GPT, GWOF team up for $608m purchase

GPT Group has teamed with GPT Wholesale Office Fund (GWOF) to purchase the CBW property in Melbourne from CBUS Property for $608.1 million.

GPT and GWOF will each acquire a 50 per cent interest in CBW — otherwise known as the ‘Corner of Bourke and William’ — with the deal representing a capitalisation rate of 6.5 per cent.

CBW comprises 181 William Street (a 26-level office tower), 550 Bourke Street (a 19-level office tower) and Goldsbrough Lane, which contains 5313 square metres of ground and mezzanine retail space.

GPT’s chief investment officer Carmel Hourigan said the deal was another example of the group leveraging its balance sheet capacity and relationship with its funds to secure large scale assets.

“This transaction takes acquisitions for the Group to $1.7 billion since the start of 2014,” Ms Hourigan said.

“Importantly, the balance sheet will secure additional property management and funds management fees on top of its 50 per cent share of the transaction, resulting in an enhanced return.”

Asset income from the properties is underpinned by high-profile leases including IAG, Deloitte, Ashurst, Baker & McKenzie and Crowe Horwath.

Settlement of the transaction is due to occur next month.

Is the auto industry returning to bad habits of the past?

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Happy 25th, MX-5 Miata! Three Generations of Mazda’s Sports Car Compared—Plus Our Original Reviews!

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Land Rover Discovery Sport – first ride

We ride with Jaguar Land Rover’s stability control system engineers to gain an insight into why the new Discovery is called the ‘Sport’In the Dolomites mountain range, where switchbacks and steep ascents and descents are myriad, Land Rover has been tuning its new SUV.

Our first on-road experience of the new seven-seat Discovery Sport is with Karl Richards, principal engineer of stability control systems and Terrain Response at Jaguar Land Rover.

Richards has worked at Land Rover since 1997; initially he worked on the Freelander and helped develop its innovative hill descent control system. “I’ve worked on everything on that platform since; I then went onto the Freelander II and the Evoque,” he says.

The Discovery Sport prototypes being trialled here are near-production ready examples, but with partially stripped interiors, camouflage and roll cages for safety.

There’s also some additional switchgear and connections inside, allowing the engineers to disable and directly interface with the car’s electronic systems.

New Land Rover Discovery Sport revealed

With the car warmed up, and another development Discovery Sport following behind, we head out on to the winding Giau pass – where the altitude of the road peaks at 7336 feet.

“A lot of stuff we’re doing here is dynamic driving,” says Richards, as he flings the Sport with vigour into the first of many hairpins, “where a lot of the stability functions come together.”

A comprehensive list of systems has to work in unison to ensure the Sport performs as expected. The ABS activates into the corner, the DSC operates through it, particularly if you’ve got some understeer, torque vectoring by braking works to aid turn-in and the traction control fires up coming out.

Much to my surprise, the Sport doesn’t appear to protest at this hard and fast cornering treatment. It seems to respond swiftly to control inputs, understeer appears minimal and – despite the steep descents and repeated heavy braking – there’s little sign of any fade.

Blog: Is Land Rover leaving behind its core market with the Discovery Sport?

“Our goal is to make sure that whoever drives it will find it rewarding – and that all of the on-board systems will help them,” says Richards. “We have to make sure the software copes really well. It allows us to add character and flavour to the car and to make it exciting, while still ensuring it’s safe.”

This Discovery feels like it lives up to its ‘Sport’ moniker far more than I initially expected. What’s most notable is its ride and poise. It’s much firmer than predicted, although not to an uncomfortable extent, and body roll is minimal.

“I have a lot of faith and confidence in it,” says Richards. “It’s been one of the biggest targets: making sure it’s consistent and predictable and does what you want.”

Land Rover hasn’t left the off-road element of the Discovery Sport unattended though. Although the company has benchmarked the Discovery Sport against the likes of the Porsche Macan, BMW X3 and Audi Q3, the fact that this is a Discovery has clearly not been forgotten.

“To get the green Land Rover badge it has to perform properly off road,” notes Richards. “It’s been challenging making sure that the off-road capabilities are there but we’ve some clever technology and software that helps us meet those targets.”

