April 1st revisit - Landwind Labrador Sport review: Quick drive

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Featuring a groundbreaking 12-volt mild-hybrid system and a style similar to the Land Rover Discovery Sport, we look back at our exclusive first look at the Landwind Labrador.
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For a bit of extra fun on April 1st, we'd like to take you back to when we had an exclusive first drive of the Landwind Labrador Sport.

The imported SUV shared a passing resemblance to the Land Rover Discovery Sport, and if rumour was correct, featured a groundbreaking 12-volt starter-generator mild-hybrid system...

Made famous by its near carbon copy of the Range Rover Evoque, Chinese automotive manufacturer Landwind is back, this time looking at export opportunities to the Australian market.

Landwind is owned by the Jiangling Motors group in China and produces a range SUVs for the local Chinese market. The legal backlash over the closeness in the design of the compact X7 SUV to five-door Range Rover Evoque has limited the brand’s opportunity for export to some countries.

It seems, however, Australia is still on the list.

Here, we take an exclusive first drive of the 2017 Landwind Labrador Sport.

The Labrador, named after a little-known character of the Chinese Zodiac, meaning one with a gentle nature for leading the blind, is a new design that we think bares a strong resemblance to the Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Now, the brand is no fool, and would likely not be so glaringly obvious in its design inspiration a second time, but even then, from the right angle, the similarities are there.

From a distance, at least, the Landwind looks to be quite similar to the Land Rover. The extra 1mm width and 3mm wheelbase barely perceptible from the outside.

Place them side-by-side, and the differences are immediately apparent.

The Landwind is obviously a larger car, but the design includes a hint of the Discovery Sport’s thick C-pillar and optional blacked-out roof, which is a standard feature of the Labrador.

It is, all things considered, a particularly stylish machine, with all proportions working remarkably well.

Up front, the interior layout is very clean, which extends to the interface of the media system.

The seats are impressively comfortable and the ergonomics are as good as anything from Europe.

The Landwind is still a seven-seater but takes an unorthodox 2:4:1 seating arrangement over the more traditional 2:3:2.

The extra width doesn’t do much to help, and we would expect running four-across in the middle to be quite tight.

A single seat in the back does make the best of the available boot space, which is 982-litres when running in six-seat configuration, and 698-litres with the seventh place deployed.

Under the skin, the Landwind has opted for a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, sourced from Japanese manufacturer, Suzuki. It is the same 66kW powerplant as found in the 2017 Suzuki Ignis.

To be honest, it leaves the Labrador reasonably underpowered, particularly at touring speeds.

Landwind does note the car is aimed at urban buyers who spend a great deal of time stuck in traffic, and so outright performance is less of an issue than emissions, which are low with CO2 output noted at 104g/km travelled.

The ride, though, is exceptionally good for a vehicle from a new brand.

Once up to pace, it feels just as solid and composed as the Land Rover it might be mistaken for. An impressive effort indeed.

While the 2017 Landwind Labrador Sport is not yet confirmed for Australia, we are excited at just how far the brand has moved forward, and hope to be learning more about the car in the coming months.

If successfully introduced, pricing is expected to start around the $56,000 mark.

Do you think this is a solid effort by a new manufacturer? Can you see the similarity to the Land Rover in the design? Would you consider one?
Just a reminder that this was published on April 1st, 2017. Shall let that sit for a moment...

Let us know in the comments below.