty large trunk and once you drop the second row seats down it becomes very IKEA friendly. I finished loading up my gear and headed off to Bnaider.

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The interior of the Discovery Sport is simple but tasteful. It’s borrows a lot of elements from the Evoque like some of the switches and the circular gear selector that sleekly pops up when you start the car. The Discovery Sport also shares the same 4-cylinder engine and 9-speed transmission with the Evoque as well. The model I drove had a large panoramic roof which really helped make the interior look a lot larger and spacious than it actually is. My car also had the optional Meridian Audio sound system fitted which sounded fantastic. The user interface of the cars 8inch touch screen is also very tasteful and nicely designed. The screen looked a bit low-res and pixelated but it was generally pleasant to use and helped give the interior a more premium feel. The interface was definitely much sleeker than the last few cars I test drove.

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Although the car has a 4-cylinder engine I didn’t find it slow at all on our flat roads. It was very easy to pick up speed and I was actually turning on the speed limiter on most of the roads since I found it very easy to overspeed. Once I got to Bnaider I shifted the driving style program from “general” to “sand” and headed offroad towards the abandoned barracks. The ride on hard packed sand was pretty loud and bumpy because of the large 20″ wheels that were fitted on the car. The low ride height also made me more cautious while approaching obstacles but once I got to the barracks things got a lot easier. The abandoned barracks have basically been turned into a small offroad circuit which I decided to explore in the Discovery. Even with stock tires I didn’t have any issues at all traversing the deep soft sands and I also didn’t face any issues tackling the extreme uphill and downhill descents. I highly doubt anyone would use this car for anything this intense but if they did they’d know the car can handle it. Actually the only thing that was an issue was when I climbed a curb in the parking lot behind Pick Yo in the city. While climbing back down from the curb I actually hit the bottom of the car because of the poor ground clearance.

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Whenever I take out cars for test drives I always ask myself if I’d want one for myself. Most of the time its yes but other times like on this occasion the answer is no. In this case it has nothing to do with the Discovery Sport itself, I think the car is very capable and the most accessible Land Rover since it starts at around KD15,750. But, it’s just not for me. If I was looking for a compact SUV I’d choose the much more sexier looking Range Rover Evoque for example. The Discovery Sport is more of a family oriented car since it’s slightly larger than the Evoque and can fit a third row of seats in the back. It’s a practical everyday car that’s easy to drive especially considering it has helpful features like parking assist where the car parks itself for you. So yeah I think its definitely aimed towards soccer moms and the like. If you’re interested in the car then you should definitely pass by the dealer and request a test drive.


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Speed Cameras Rotated

Post by Mark

speedcamera

On my way to Khiran yesterday I noticed a few of the speed cameras on the 30th had been rotated to face the front of the cars instead of the rear. I didn’t take a photo but a reader sent me the one above and told me he had spotted rotated cameras on the 5th, 6th and 7th Ring Roads as well.

At first I thought they might have something to do with the emergency lanes being available for the public to use but I don’t think thats the case anymore. I found rotated cameras on parts of the highway that didn’t have any emergency lanes so that theory didn’t work. My best guess now is they’ve just rotated some cameras so that people can start slowing down much sooner than before.

Thanks Dragos


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Emergency Lanes Now Open from 6AM to 10PM

Post by Mark

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According to an instagram post by the Ministry of Interior, the emergency lanes on some of the major highways are now open to the general public to use from 6AM to 10PM as long as you don’t exceed 45km/h. The roads are the ones highlighted in blue in the map above. Their post is in Arabic so I couldn’t understand most of it but looking at the map my best guess is the emergency lanes they’re talking about are on the 30th, 40th, 50th and 60th roads, as well as the 5th and 6th Ring Roads.

Now for a bit of venting…

Why isn’t this information on their website? What about all the expats like me who can’t read Arabic? Why is the road open only from 6AM to 10PM? I mean if it’s open during the whole day why not just keep it open 24/7 instead of making it illegal after 10PM. It just complicates things. And why are they limiting the speed to 45km/h? Why don’t they just pave the road and turn it into a proper lane and again simplify things. It’s as if they still haven’t made up their minds on if they should completely cancel the emergency lanes or keep them.


