Road test: Land Rover Discovery Sport
AT first glance, the changes to Land Rover’s Discovery Sport in its new guise would seem quite minimal.
But the world’s most versatile compact 5+2 SUV now has the latest user-friendly technology and more efficient electrified engines.
Add to those improvements a top-notch premium cabin and a few tweaks to the exterior design and you have one helluva car, whether its natural habitat will be on the school run or exploring harsh environs.
It’s more practical too, with the 5+2 seating offering 40/20/40 second row seats that provide 24 possible seat configurations.
Launched four years ago, the Discovery Sport now comes with efficient hybrid-electric power:4 8-volt MHEV, four-cylinder Ingenium petrol and diesel engines or three-cylinder PHEV and a transverse engine layout that minimises overall length and maximises cabin space.
Available in Standard, S, SE and HSE specification, prices start at £31,575 for the two-wheel drive manual D150, which is also available with automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. The D180, D240, P200 and P250 engines all come with nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
All models, except our D150 diesel manual, are offered as a 48-volt mild hybrid, with the choice of petrol or diesel engines.
I tested the D180 in one of Land Rover’s experience centres, which offer some of the toughest off-road territory in the UK.
This will no doubt be the most popular choice as a serious off-roader offering decent economy, plenty of torque and 2.5-tonne towing capacity and a ride quality that’s achingly good.
The off-road technology is incredibly simple to use, thanks to the Terrain Response 2 system that handles virtually anything you can throw at it by means of a few buttons.
Ground clearance is excellent at 212mm, while the wading capability is even better at 600mm. That’s higher than the outgoing Defender, which could only manage 500mm.
Central to the interior technology is the Touch Pro infotainment system - now a standard fit – which features a new 10-inch high-definition touchscreen with swipe and pinch-to-zoom controls.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now feature, allowing seamless smartphone integration, and these additions are complemented by wireless charging and 4G WiFi hotspot capability.
Even if all seven seats are occupied, Discovery Sport’s smart tech ensures visibility is always optimised. It features a rear-view mirror that, at the touch of a button, transforms into a high-definition camera view that doubles the view compared with the traditional mirror,
There’s also a 1.7-megapixel HDR camera, which is cleverly packaged in the shark fin aerial on the roof of the car with a hydrophobic lens coating, to work in all weathers.
Customers also told Land Rover that judging position and space was crucial, both in the city and off-road. Hence the introduction of a clever ground view feature that use three cameras – in the front grille and each wing mirror - to create one real-time 180-degree image of the front field of the vehicle.
Trademark Discovery design cues, including the clamshell bonnet, rising beltline and tapered roof, remain. But the new model’s exterior has evolved. There are new signature LED headlamps at the front and rear, alongside an updated front grille and bumpers.
Bigger inside with more room for everyone, as well as increased small and large stowage spaces, there are more premium materials, a reversing camera as standard and a suite of available advanced driver assistance systems. This includes optional adaptive cruise control.
The Discovery Sport has notched up annual sales of 120,000, with 20 per cent going to homes in the UK. It remains a go-anywhere premium compact SUV that embodies the Land Rover spirit of Discovery. Now it’s even better in virtually every area.
AT A GLANCE
Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 SE
Price: £43,175 (range from £31,575)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel producing 180hp
Transmission: Nine-speed mild electric hybrid automatic driving all wheels
Performance: 0 to 60mph in 9.4 seconds; top speed 125mph
Economy: 37.2mpg combined
CO2 emissions: 150g/km
Value For Money: ****