New Land Rover Discovery Sport - First Drive
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
Five years ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to watch the first Land Rover Discovery Sport roll off the production line at Halewood. The all-new model took the British marque into a new sector and what a smart move this has proved to be.
Succeeding the ageing Freelander, the design brief was to offer 5+2 seating in a compact body, a dynamic on-road driving experience, be capable off-road, have a premium feel and a five-star safety rating.
It met the remit rather well and strong sales followed, so much so that the Sport is now the company’s best seller and by some considerable margin too.
Rivals are plentiful and perhaps the obvious ones are the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60. None can seat seven.
With the aforementioned trio all having been updated recently, it was only a matter of time before the Discovery Sport had a refresh. In order to take a look at the new model, I headed for the Lake District, destination Ullswater.
Underpinning the new model is Land Rover’s premium transverse architecture, the aim being to deliver greater refinement and comfort whilst meeting ever more stringent global safety requirements.
Unmistakeable Land Rover design clues are still very much in evidence, with a clamshell bonnet, rising beltline and tapered roof. LED lighting front and rear alongside updated grille and bumpers, add a touch of class.
Inside, the latest digital Touch Pro infotainment system is fitted to all models and there has been a noticeable shift to more premium materials. New seats in all rows aim to improve comfort and after a day behind the wheel, I can confirm that the front perches do their job well.
The second row of seats spilt 40:20:40 and slide for maximum versatility. Access to the rear seats is limited as is space when ensconced. Preteens will love it and the stadium seating will ensure that they get a fine view out.
Sharing a platform with the Evoque once again, a similar range of engines is offered. £31,575 will buy a 150bhp front-wheel drive model with manual gears. However, most owners will want 4x4 and automatic gears, so perhaps £36,425 is the real starting point. With this move, a range of hybrid petrol and diesel engines are now available and coming soon will be the plug-in hybrid variants.
My test car for the day was a D180 SE, priced at £43,175 before options. I’m not sure you need to spend more unless you fancy a more sporting R-Dynamic model.
Immediately apparent is the increased level of refinement. Wind and road noise are all but absence and a quick blast south on the M6 showed the Discovery Sport to be a most able motorway cruiser.
We were soon heading east onto some of Yorkshire’s finest roads, most of which I knew well. I was pleasantly surprised as to how much fun I was able to have, the engineers having created an excellent ride/handling balance. Composed, controlled and comfortable, my driving companion and I were most impressed.
Our destination was Land Rover’s experience centre just outside Skipton. Here we were able to test the Discovery Sport’s full off-road capabilities and it came as no surprise that we were able to tackle a variety of obstacles with ease. Steep ascents, scary descents, deep river wading and lots of mud were overcome thanks to the capable 4x4 system which works in conjunction with clever electronics. This ensures that even a complete novice should be able to tackle challenging terrain without fear.
New features available for the first time include a ‘Ground View’ system which helps drivers to navigate high city kerbs or tackle rough terrain. It does this by projecting camera imagery that offers a virtual 180-degree view beneath the vehicle onto the touchscreen. It was not fitted to the test car, but I’ve used it in the Evoque and it works rather well.
All models are fitted with an advanced suite of driver assistance systems. This includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Steering Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Driver Condition Monitor.
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So how to sum up the latest Land Rover Discovery Sport? It offers a premium, spacious and comfortable cabin and a range of frugal and refined engines. Still as capable as ever off-road, it is the on-road refinement that impressed me the most and it’s an engaging drive to boot.
So, pop along to your friendly Land Rover dealership and give one a try or better still book yourself in at an experience centre and then you can see what the Discovery Sport is really capable of.
Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 AWD SE
Price £43,175 (£46,365 as tested)
Range starts at £31,575
180bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine
9-speed automatic gearbox
0-60mph in 9.4 seconds
Top speed 125mph
Combined economy 37.2mpg
Emissions 150g/km CO2
Wading depth 600mm
Maximum towing capacity 2,200kg (braked)
New Land Rover Discovery Sport - First Drive, 27th October 2019, 10:48 AM