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Our Taxis Suck

Post by Mark

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I got a press release from the Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai a couple of days back that pissed me off. It’s about a new device that’s being installed in their taxi cabs to help reduce accidents:

Once the taxi reaches a speed of 60km/hour, sensors fitted to the front and rear of the car are activated. If the taxi enters within the safety zone of the vehicle in front, a safety message will be sent to the taxi’s speaker inside the car. Similarly, if a vehicle approaching a taxi breaches the safety zone, they will receive a message through their own radio. This safety message will tell the driver to back away from the vehicle in front and to remember to keep a safe distance as it could be carrying a friend or loved one,” [Link]

The press release pissed me off because it’s frustrating to keep seeing how much more advanced Dubai is getting while we can’t even get our cab drivers to use a simple device like a taximeter. I would personally use cabs more often and I’m sure other people would do if it didn’t mean we would have to haggle for every ride.


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New Police Car Graphics

Post by Mark

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It looks like the cop cars are getting a graphical facelift. The images in this post have been circulating social media showing four new car graphics for the cop cars. I kinda like the current blue and fluorescent yellow combo we have right now, the new colors seem a bit dull.

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Uber for Tow Trucks, and it’s Local

Post by Mark


[YouTube]

Yesterday when I was on my way to Khiran to wakeboard, I passed a tow truck which had its phone number printed on the back. In my head I was thinking I should remember that number because what if my car broke down here, in the middle of nowhere what would I do? Oddly enough later during day a friend of mine sent me a link to the advert above for a locally created app called WINCH.

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WINCH is Arabic for tow truck and the app works similar to Uber where as in when you need a tow truck you launch the app and request one. The app requires you to fill in some basic information the first time you run it like your name, email and phone number but after that it automatically logs you in. The app uses your GPS location to find you as well as displaying nearby tow trucks on the map. Cost wise, according to the app description WINCH is free to use but for the towing cost you need to deal directly with the tow truck company. From my previous experience with tow truck, that usually means a bit of haggling.

The app is a good idea, it’s definitely not something I will be using often (I hope at least) but it’s a good app to have if I ever need a tow truck. The app is free and available for [iPhones] and [Android]

Thanks Musaed


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New Police Rescue Car Livery

Post by Mark

Based on the video above that has been circulating Whatsapp, it looks like the local police enforcement are getting new “Rescue” vehicles with their very own car graphics that look a bit rice. Based on the video they’re just waiting for approval before releasing the cars onto the streets. [YouTube]

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This can’t be right

Post by Mark

obstruction

Awhile ago as I was pulling up into my street and into my buildings underground parking, I noticed a cop car parked on the side of the road. I then noticed a bunch of cars that were parked legally on the side of the road had tickets on them. So I pulled up next to the cop and I asked him if this was a no parking street, he replied saying no he’s ticketing them for “عرقلة” which means obstruction.

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What exactly are these cars obstructing (for example the 4 pictured on top)? I checked the tickets and noticed he left the space where he’s supposed to explain what the ticket is for blank. That can’t be right or fair can it?


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Acura Showroom Now Open

Post by Mark

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Acura, the luxury division of Honda have opened up their first showroom in Kuwait. I passed by the first time two weeks ago before they opened and was given a tour of the place, and earlier today I went back to take some photos now that it’s actually open. According to the Acura representative who was showing me around, the Acura showroom in Kuwait is the largest Acura showroom in the world. They actually don’t like calling it a showroom but instead prefer using the world facility since it’s a one stop shop for everything Acura.

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Acura is a premium brand and the showroom lives up to it. The building is huge and very tastefully decorated with lots of light colors and lots of natural daylight everywhere. As I said earlier, they prefer to call it a facility because of the fact you have the main showroom in the front, a quick service garage in the back, a body and paint shop in the basements and a spare parts store all under the same roof.

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Right now the dealer is carrying two Acura models to start off with, the TLX which is a four-door luxury sedan and the MDX which is their luxury SUV. My first question obviously was if they were getting the NSX since thats the car I’m extremely interested in. Turns out they will be getting it once it launches next year. Not only that but their facility is already prepared for it, they have a special location on the showroom floor where they will be displaying the car as well as a special section of their garage designed specifically for the NSX maintenance.

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I can’t believe its taken this long for Acura to get here but glad it’s here now that the NSX is getting released. The new showroom is located in Al-Rai right next to Xcite Electronics. Their opening hours are from 8:30AM to 8:00PM.


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Review: The 2015 Corvette Stingray

Post by Mark

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I don’t test drive that many American muscle cars, in fact I’ve only reviewed one before and that was the very evil Camaro ZL1 back at the end of 2012. What made that car so much fun back then is it rained when I had it. So you can imagine my bewilderment when it started raining this weekend right after I picked up a brand new arctic white Corvette to review. What are the odds that the second time in two years that I pick up a tail happy monster American car, it freakin rains again! Either someone up there loves me and wants me to have a lot of fun, or hates me and is hoping I’ll end up wiping out. Luckily it turned out to be the former.

