“As we traverse the topography, it’s almost as though one of the Norse gods, or trolls, is looking over us from above and shaking a sifter of powdered sugar.”
It’s as though we are driving over breakfast cereal.
The crunch, crunch, crunch, crunch sound of the crisp snow inside the all-new 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport’s cabin is both appetizing and unnerving.
The studded tires bite into the slippery surface, which calms the nerves but visibility is slim to none – save that illuminated by our headlights – and traction changes after every rotation of the rubbers. Yet, I have confidence in myself, the tires and a vehicle whose DNA stems from a lineage of predecessors born in environments devoid of traction.
Though it’s 9:08 a.m., the sun has yet to show itself and a blanket of pitch black envelops the country. To add to the ambiance, Iceland is a place where mythical beings are embedded in its folklore!
As we traverse the topography, it’s almost as though one of the Norse gods, or trolls, is looking over us from above and shaking a sifter of powdered sugar. This dusting of snow is a fanciful act of beauty in the dark setting.
I can’t see much around me. At all. But I know that one side of the trail we’re navigating is a steep drop off. While I’d love to drift the compact luxury SUV through some fantastic curves on these abandoned roads, now is not the time to try to be a hero. I’ll wait for another opportunity and the absence of a cliff.
In 100 metres, we will be turning left onto a street whose name I couldn’t pronounce correctly even if the prize was a large sum of money. Streets in this part of Iceland are not marked per se. We best follow the GPS-based instruction if we want to stay on track.
Iceland’s sliver of sunlight per day during the winter averages about six hours. We’re just about an hour and a half before sunrise.
At that time, I’ll better be able see these capable SUVs and their performance abilities. Right now, I’m feeling its four-wheel drive (4WD) system at work. The standard Terrain Response system is set to snow/ice/gravel, and the seat warmers are on full blast.
I’m also feeling the comfort and hospitality of its gracefully executed cabin and am enjoying the calm of the interior environment. It might be frigid and rough outside, but not from where I’m sitting.
The Discovery Sport will be available with one engine in Canada, and a great one at that. It’s a 2.0L, turbocharged 4-cylinder with 240 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. It’s then matched with a 9-speed automatic transmission whose shifts are as smooth as some of the ice we’re driving upon. It doesn’t feel underpowered yet is relatively humble in power numbers. Regardless, for what most people will do with this, it’s plenty.
There’s also room for up to seven passengers (there’s a 5+2 configuration with stadium seating available) and a wading depth of 600mm (24-inches), which we tested out as we crossed a river. Yes, a river. Just don’t open your doors for any reason in the process.
Other premium features include six USB outlets, 829L of cargo space behind the second row seats and an infotainment system that is fairly intuitive to use.
Throughout the day, our travels took us over almost every imaginable surface in Iceland: snow, ice, gravel, rocks, rivers, pavement, water and more.
When we ended our adventure in Reykjavik, the “tap, tap, tap, tap” of the studded tires resembled that of a mouse tap-dancing. The pitter-patter over the cobblestone streets meant our day was done, but not without being filled with everlasting memories.
Iceland a country that is hauntingly barren yet its winter beauty suggests a feeling of warmth (along with its geothermal baths and activity.)
And the companionship of the Land Rover Discovery Sport only added to the magic of the world’s northernmost capital city.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is set to arrive this spring and has a starting MSRP of $41,490.
VIDEO: Zack Spencer reviews Land Rover’s new Discovery in Iceland