£31,095 - £46,510 Price range
5 - 7 Seats
53 - 57 MPG
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is the long-awaited replacement for the Freelander. It was a small crossover SUV built years before other car makers decided to get in on the act. The Discovery Sport’s main rivals are the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC.
Don’t expect to see the same luxury materials in the interior that you’d find in an Evoque – the Disco Sport is more functional than posh. Anyone can find a comfortable position in the Discovery, though, because the seats and the steering offer a lot of adjustment. The two additional seats in the back help the Discovery Sport stand out from its rivals.
Driving on and off the road is where the Discovery Sport excels – it handles twisty roads well and with a clever four-wheel-drive system (and short overhangs) it is one of the best off-roaders in its class. The car’s interior is also quiet – there is little tyre and wind noise inside, making it a capable long-distance cruiser.
The first batch of Discovery Sports were offered with the 2.2-litre diesel borrowed from Ford. It was described by testers as noisy and dated. Now, the SUV can be equipped with two versions of the same inhouse built 2.0-litre diesel. Reviewers unanimously think that this is a much better engine especially when paired with the new nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Standard equipment is decent, but the Discovery Sport is expensive. You get partial leather heated seats and a touch-screen infotainment system, but you’ll have to pay extra for sat-nav.
Cheapest to buy: 2.2-litre SE Diesel
Cheapest to run: 2.2-litre HSE Diesel
Fastest model: 2.2-litre HSE Luxury Diesel
Most popular: 2.2-litre SE Tech Diesel
Land Rover chose to focus on functionality first and foremost with the Discovery Sport interior, leaving the posher Range Rover models to get the more stylish updates. That isn’t to say that the Discovery Sport is bland by any means – testers note that the cabin materials are still high quality and all models come with an eight-inch touchscreen.
Land Rover Discovery Sport passenger space
The seats are supportive and comfortable, while the driving position is described as “spot-on” by reviewers. Those in the back find things equally well trimmed, with a slightly raised position allowing for great visibility, even for children. Buyers can elect to fit a full entertainment package to the backs of the front headrests to keep their offspring entertained on a long journey.
The third row of seats is acceptable for adults on short journeys, but it can’t really be considered a full-size seven-seater. The Discovery Sport is much bigger on the inside than what the outside suggests, head to our dimensions guide to see how Land Rover squeeze in seven seats.
Land Rover Discovery Sport boot space
With all the seats in place, the boot is almost non-existent. However, with the rear row folded away, a choice can be made between a huge rear boot or generous rear legroom – or a combination of the two. You get a maximum of 981 litres of space with five seats up and with them all down on the floor the capacity grows to 1,698 litres.
The Discovery Sport is a great car to drive. The ride is somewhat firm, but more cosseting than the smaller Evoque. Compared to Jaguars that use similar platforms, the extra ride height translates into a softer ride that’ll suit families better. Despite this, it resists body roll well and always feels settled and stable on the move – only a sudden emergency lane change causes the car to reveal its height and lofty centre of gravity.
Its steering is particularly good being exceptionally responsive when turning into corners lending the Discovery Sport a sense of agility that’s uncommon in the class. It grips tenaciously through corners and, provided you avoid sudden changes of direction, manages to be fun to drive on twisty country roads.
Refinement is excellent. Wind noise is minimal considering the car is so large, there is virtually no tyre roar and even the largest of potholes only register as a distant thump. The introduction of the new 2.0-litre diesel engine has significantly boosted refinement compared to the old 2.2-litre unit. It’s makes a modest rumble on hard acceleration but settles into the background when just cruising.
In fact, the only weak link when on the road is the insulation around the windows. As you drive, you tend to notice the sounds of surrounding traffic more than the noises the Discovery Sport is making. This is a minor issue, however, and the Discovery Sport is generally a very nice place to while away the miles.
It should prove to be the best off-roader in this class by some margin. This is thanks largely to short front and rear overhangs, and an advanced four-wheel-drive system that can find grip in the trickiest of conditions and is easy to use even for amateur off-roaders.
Land Rover has put its new aluminium 2.0-litre diesel in the Discovery Sport. There are two power levels to choose from – a 180hp version and a 150hp one called E-Capability that can only be ordered as a two-wheel drive manual.
Land Rover Discovery Sport specifications
The diesel beats rivals on fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions – the E-Capability can achieve fuel economy of 57.7mpg and emits 129g/km meaning an annual tax bill of £110. Think long and hard about choosing it, though. To save weight, and thus boost fuel economy, it does without the extra pair of seats in the back and can only be had with a manual gearbox.
The more powerful version can complete the 0-62mph sprint in 8.4 seconds while still returning a reasonable 53.3mpg and emitting 139g/km of CO2 means it’ll cost £130 to tax per year. The 52.3mpg offered by the equivalent BMW X3 20d showcase how modern and efficient the new engine is. It feels easily strong enough to keep the Discovery Sport in line with modern traffic but doesn’t feel quite as punchy as the less refined unit in the BMW X3. It makes a better cruiser than it does pseudo-sports car.
The nine-speed automatic gearbox shifts gear smoothly and generally knows what ratio to be in. Nine forward speeds could be deemed a little excessive, however, and it can hunt around if you’re coming on and off the throttle in traffic. A six-speed manual is also available and costs £1,800 less but is best avoided. It has an overly-sprung action, very inconsistent clutch weighting and, compared to the slick auto, adds a whole second onto the 0-62mph time.
The Discovery Sport received the maximum five-star rating from Euro NCAP. Featuring safety tech that is all-new to Land Rover, it is equipped with both a pedestrian airbag which pops out of the bonnet, and an autonomous emergency braking system.
Beyond this, the usual range of interior airbags feature, as do the electronic driver assists, which stop the car from spinning during emergency manoeuvres.
Some of the testers question whether or not the Discovery Sport represents good value or not. Prices start at £32,000 (and will start at just under £30,000 when the front-wheel drive model is introduced) but with options added, prices can get very steep indeed.
Land Rover Discovery Sport SVR
A faster version of the Discovery Sport has been spotted undergoing winter testing. This model, likely badged as an ‘SVR’, will probably go on sale in 2018 priced at approximately £45,000 to £50,000. No official details have been released but it is possible it will use a turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing as much as 300hp.
The Discovery Sport has received praise from all angles, with only the soon-to-be-replaced engine a let down at the moment. It handles excellently without sacrificing comfort, it is practical and robust inside, and for those who ever need it, it’ll do the off-roading bit very well too.
To our eyes it looks handsome too, both inside and out. As long as you don’t go too crazy with the options, this is certainly a car that Land Rover can once again claim to be a class leader. For help with what color combination to choose for your new Discovery Sport head over to our colour guide.
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