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I’ve been a fan of Corvettes ever since I was a little kid and I nearly even purchased one when I moved back to Kuwait after university. So when I was dropping off the review Escalade a few weeks back and heard they might have a Corvette to test drive I jumped at the opportunity. My persistence finally paid off when I was told I’d be able to pick one up this past Thursday to enjoy over the weekend. Strangely though I ended up picking up the Corvette from a rental firm in Salmiya. Alghanim’s test drive vehicle wasn’t going to be available for sometime and since they had just delivered a brand new Corvette to a car rental company on Thursday, they ended up renting it back off them for the weekend to give to me. I was actually the first person to drive the car and so had to remove all the plastic from the dashboard, doors and seats. A brand new Corvette all to myself for the weekend, I thought it couldn’t get better, and then it rained.

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The 2015 Corvette is a beast of a car with a 6.2L V8 engine, 480HP and a 0-100 acceleration speed of 3.8 seconds. Its badass and when I first drove it off the lot I knew it was going to be a fun ride. I ended up spending most of the weekend going sideways while trying to be obnoxiously loud. It was a repeat of my weekend with the ZL1 and my friends calling me هيلق (hooligan) while I’m smoking the rear tires. No sort of civilized driving took place this past weekend. I mean seriously though I drive an FJ Cruiser as my daily driver so there was no way I wasn’t going to end up driving like a moron in a Corvette that wasn’t even mine.

The Corvette has five drive modes to choose from, Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track with each one of these modes calibrating 12 different performance variables like the exhaust mode, steering, traction control and even the cluster display. By default the car starts in Eco mode but in case you want the loud exhaust sound of the track mode you can turn that on permanently from the settings screen. Speaking of the screen, the Corvette has a touch screen media center which like every other American car I’ve been in, looks like it was designed to be used with Windows 95. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for American carmakers to hire decent interface designers, it would make such a big difference in the overall experience of the car. On the other hand there is a super cool hidden compartment behind the touch screen. With a touch of a button the screen slides down revealing a compartment with a USB port (Check out video below). So if you have an iPod you can just plug it in there or you could just use it to store your wallet, glasses, keys, cocaine or other trinkets. In case you’re wondering there are two more USB ports in the center console which are better located to plug your phone in.


[YouTube]

One of my favorite features in the new Corvette is the targa top since it allowed me to remove the roof and drive as a semi convertible when the sun came out. The ability to remove the roof when the weather is great is such an added bonus and it’s so easy to do. I watched one YouTube video and then was able to remove the roof within seconds and store it in the trunk. Putting it back on took a bit longer but it’s still really easy and a one person job.

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One question I always ask myself when driving a sports car is if it can be a practical daily driver. With the Corvette I think the answer would be possibly, but not for me. The car is pretty low and I was scraping the front spoiler on some speed bumps and even while entering my underground parking. But other than that it’s actually a fairly easy car to drive as long as you don’t step on the gas pedal more than half way. In traffic it’s easy to maneuver and when in Eco or Tour mode the exhaust sound is muted and very civil. My biggest gripes with the car are mostly superficial. I didn’t think the interior felt premium, the car I drove had a red and black interior but the red made some of the blemishes in the leather finishing more visible. The whole interior also felt very plasticky which is an issue with most American cars. On the bright side it didn’t have any of the awkward touch controls of the Cadillacs and instead uses real buttons and nobs for the various interior controls. One thing I really found odd is how the door doesn’t have any handles, not on the outside nor the interior. Instead it uses a touch button for the door on the outside which is fairly common, but it also uses a touch button to open the door from the interior. I didn’t know that and when I first tried to open the door to get out I couldn’t because I couldn’t find the door handle. Anyway I finally figured out it was a button I had to press to get out and it made me wonder what would happen in an emergency or if the car battery died while you were in it. For that it turns out there is an emergency door handle on the floor near the seat. I don’t know, it just seems to complicated and over engineered for just a simple door handle.

For those of you wondering when the souped up Z06 arrives to Kuwait… they don’t know. The 2016 Middle East version of the Z06 keeps getting delayed and the dealer doesn’t have an estimated arrival date as of this post.

The 2015 Corvettes start at KD22,795 which is a ridiculous value for the performance you’re getting. Colorwise if I was to get one it would most likely be the shark grey metallic exterior with a full black interior. If you’d like to test drive any of the Alghanim Automotive cars then click [Here]


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