Land Rover Discovery Sport (2015-2019) review
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is a practical and comfy family SUV that’s available with seven seats. It’s incredible off-road, but the interior has some cheap-feeling materials
What's not so good
Land Rover Discovery Sport (2015-2019): what would you like to read next?
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is a proper Jack of all trades: a seven-seat SUV that will swallow your family and its luggage, but with enough off-road ability to get across the kind of terrain that would stop many a 4×4 in its tracks.
It’s a handsome and stylish car, too, with those slim headlights and the swept-back windscreen making it look very sleek for a Land Rover. However, it isn’t quite as downright trendy and fashionable as the Audi Q5 or Mercedes GLC.
If you want to find out more about the new car, 2020 Land Rover Discovery price, specs and release date news story.
The Land Rover’s interior looks good but doesn’t have quite the same sense of quality that you’ll find in the Audi or Mercedes. Not only do some of the materials feel relatively cheap, the standard infotainment system is rather dated. It’s certainly worth upgrading to the optional InControl Touch Pro system, which has a sharp and responsive screen, and gives the cabin a real high-tech lift – although it’s still not as good as the equivalent systems in alternative German SUVs.
On the other hand, there are no complaints about how easy it all is to use. Given the Land Rover Discovery Sport is a rough and tough off-roader, the chunky air-con controls suit it perfectly; and, as you sit even higher than in the Audi or Mercedes, you get a good view out and feel really secure.
Practicality is another big plus point, thanks to the Discovery Sport giving you the option of seven seats. Mind you, even Land Rover itself only refers to this as having ‘5+2’ seats, so you can’t expect it to be a full-on people-carrier. Still, the rearmost seats are big enough to take a couple of kids; and, although the boot is pretty small when you’re using all seven seats, if you fold down the third row of seats, you end up with a huge boot that is easy to load and will happily take lots of square boxes or enough luggage for a long family holiday.
If you do take the family away, all the stowage around the cabin will come in very handy. You get big doorbins and a decent glovebox, while there are a couple of cupholders and a deep cubby in the centre console.
If the Audi Q5 is a brogue, the Discovery Sport is a sturdy walking boot – it’s not as stylish, but it’ll cope a lot better on rough terrain
Despite what the name may suggest, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is not a particularly sporty car and not really suited to blasting across country, as it leans more in bends than an Audi Q5 when you’re going quickly. It’s also not that great around town, as you feel plenty of bumps in the road, but once you’re up above 30mph, it’s much more comfortable.
Overall, you’ll find it much more at home driving on the motorway – not least because the cabin is so quiet and you get a great view out of the windows, thanks to the high seating position.
Look in the rear-view mirror, however, and the view isn’t so good. The thick pillars either side of the back window mean you have to rely on rear parking sensors for most manoeuvres – thankfully they’re standard on SE models and above – and it’s well worth considering the £355 rear-view camera, given how big the Land Rover Discovery Sport is.
When it comes to the range of engines, again that ‘Sport’ name is rather misleading, as the acceleration is adequate rather than rapid. The best bet is the 180hp version of the 2.0-litre diesel – it’s available with seven seats and has the same fuel economy as the slower 150hp version of the same engine. Pick the automatic gearbox, too – it makes life a lot easier and takes some of the stress out of driving.
The added traction and reassurance of four-wheel drive is standard on all but the cheapest 150hp eD4 models, and a Land Rover without all-wheel-drive is like a quartz-powered Rolex – it just misses the point.
More reassurance comes in the shape of a maximum five-star Euro NCAP crash-test score from 2014. And, although the tests themselves have got tougher since then, you do get automatic emergency braking as standard on all models to help reduce the chance of low-speed crashes – meaning that the Land Rover Discovery Sport is a safe, practical place for you and your family.
In five-seat mode there’s plenty of space for adults to get comfy and loads of room in the Land Rover Discovery Sport’s boot. Sadly, the sixth and seventh seats are only really suitable for kids
You'll have to fold the Discovery Sport's seats down manually but with them out of the way there's room in the boot for a pair of mountain bikes
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is a comfortable car to travel in, especially with only five seats in use. Passengers jammed in the two tiny rear-most seats on seven-seater models, however, won’t be so pleased – they’re best left for small children. You’ll need to squeeze yourself into the sixth and seventh seats too, but you can free up a little extra legroom by sliding the middle row forwards.
Front-seat passengers have lots of headroom and it’s easy to get a comfortable driving position thanks to a fully adjustable steering wheel and a standard-fit armrest that’s perfectly placed for your elbow. It’s worth noting that part-leather seats are standard on all versions of the Land Rover Discovery Sport, and HSE versions and above get full leather.
