It is billed as the world’s most versatile premium compact SUV, but can the Discovery Sport cope with a cake run in the Cotswolds? Max Adams takes it on a short test drive to find out.
The Discovery Sport replaces the Freelander, a vehicle which had become more of a mini Range Rover towards the end of its life. The Discovery Sport is pitched more as a family car, for those who need a vehicle with extra space but don’t want to drive an MPV. Plus, the additional practicality of having two extra seats has moved it far enough away from the Range Rover ‘lite’ Evoque to risk cannibalising its sales.
With arms full of promotional material and baked goods, it was time to load this precious cargo. Land Rover has paid a lot of attention to the interior of this SUV, right down to the face-level ventilation in the second and (optional) third row, plus USB charging points for all occupants (another option). The middle bench can slide forwards or backwards to aid leg room, and access to the rear is made easier by pulling just one lever. The movement is a bit stiff so children may need assistance. The last two chairs can be erected by pulling one strap and have their own headrests. The downside is rather limited boot space of just 194 litres with all seats in place. This can be boosted to a much more capacious 981 litres when arranged as a five-seater with the middle seats rolled forwards. I played it safe and belted up the confections on the back seat.
The front occupants are treated to a functional but well-made dashboard which features a standard 8” touchscreen on all models. But be warned, the standard InControl Touch system doesn’t include satellite navigation unless you go for the SE Tech trim level or higher. Even then, it is slow and unhelpful. To get the best out of Land Rover’s InControl multimedia and connectivity suite, you must spend £1900 on their Entertainment pack, which also gets you a T.V function and an upgraded 16-speaker Meridian™ surround sound system. The rest of the cabin is well laid out, with the now familiar Terrain Response system arranged as a row of buttons below the chunky heating and ventilation controls.
Power for the Discovery Sport is provided by one engine, a 2.0 Ingenium diesel engine with either 150 or 180bhp outputs. The 180bhp engine gets the choice of either a six-speed manual or a nine-speed automatic, with the lower power version being manual only. I would advise getting the more powerful engine with the automatic transmission if you plan on hauling seven people around as it is only 4.4mpg worse off and it is noticeably quicker, being 2.6 seconds faster to 60mph. The only other concerns with the Discovery Sport are with the amount of tyre roar at speed from the 19 inch, 255/55 Pirelli Scorpion Zero tyres and the slightly firm ride. On that last one, I suspect that Land Rover has tuned the car to cope with the added weight of additional passengers.
Parking around the Broadway Tourist Information Centre is limited. Luckily, the steering in the Sport is much more precise than any SUV needs to be and makes this vehicle feel surprisingly wieldy at lower speeds. Combined with the big mirrors and a reversing camera on some models, it is quite easy to park, despite the rather small back window.
Sat Nav reprogrammed, I was once again on the move, heading for Stow-on-the-Wold. The higher seating position gives an excellent view over the hedges along the narrow roads which the guidance from above was telling me to follow. Then I met a determined local who refused to budge in their Subaru, which meant that the Disco and I had to take to the muddy verge – the Land Rover’s first and possibly only taste of off-roading it will ever get. I’d love be able to come up with some elaborate tale of how I wrestled with nature to stay on the straight and narrow. But I fear this minor excursion wasn’t even noticed by this SUV, it’s depth of ability being as great as they are.
Soon, Stow-on-the-Wold came into view and I could deposit the last of my gifts. Mission over, I sought a trendy little tea room for a coffee. The Discovery Sport looks right at home in the town centre, amongst the farm shops and golden Cotswold stone buildings, especially when it has a sprinkling of drying earth along its flanks. The Sport has a particularly unique place in the market; its main rivals being the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC, BMW X3, and now the Jaguar F-Pace, are all similar money. True, most can be ordered with bigger six-cylinder diesel engines, but none of them can offer seven seats or this Land Rover’s off-road ability without expensive optional extras. The only vehicle that may give this SUV a run for its money is the Škoda Kodiaq. But that car doesn’t have the cachet of the Land Rover badge, or its ride and handling ability. For some, these reasons will be enough to justify the extra outlay for the Discovery Sport.
Land Rover Discovery Sport 2.0L TD4 180 HSE Automatic Specifications
Engine: Turbocharged in-line four cylinder 1,999cc
Torque: 317lbs ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Front Suspension: MacPherson strut
Rear Suspension: Integral multi-link
Fuel consumption & CO2: 53.3mpg & 139g/km
Top Speed: 117mph
Land Rover Discovery Sport Image Gallery