How the new Land Rover Discovery Sport was designed

We experience both petrol and diesel-powered examples, each equipped with a nine-speed ZF transmission. Both feel suitably fast and the transmission, despite being worked hard in the rapidly changing terrain, does a fine job of selecting the right ratio.

Traction rarely proves an issue, with the four-wheel-drive system shuffling power around with apparent ease, and effortless, quick progress is made over the tight, torturous and hilly roads. The overall impression is of a very surefooted and competent SUV.

The prototypes have also proven reliable, Richards says. “We’ve driven these cars 1000 miles in a day, then driven them in a spirited fashion around here for a week, then driven them to Belgium. Then you can go to the ’Ring, then do a couple of laps flat out. That’s the robustness of them,” he adds.

“We are making sure the customer finds no fault,” states Richards. Those customers, he thinks, will be people who want a car that offers performance, practicality, and a sense of adventure – and want to know that they’ve a car that’s going to do the job wherever they go.

After all, many families are now looking to have one car that will tick all the boxes and suit all conditions. The Discovery Sport, with its seven seats, its plethora of advanced technology, potential driver appeal and off-road credentials, looks well set to embody those requirements.

“It has to do everything – on-road and off-road – well,” concludes Richards, “otherwise we’ve failed.”

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New Land Rover Discovery Sport unveiled

Seven-seat Discovery Sport SUV revealed ahead of January launch; set to go on sale for £32,395This is the new Land Rover Discovery Sport, the long-awaited compact SUV model that finally reveals the firm’s plans for a replacement for the entry-level Freelander.

Following the towering success of the Range Rover Evoque, which has trebled the company’s sales expectations ever since its launch in 2011, Land Rover has also decided to revolutionise its Halewood stablemate, which is almost identical under the skin.

The Discovery Sport – which opens for orders in January with deliveries expected during Q2 of next year – has been comprehensively redesigned and lengthened compared with the Freelander, with new rear suspension and a ‘five-plus-two’ seating format.

It will be packed with technology, including a new infotainment system that will spread through the range and a new kind of exterior pedestrian airbag on the bonnet. 

Land Rover believes that it will attract both the Freelander faithful and a new generation of buyers who wouldn’t have considered a Discovery before.

With a four-level range starting at £32,395 and reaching into the lower £40,000s, the new Sport is the first member of an emerging new-generation Discovery family whose incumbents will lay special emphasis on SUV practicality and stand between the company’s two other emerging model pillars: the rugged Defender family and luxurious Range Rover line-up.  

DESIGN

The Discovery Sport draws plenty of design influence from the Discovery Vision concept, which was shown in New York in April and is sure to also influence the forthcoming Discovery 4 replacement. Although it is 80mm longer than the Freelander and a little lower, the Sport still looks compact but less upright and boxy, and its body sections are fuller. 

Design boss Gerry McGovern calls it the pioneering model in a forthcoming generation of Discoverys that aim to show that premium positioning can be combined with practicality without unhappy compromises in either direction. 

McGovern claims that he’s especially proud of the Sport’s dynamic shape – the way that its ‘fast’ clamshell bonnet works with well raked screens front and rear, a rising beltline, a gently descending roofline (although not enough to compromise interior headroom) and a carefully developed rear spoiler that cuts drag and is also able to keep the rear screen clean in murky weather. 

The Sport shape has been optimised aerodynamically. The frontal area has been carefully controlled (the Sport is 15mm lower overall than the Freelander) and the drag factor, decent for an SUV at 0.36, has been refined both by computer techniques and authentic wind tunnel testing.

Inside the Sport, there’s a sumptuous but unthreatening interior (“premium but not precious” is McGovern’s description). It is reminiscent of other modern Land Rovers in the way that it emphasises strong vertical lines via a prominent centre console, which is nevertheless a little lower and more careful with space than that of the Range Rover Sport. 

Elsewhere, the accent is on careful packaging that, with a versatile seating system, brings seven-seat capability to every British buyer. The instrument layout is traditional – two analogue dials separated by a five-inch info screen) – but the quality of materials is high and top models have double-stitched leather trim to further boost the premium feel.

In the centre of the dashboard, a new eight-inch screen governs an all-new infotainment system that is expected gradually to flow through the whole range.

As well as handling the usual audio and navigation functions, it provides a hub for a new set of InControl apps that, for now, can provide vehicle tracking, access to emergency services and an in-car 3G hotspot. 