Passengers in the middle row of seats can slide backwards and forwards to improve either their legroom or that of the people in the very back row. You can also recline the middle seats for more comfort and can comfortably carry three people side-by-side because there’s not much of a hump in the floor, permitting enough room for everyone’s feet – although the five-seat-only Ford Edge is roomier if you regularly carry three in the back.
Fitting a child seat is easy thanks to wide-opening rear doors and the fact you don’t have to stoop to fit the seat, unlike lower hatchbacks or saloons. There’s a clearly marked tether on each of the outer-middle-row seats, but it’s easy to lose the removable plastic covers that hide the Isofix child-seat anchor points.
There’s a vast door bin in each of the Land Rover Discovery Sport‘s four doors, and each is big enough to fit a two-litre bottle of water. There’s also a sizeable glovebox and even a handy storage shelf above it.
Each passenger gets their own cupholder and you can remove the one in the centre armrest to create even more storage space. There’s even enough room for a few snacks in a tray built into the rear centre armrest, and all three rows of seats feature an array of 12-volt sockets and USB outputs so your passengers can charge their mobile devices instead of talking to each other – heaven forbid!
In seven-seat models with all seats up, the Land Rover Discovery Sport‘s 194-litre boot is only big enough to carry a modest weekly shop. Fold the two rear seats down and the 981-litre space (measured to the roof – most other car manufacturers measure to the parcel shelf) is big enough to fit several large suitcases. If you fold the middle row of seats down, you’re left with a 1,698-litre space that’s easily big enough to fit a bicycle without removing any wheels.
The boot also has some tethering points to tie down loads and it’s a nice square shape with a low loading lip, so it’s easy to lift luggage into – or for dogs to jump into the back of.
Be aware that five-seat versions of the Land Rover Discovery Sport offer a little extra underfloor storage in the boot. Seven-seat models use this space to house the sixth and seventh seats when folded but still offer plenty of storage room. Folding the seats is manual, unlike the electrically powered system in the larger Discovery, but the simple pull straps behind the seats are fairly easy to operate.
It’s a comfortable car to drive for long distances and the high driving position makes you feel secure, but the Land Rover Discovery Sport only comes with a diesel engine and the view out the back isn’t great
The engine is good enough, it just isn’t as good as you get in similar cars from German manufacturers
In terms of engines, the Land Rover Discovery Sport comes with two options – a 2.0-litre diesel with 150hp, or the same engine but with 180hp. Both versions get four-wheel drive as standard and use either a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic gearbox – though you need the 180hp version if you want seven seats.
Both versions of the 2.0-litre diesel engine are relatively quiet on the move, but the 2.0-litre diesel in an Audi Q5 is still a more hushed and pleasing engine to use.
The entry-level 150hp diesel engine is only offered with the firm’s notchy six-speed manual gearbox and a five-seat layout exclusively. The more powerful 180hp version gets the option of the much better nine-speed automatic gearbox, which changes gears smoothly and takes the stress out of driving.
Fuel economy is decent too, considering it’s quite a heavy car with a fuel-sapping four-wheel-drive system. The 150hp model claims to return 58mpg while 180hp Land Rover Discovery Sports return 53mpg. In comparison, a 190hp Audi Q5 returns 55mpg, a 170hp Mercedes GLC gets 57mpg and a 190hp BMW X3 averages 54mpg. The 180hp version is the best bet because it feels more relaxed during overtakes, is the only version offered with seven seats and can be fitted with the optional automatic gearbox.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is a comfortable car to drive. There’s not much wind noise in the cabin and the car’s suspension soaks up the worst of bumps on the motorway. Things aren’t as smooth around town, however, because the suspension doesn’t iron out potholes and rough surfaces so well at slower speeds.
Despite its size and height, the Discovery Sport is quite easy to drive in town thanks to a seating position that’s a little higher than the Mercedes GLC and Audi Q5. This means you have a good view over other cars and get a clearer idea of where the car’s corners are. The view out the back, however, isn’t brilliant so you’ll need to use the rear parking sensors – standard on SE models and up – for tight manoeuvres. All models come with automatic emergency braking, so the chances of having a low-speed collision should be almost nil. The Land Rover Discovery Sport got a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating when it was tested in 2014, although the test is more stringent today.
Off-road performance is incredibly impressive with good ground clearance, a grippy four-wheel-drive system and clever electronics that keep you moving. The firm’s All Terrain Response Control acts as a low-speed cruise control pulling you up hills, down slopes and even crawling over rocks without you having to touch the pedals. The Discovery Sport can also drive through water up to 60cm deep and there’s an optional wade sensor that can tell you how deep the water around your car is – but it’s probably best left on the options list unless you often have to cross a river to get to the shops.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport’s interior comes with a simple, logical design but the quality of the materials used is a bit hit and miss