Land Rover Discovery Sport

Seven-seat 4x4 SUV is a great go-anywhere family car

8.2
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 18 reviews
  • Attractive interior
  • Fine handling
  • Practicality
  • Engine lacks refinement
  • Expensive options
  • Fuel economy lags behind rivals
 

£31,095 - £46,510 Price range

 

5 - 7 Seats

 

53 - 57 MPG

Review

The Land Rover Discovery Sport is a mid-size seven-seater SUV with proper off-road ability and a spacious interior. Its main rivals are the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC – all five-seaters only – as well as the seven-seater Skoda Kodiaq that undercuts the Disco Sport by a substantial amount.

Inside, it’s more functional than posh and the materials have a very durable feel. The 2017 model can be equipped with the latest InControl Pro infotainment system that is a huge upgrade over the old Land Rover system. The two additional seats in the back along with the practical boot boost the Discovery Sport’s school-run credentials.

Driving on and off the road is where this Land Rover 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 only a little tyre and wind noise inside, making it a capable long-distance cruiser.

The Discovery Sport can be equipped with two versions of the same 2.0-litre diesel paired to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Even if it’s a better engine than the 2.2-litre it replaced and more economical on fuel than rivals, it’s not as refined as what the competition has to offer.

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.

Land Rover chose to focus on functionality first and foremost with the Discovery Sport’s interior, leaving the posher Range Rover models to get the more stylish materials. It’s a fuss-free cabin, but ultimately a Mercedes GLC feels more special inside.

That isn’t to say that the Discovery Sport isn’t nice inside – the cabin materials are still high quality and all models come with an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

Land Rover Discovery Sport infotainment

The standard system is alright, but it’s not the slickest among rivals. A much better bet is upgrading to the Pro infotainment system – the screen stretches to 10.2 inches and it’s super quick to respond, courtesy of a laptop-grade processor. Not only that but the graphics are lovely and the menu structure is very similar to a smartphone, so it’s easy to navigate too. The postcode lookup is also impressively quick – in fact, the Pro system is one of the best touchscreens on the market.

Neither the standard nor the Pro infotainment system supports Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Land Rover has said it is coming, but not when. In the meantime, you can use the InControl apps available from the Android and Apple app store. One of those cool apps is the door-to-door routing – you set your destination in the car, as usual, but once you arrive at your destination, the map and directions are transferred onto your phone so you can continue on foot right up to the door. It’s a useful feature that should make finding that new restaurant you wanted to check out that bit easier.

Land Rover Discovery Sport passenger space

The seats are supportive and comfortable, while the driving position is spot-on. There are plenty of places to stow your stuff with a large glovebox and door bins that can easily swallow a 1.5-litre bottle of water.

Those in the back find things equally well trimmed, with a slightly raised position allowing for great visibility, even for children. Buyers can fit a £2,075 full entertainment package to the backs of the front headrests to keep their offspring entertained on a long journey and as standard there are a couple of charging ports for passengers’ electronic devices.

The third row of seats is acceptable for adults on short journeys, but, just like the Skoda Kodiaq, it can’t really be considered a full-size seven-seater. For more facts and figures about interior space head on over to our dimensions guide and colour guides.

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, the sliding middle row means you can choose between a huge boot or generous rear legroom.

You get a maximum of 981 litres of space (that’s measured up to the roof, whereas rivals calculate to the bottom of the windows) with five seats up and with them all down on the floor the capacity grows to 1,698 litres.

There’s no load lip to carry luggage over and the shape of the boot is square, making it easy to load soft bags or a baby stroller, but there’s also no underfloor storage and nowhere to put the parcel shelf when all seven seats are in use.

The Discovery Sport is a great car to drive. The ride is somewhat firm but more cosseting than the smaller Evoque. 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 taken at a relaxed pace.

Refinement is excellent. Wind noise is minimal considering the car is so large and there is virtually no tyre roar. The 2.0-litre diesel engine makes a modest rumble on hard acceleration but settles into the background when cruising.

In fact, the only weak link on road is the insulation around the windows. As you drive, you tend to notice the sounds of surrounding traffic. 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 – thanks largely to its 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 amateurs.

Land Rover has put its new aluminium 2.0-litre diesel in the Discovery Sport. There are two power levels to choose from – an 180hp version and a 150hp one called E-Capability that can only be ordered as a two-wheel drive manual.

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 emit 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.

Unlike the majority of rivals, the Discovery Sport is a proper off-roader. It has plenty of trick electronics that help it traverse the sort of terrain that would leave BMWs and Audis in floods of tears. Or just floods.

The impressive adhesion on almost any surface comes courtesy of the advanced four-wheel drive system called Terrain Response. You just pick what kind of surface you’re driving on and the car does the rest – it’s really impressive the places it can reach without asking too much of the driver. Even descending steep hills is easy – you simply engage the hill-descent control, take your foot off the pedals and let the car simply crawl back down.

Land Rover Discovery Sport SE and SE Tech

With a starting price north of £30,000, the Discovery Sport in entry SE trim comes with plenty of equipment. There’s partial leather upholstery inside with heating for the front seats, climate control, an infotainment system with DAB functionality plus a 10-speaker audio system. SE Tech adds to that, well, adds more technology in the form of rain-sensing windscreen wipers, keyless entry, automatic headlights, parking sensors, a powered boot lid and front fog lights. The problem is, with its small wheels, this entry-level model isn’t that eye-catching to look at.

Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE and HSE Luxury

Move up to the HSE trim level and the wheel size rises to 19 inches and you also get better-looking outside trim such as the front scuff plate that’s painted in silver. Inside, you get full leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, Xenon headlights and a subwoofer for the stereo. The HSE Luxury trim brings memory adjustable seats with heating and cooling, illuminated tread plates for that dignified night entry, mood lighting and 20-inch wheels. There’s also a HSE Black which paints the wheels along with a selection of exterior details in gloss black and adds privacy glass.

Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE Dynamic Lux

The price gap between the entry-level SE and this top-of-the-range HSE Dynamic Lux model is substantial so it’s no surprise there’s hardly anything missing from the standard equipment. The whole exterior appearance is a bit different thanks to redesigned bumpers and a red badge, while the interior gets contrasting stitching along with aluminium pedals and shift paddles.

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 £45-50,000. No official details have been released but it is possible it will use a turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing as much as 300hp.

Conclusion

The Discovery Sport 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. And it looks handsome 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 claim is as good on road as it is off it.

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