Further back in the car, the second row of seating moves backwards or forwards by 160mm – allowing, at maximum, as much second-row legroom as a Range Rover. However, engineers emphasise that the third row best suits children of 13 or younger, although adults can use them at a pinch and entry/egress has been tested for adults of all sizes. 

With the third-row seats folded into the boot floor, load space is cavernous. Even with the third row erected, it is surprisingly spacious, yet every Sport has space for a compact spare wheel.

BODY AND CHASSIS

Like the Evoque, the Discovery Sport has a steel monocoque basic structure, but the engineers have done their best to improve rigidity and contain weight by increasing the use of high-strength steel. They’ve also followed a general Jaguar Land Rover trend by using aluminium for the Sport’s roof, wings, bonnet and tailgate.

The Sport is 4590mm long – 91mm longer overall and 80mm longer in the wheelbase than the Freelander. That seems relatively little growth in bulk given the impressive space increases in both the boot and rear compartments.

Land Rover’s director of programmes, Murray Dietsch, says engineers heeded calls from Freelander owners to provide more space in both areas. This required them to design both a new chassis/body structure from the centre pillars back, and the new multi-link suspension that eliminates the space-sapping suspension towers of the previous system. 

Like the existing strut front suspension, the new coil-sprung multi-link rear layout uses forged aluminium knuckles and links to save weight.

As a result of these and many other weight control measures, this new seven-seat SUV has a kerb weight of 1817kg – about the same as the slightly smaller, less spacious Freelander and a cool 800-900kg less than that of the ‘grown-up’ Discovery. 

The Sport’s new chassis package includes improved disc brakes all round, a new variable-ratio electric power steering system, the option of an autonomous emergency braking system (it sees obstacles that you don’t) and a new external airbag that aims to reduce the injuries of pedestrians thrown on to the bonnet in an accident.

The Sport also gets an enhanced Terrain Response system that makes the Sport “extremely good” in off-road situations, even compared with its big brothers in the range.

According to Dietsch, the Sport feels nimbler to drive than the Freelander, mostly because of its more sophisticated, more compliant rear suspension. “It rides like a Discovery should,” he says, “with the planted, stable feel the larger model has. But the fact that it’s so much lighter than Discovery 4 means it feels far more agile. But don’t just label it a sportier Discovery; it has a unique character of its own.” 

POWERTRAINS

From its UK launch in January, the Discovery Sport will be available with just one engine – the 188bhp 2.2 SD4 diesel also used by Peugeot-Citroën and Ford – and with four-wheel drive only. However, buyers can at least choose between a nine-speed ZF automatic and a six-speed manual gearbox. 

Later in 2015 – Land Rover isn’t saying precisely when – the Sport will get JLR’s all-new Wolverhampton-built diesel, badged ED4 and evidently good for about 150bhp in entry-level guise from its new Ingenium engine family, destined first for the new Jaguar XE.

The most frugal ED4 version will emit just 119g/km. At that stage, there will be two-wheel-drive versions of the Discovery Sport that, based on Evoque figures, should also shave 80kg off the Sport’s kerb weight. ED4-powered versions of the Discovery Sport will be priced below £30,000.

MARKETING

When the Discovery Sport hits the market on 22 January, there will be four trim levels: SE, SE Tech, HSE and HSE Luxury. The most luxurious will offer the same depth of equipment as the ritziest Range Rover. At that stage, you’ll still be able to buy a Freelander, but production will be about to end. 

By January, two of Land Rover’s three ‘model pillars’ – Discovery and Range Rover – will have started to take shape. Other models in each range are planned, but Land Rover will at this point also turn its attentions to the new Defender.

Read Autocar’s preview of the Discovery Sport with the men who made it

Blog: Is Land Rover leaving behind its core customers?

Read Autocar’s first ride in the Discovery Sport

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How the new Land Rover Discovery Sport was designed

We talk to Land Rover design boss Gerry McGovern and project director Murray Dietsch about the journey Land Rover’s new seven-seat SUV has taken from concept to productionLand Rover’s design boss, Gerry McGovern, says that with the new Discovery Sport his designers set out to create a luxurious environment with “unparalleled levels of versatility”.

We talked to McGovern about the thought processes, design ideas and reasoning behind the new seven-seat Land Rover Discovery Sport:

What takes precedence in the Discovery Sport, great design or great capability?   

