Built alongside stable mate the Range Rover Evoque at Halewood on Merseyside, the Land Rover Discovery Sport range was updated in 2020. Land Rover have invested an awful lot of time & money in building a new Disco Sport, adding fresh styling, better on-board tech, higher quality finishes & most importantly a range of more fuel efficient mild-hybrid engines to it’s baby, plus a Discovery Sport EV. And, it was this new EV in the form of the plug-in-hybrid P300e, that we got to drive recently.
Land Rover believe that by offering a plug-in version of its SUV ranges, they will increase the appeal of their model’s to company car drivers. With only 10% BIK applicable on the Disco Sport PHEV, that should definitely be the case, as the cheapest Disco Sport ICE version attracts over 30% benefit in kind. The only compromise, is that all plug-in versions are only available as five-seaters, which we think is a small price to pay for those considerable tax savings.
The plug-in features a three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, plus an electric motor that’s located in the rear axle. This gives the Disco Sport a pure electric range of 38 miles. Whilst the 1.5 petrol engine offers a decent 200PS, it’s the extra 109PS courtesy of the 15kWh battery that really makes the difference, offering 540Nm of torque, enabling the 150kg heavier plug-in, to feel nimble. Indeed, it’s no slouch hitting 60mph in just 6.2 seconds with a top speed of 130mph.
Model range & equipment
The plug-in Disco Sport is offered across two models; Urban Edition, or R-Dynamic S, or SE
Urban Edition features a 10″touchscreen, cruise control & speed limiter, Lane Keep Assist, front & rear parking aid, LED headlights, 20″ alloys, 12-way heated electric front seats, AppleCar Play & Android Auto, privacy glass, a fixed panoramic roof & Pivi Pro with connected Nav.
R-Dynamic S & SE add premium LED headlights with signature DRL, automatic headlight levelling, Auto high beam Assist, 20″ dark satin wheels, interactive driver display, Blind Spot Assist Pack consisting of Blind Spot Assist, Clear Exit Monitor & Rear Traffic Monitor.
The electric powertrain doesn’t affect the Disco Sport’s 4WD abilities. All PHEV models come with features that will take you off-road; Terrain Response, All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC), Low Traction Launch, Hill Descent Control (HDC), Torque Vectoring by Braking, Passive suspension & Hill Launch Assist.
You’ll need to squint hard to notice the tweaks to the outside of the Discovery Sport. New front & rear LED light clusters, an oblong shaped fuel cap & a redesigned front bumper, are the only real changes. It’s still though, unmistakably a Land Rover & looks attractive from every angle.
Interior space & practicality
The cabin is much improved over it’s predecessor. Better quality finishes adorn all of the surfaces, even those lower down such as the door pockets & seat sides. Useful storage comes in the form of four door pockets, a cubby under the centre armrest, two cup holders, twin USB’s & a useful sized glove box. There’s acres of room up front, as well as in the rear, where three adults will fit in comfortably. Rear passengers also benefit from a fold down armrest which contains two cups holders & a there’s also a single USB socket.
Thanks to the battery located under the floor, the boot capacity is slightly lower on the plug-in than in the petrol or diesel versions. It still though offers a whopping 963 litres, increasing to a maximum of 1,574 litres when you fold the rear seats down. Land Rover measures its cars’ boot capacities right to the roofline, rather than the window line, which most other car brands do, so these figures may be slightly on the high side.
Charging & battery range
The plug-in Disco Sport’s 15kWh battery takes around 2 hours 15 minutes to charge from empty on a standard home 7.2kWh charger, making it a cinch to home charge. Using the Pre-Conditioning function, you can pre-programme the car to begin & end charging when you want, enabling you to take advantage of cheaper overnight electricity rates offered by the likes of Octopus Go, who charge just 5p a kWh from 00.30am to 04.30 am. That means it will cost you just 75p to charge the battery from zero to full.
Land Rover claim that the Disco Sport PHEV offers up to a 38 mile pure electric range. Via the touchscreen, you can save your EV charge to prevent it disappearing very quickly when you get up to motorway speeds. It’s far better in our experience, to utilise the electric range whilst driving at 30mph or slower, where you’ll get the most miles from the battery.
Official overall fuel economy falls between, 175.5 & 143.3 mpg, which we would say is nigh on impossible to achieve, unless you only drive in EV over shorter distances. 40-50 mpg is more likely, dependant on road conditions & exterior weather.
For the first few days, making short, local journey’s, I was able to drive in EV mode only, one of three driving modes offered. EV allows you to drive on battery power alone, perfect to use in stop-start city traffic. Then there’s Hybrid, allowing the car to decide whether to run on battery power alone or mix electric & petrol power. There’s also an EV function, in which you can save the battery charge, meaning the car will run on petrol only & in this instance, if you select Eco mode, will help to increase the petrol-only range.
We were testing the P300 e SE R-Dynamic, which costs from £49,210 OTR.
With many plug-in hybrids, the extra weight of the battery, (in the Disco Sports case, 150kg) can make for more stodgy handling. This isn’t the case with the plug-in version at all. Thanks to the combined 309PS of the petrol engine & battery, the Discovery Sport just glides along quietly, whether in Hybrid or EV mode. Only when you push the accelerator down hard does the petrol engine growl into life & it’s quite an enjoyable noise when it does.
After some short, local journeys on my own, as a family, we undertook a 350 mile round trip to the North East in the Discovery Sport & it didn’t disappoint. The cabin is spacious & comfortable, the boot swallowed all of our gear – the Walkers don’t travel lightly – & we arrived at our destination unflustered, averaging an impressive 42mpg on the way. We encountered a 20 mile queue of stop/start traffic on the A1 south of Durham. Here I was able to initiate the EV mode, to utilise the battery range, which really helped our fuel economy. When you’re forced to drive slowly, that’s when a plug-in makes an awful lot of sense.
On our return journey, we encountered heavy rain almost all of the way home. The Disco Sport didn’t skip a beat & despite the treacherous road conditions, everything was calm inside the cabin. Adaptive cruise control is a blessing in bad weather, allowing the driver to drive a safe distance from any vehicle in front. It was fitted to our test car & I suspect that one day soon, all cars will have this.
The Disco Sport not only features a spacious cabin, it’s incredibly practical, extremely versatile both off road & on, comes very well made & it’s cheaper than a Range Rover Evoque whilst offering Range Rover Velar space. And, for company car drivers, the CO2’s of just44g/km, mean that you can’t look past the 10% BIK either.
Only offered as a five-seater. The dashboard is not as nice as the one found in the Evoque or the Velar. The claimed fuel economy of around 150mpg would be a stretch for many. The more you drive in EV mode, travel only over a short distance, don’t drive much over 30mph & charge your car every chance you can get, the more likely you are to see anything close to this return.
Up against the competition from the premium German brands, who have been terribly slow to offer electric or plug-in SUV’s, the Discovery Sport is a very safe bet.
Whilst Mercedes now have two fully electric SUV’s & BMW one coming shortly, Audi’s Q5 plug-in is the only real direct competitor, save for the brands own Range Rover Evoque & Velar or the Jaguar F-Pace plug-in’s.
We know that full-EV’s are coming & at present, carry just 1% BIK for company car drivers. But for many, the comfort of a 400 mile petrol range, coupled to a 30 mile electric range, makes the plug-in Discovery Sport a great compromise, especially if you need a large & practical go-anywhere SUV.