When Land Rover first launched the Discovery model in the late 1980’s, they could not possibly have imagined how over the next quarter of a century the landscape for 4X4’s would change. Now known as SUV’s, with many not even 4WD, they are now available in small, medium & large to suit everyone’s needs. They also dominate the car manufacturer’s thinking, with pretty much every franchise having their version.
The Discovery Sport is Land Rover’s medium sized SUV. It’s larger, more comfortable, is higher quality & is also far more practical than it’s predecessor the Freelander & even comes with a seven-seat layout. It competes with the Audi Q5, BMW X3 & new Jaguar F-Pace, as well as the Range Rover Evoque, with which it shares it’s chassis as well as much of it’s switchgear. The baby Range Rover though is smaller, the key difference being the adoption of an all-new multi-link rear suspension set-up in the Discovery Sport that has allowed customers to benefit from that third row of seats.
First & foremost, your average premium branded SUV has to look good & Land Rover have managed to make the new Disco Sport look fantastic, from every angle. At the front, there’s a stylish grille & at the rear, Range Rover-esque light clusters. The headlamps feature crosshair-style LED daytime running lights & the tail-lamps get a similar treatment. Climb inside & the quality continues, with the utilitarian insides of Land Rovers of old replaced in favour of top-notch leather, soft touch plastics & a really tasteful design.
Land Rover lent CCV the HSE Luxury model to road test, which is powered by the 2 litreTD4 diesel engine, fitted with an automatic 9-speed transmission gear box, producing 180bhp.Top speed is 117mph with 0-62mph achieved in just 8.4 seconds. The auto box is excellent & the power delivery smooth. On the motorway the Disco Sport cruises quietly, whilst in town or on smaller roads it handles nicely, taking in traffic jams & tight corners with equal aplomb. It may look a little cumbersome, but to drive it is to realise that it’s actually light on it’s feet. There’s also plenty of room in the cabin & five adults will sit comfortably inside the Sport.
The auto model comes with the rotary gear selector, which is lifted from the Jaguar XF . This pops up from the centre console, allowing you to twist to select your gear. The dials in front of the driver are recognisable from the Evoque. An electric handbrake frees up space on the transmission tunnel which allows for a pair of lidded storage boxes for odds & sods & there’s also a small tray set into the dashboard ahead of the front seat passenger, where I left my car keys.
If you need an occasional 7-seater, the two individual rear seats 6 & 7, lie flat into the boot floor & can be lifted out of the floor of the boot in one movement if required. You can also adjust the middle row of back seats back & forth, which allows for easier rear access or increases passenger legroom. Don’t get too excited by the two extra seats though, as they’re not really big enough for adults. With these seats flat to the floor you get a whopping 981 litres of boot space which increases to a whopping 1,698 if you fold the rear bench seats down as well.
Being a Land Rover, the HSE Luxury come with a high level of equipment . Even the entry level SE model, comes with heated seats, part-leather upholstery, climate control, alloy wheels, Bluetooth & a DAB radio.
HSE trim adds full leather upholstery, keyless entry, electric seats, a reversing camera & a panoramic sunroof. Spend a bit more for my test model, the HSE Luxury & you can add a self parking function, heated/cooled Windsor leather front seats, lane departure warning, a powered tailgate, a TFT screen & automatic high beam assist.
If you like a clear, concise user friendly infotainment system, then you won’t be disappointed in the Sport. The 8″ high-res screen has a simple to use touchscreen, which is clearly laid out & includes full 3D mapping. The sound from this system inside the cabin is excellent, coming as it does via a ten speaker sound system. There’s also a function which allows the front seat passenger to watch the a film or watch TV on one side of the screen, whilst the driver can use the SatNav system on the other. There’s also a set of wireless headphones.
Standard safety kit is impressive & includes nine airbags, ESP, two ISOFIX points, automatic collision prevention braking & anti-lock brakes. The Disco Sport comes with standard all weather tyres, which offer safer road handling than normal road tyres as well.
Going back to it’s roots & where the Land Rover really excels is as an off-road vehicle. Higher ground clearance, gives the driver more confidence as does the Terrain Response System, which allows the driver to adapt the 4WD traction control to choose specific driving modes; Normal, Mud, Sand, Rocks & Snow can all be chosen dependant on your requirements. Add in hill descent control, a wading depth of 600mm, plenty of ground clearance at the front & rear plus excellent approach & departure angles & if you need a serious off-roader, the Disco Sport is hard to beat.
The 2.0-litre TD4 Ingenium diesel 178bhp although smooth & quiet is not especially frugal. The claimed combined fuel economy is 53.3 mpg, but the combination of the models all 4WD, coupled with an auto box left me staring at a combined fuel economy of just 32.2mpg. Throw in the HSE Luxury’s price, which for my test model was £43,000 & it’s obvious, that this is not a cheap car to buy or to run. Land Rover is after all, a premium brand.
I spent a week driving the Disco Sport & it was a pleasure. It feels lighter & smaller than it actually is. It’s quietness is a pleasant surprise & it’s also incredibly comfortable, with a great all-around view of the road. My passengers enjoyed the goodies on offer & the boot was more than large enough to accommodate everything our family required. The interior also felt & looked hard wearing. Although my family & I do not require a vehicle that’s as capable as the Disco Sport, we could all clearly see it’s usefulness for those who would.
Despite it’s relatively poor fuel economy & high asking price, the Discovery Sport is actually a very hard car no to like, thanks to it’s combination of good looks, high quality & superb practicality, the new Disco Sport really is a class above any Land Rover you’ve had before.
If you need a go anywhere , do anything off roader that also offers premium quality, then the Disco Sport will tick all of your boxes.
A United Kingdom 4/5