“I’d say the capability was our killer priority. Others have great design, but Land Rovers have always had class leading functionality and always will. The big trick is in putting the two things together well. We’ve spent four years working out the best way to do it.”

What were the biggest design challenges?

“The Discovery Sport had to be bigger than a Freelander, but it also needed a sporty silhouette that disguised a cavernous interior. That was a pretty hard thing to do.

“What’s more, it had to look like it was capable of what it can do, which can be difficult with an off-roader whose capabilities are as broad as this one. The design’s got to be embedded in the car. It can’t just be the icing on the cake.”

Did that mean you had to make this big-selling model more generalist than other Land Rovers?

“We discussed that aspect a lot. You don’t want to lose your design roots, but equally, there’s no point producing a “Marmite” design and end up not selling enough cars. We opted to give the Discovery Sport a good deal of universal appeal; to make it look really good but try also to convey that it was really capable.”

Does that mean future full-size Discoverys will be more generalist? 

“Not necessarily. Their styling has always been quite polarising, yet they’ve been successful in the market. We did try expressing Discovery 4 values in a Sport, but it didn’t really work. So, since there had never been a Discovery in this size before, we felt we had permission to jump away a bit.”

Murray Dietsch, Land Rover’s director of programmes, has the major responsibility of replacing Land Rover’s million-selling Freelander with a Discovery Sport that customers will like even better. He explains the key steps:

How did you decide how to change the Freelander?

“First of all, we took a long look at what the customers needed. The first thing we learned was that it wasn’t going to be so easy beating the Freelander: we’re talking about a model that scored 47,000 sales in 2008, its best year.

“But we decided our customers needed something with a bit more capability, and a bit more room – but was still compact. That was the recipe.”

Which are the key changes?

“I believe it’s two things, the new rear suspension and the packaging, and one was a driver for the other. We added only 91mm to the total length of a Freelander – which means we’re still 39mm shorter than a five-seat Audi Q5, which is a pretty good benchmark – yet we have five-plus-two seating, plus class-leading boot space. We think it’s a great formula.”

Why was the new rear suspension so important?

“Two reasons: first, it removed the space-limiting suspension towers needed by the old strut-type suspension from the boot space, which made a world of difference. Second, it improved the way the car drives, both on and off-road.”

So this isn’t just a drive-to-school model, then?

“Far from it. It’ll certainly drive to school better than most – and it certainly has the accommodation for the job – but we think it’s better off-road that either a Freelander or an Evoque, for two reasons.

“The Evoque’s more attuned to the road, as you might expect, and the latest developments to Terrain Response mean it maintains traction and controls the wheels in low-traction situations even better than previous versions. It’s a good 4×4 – even against our most capable models.”

Read more about the Land Rover Discovery Sport

Blog: Is Land Rover leaving behind its core customers?

Read Autocar’s first ride in the new Discovery Sport

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Is Land Rover leaving behind its core market with the Discovery Sport?

With prices for the new seven-seat SUV starting north of £30,000, Land Rover could be at risk of alienating some of its customer baseJust in case you’re still confused, the new Land Rover Discovery Sport is the replacement for the Freelander. 

Why have they axed such a popular name? Because it was only ever popular in the UK. In key markets like the USA and China it has no traction whatsoever.

Aligning the ‘family man’s’ Land Rover to the Discovery family is rather a smart move too. Not least because it extracts this model from the potentially overpowering shadows of the hugely successful Evoque. 

The Disco Sport certainly doesn’t look or feel like a dowdier version of the baby Range Rover. It’s also got the advantage of having a brilliantly packaged third row of seats.

One question will be asked of the Disco Sport though. With prices now starting the wrong side of £30k, is Land Rover in danger of leaving behind what used to be the Freelander’s core audience?

Clearly this is the route to profitability and cementing yourself as a premium brand (and no question Land Rover is one) but disenfranchising even those who aspire to buying one could be dicey. Especially when Audi and BMW SUVs can be bought for thousands less. 

Let’s hope we’re wrong on that one and in the meantime celebrate another great looking, world class Land Rover. 

Read more about the Land Rover Discovery Sport

Read Autocar’s interview with the men who made the Discovery Sport

Read Autocar’s first ride in the Discovery Sport