Names can often be confusing. Parts of the 2018 Land Rover Discovery Sport SD4 HSE can be easily dissected, namely the manufacturer and the first bit of the model.
Land Rover is synonymous with off-roading, tinged with a bit of premium-ness before handing those reins over to more expensive Range Rovers. The Discovery has long been a known large SUV quantity, while SD4 equals diesel and HSE means luxury.
But what to make of the Discovery Sport? Nominally a premium medium SUV, it has proven itself to be rugged, relaxed, and roomy enough to fill with sports gear, though hardly sporty itself.
Now, however, there are speedier new turbocharged petrol and diesel engines injected into the range, the latter of which is tested here. On paper they certainly make for a faster Discovery Sport – but can they do enough to make it a good sport?
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV Price: $71,355 (plus on-road costs)
Engine/trans: 177kW/500Nm 2.0 twin-turbo-diesel 4cyl | nine-speed automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.4 L/100km | Tested: 8.9 L/100km
Priced between $56,595 and $77,955 plus on-road costs, the Discovery Sport rivals the Audi Q5, BMW X3/X4, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo XC60, but with the unique option of seven (or 5+2) seats, plus the promise to actually be able to go off-road.
The 2018 line-up still includes an SE model grade available with no fewer than five engine tunes: the $56,595 TD4 (carry-over 110kW/380Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel), $60,290 TD4 (with that diesel upgraded to 132kW/430Nm), $60,255 Si4 (new 177kW/340Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol) and $70,858 Si4 (with that new engine upgraded to 213kW/400Nm), in all cases plus on-road costs.
There’s also this new 2.0-litre twin-turbo diesel with 177kW and 500Nm, badged SD4 from $66,455 (plus orc). Unlike with the 213kW petrol, seven seats are available on all diesels for $2100 extra.
And only the top diesels are available in HSE and HSE Luxury model grades, asking between $71,355 and $77,955 (plus orc) in the case of this Discovery Sport SD4. Let’s dissect the equipment differences below…
- Standard Equipment: Cruise control, leather trim, electrically adjustable front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, keyless auto-entry, electric tailgate, auto-dimming rear-view and side mirrors, dual-zone climate control, and auto on/off wipers and Xenon headlights with auto up/down high beam.
- Infotainment: 8.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB inputs, satellite navigation, and 10-speaker/380-watt Meridian audio.
- Options Fitted: Dynamic Exterior ($4180), Dynamic Interior ($2920), adaptive cruise control ($1440), blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert ($1210), lane-keep assistance ($960), 360-degree camera ($940), app connectivity and Wi-Fi hot-spot ($720).
- Cargo Volume: 981 litres.
The SE scores 18-inch alloys, keyless auto-entry, auto up/down high-beam, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and camera, lane-departure warning, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), electric tailgate, leather trim, electrically adjustable front seats, auto on/off headlights and wipers, plus an 8.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation.
Step another $4900 to this $71,355 (plus orc) HSE and it adds Xenon headlights, front foglights, electric-folding door mirrors, front parking sensors, heated/ventilated front seats, rear air vents and a 10-speaker/380-watt Meridian audio system.
However, it forgoes the $6600-pricier HSE Luxury’s 19-inch alloys, auto reverse-park assistance, 10.0-inch touchscreen, digital radio, 17-speaker/855W Meridian audio and Windsor premium leather.
And Land Rover isn’t done with extras that should be standard, with adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts, 360-degree camera, and panoramic sunroof all still optional. Best forget the ‘Dynamic’ exterior and interior packages that as-tested added $7100, too, because this SUV isn’t about indulgence.
In lieu of Range Rover-esque interior details – fancy screens, touch-sensitive buttons, chrome-licked controls – comes an emphasis on the pragmatic: brilliant ergonomics, terrific storage, and excellent packaging.
Even with a smaller touchscreen, the buttons flanking it are see-and-press simple. Everything from the settings menu to accessing seat climate and navigation destination entry is so disarmingly straightforward in this era of tech-complexity.
Huge door bins, high- and low-set trays, a large glovebox, an equally sizeable console box, and a hidden storage cavity beneath twin cupholders all impress. Yet for all this functionality, soft-touch door plastics and furry flock-lined compartments ensure that this cabin feels semi-premium (if not to Volvo XC60 premium-benchmark standards). The biggest criticism is probably that the dashboard looks very plain.
Behind the high and comfortable front chairs, though, is a sliding and reclining back seat that delivers among the most rear legroom in the class. Indeed, only the XC60 gets close, but the Volvo’s body is 4688mm long; the Sport measures just 4599mm.
And this shorter Discovery gets a larger boot (981 litres versus 505L, although Land Rover measures to the roof) plus the unique option of seven seats. While the latter $2100 option wasn’t ticked on our test car, these ‘sometimes’ seats are a great point of difference and they’re not too squeezy either. Plus, third-row air vents can be optioned for $1210 extra. Yes, yet another option…
ON AND OFF ROAD
- Engine: 177kW/500Nm 2.0 twin-turbo-diesel 4cyl
- Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, AWD
- Suspension: Strut front and independent rear
- Brake: Ventilated front and rear disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering
Let’s quickly dabble in the drivetrain detail. The TD4 HSE costs $61,495 (plus orc) with all the equipment here. It claims a 10.3-second 0-100km/h and drinks 5.3 litres per 100 kilometres according to official combined-cycle fuel consumption testing.
Spend another $3660 to the TD4 HSE upgrade and it claims an 8.9sec 0-100km/h yet with identical fuel usage, while the final $6200 jump to this $71,355 (plus orc) SD4 HSE hands it 7.5sec 0-100km/h and 6.4L/100km claims.
Then there are the SE-only petrols. Even the $60,255 (plus orc) Si4 manages a 7.6sec 0-100km/h but with 8.0L/100km premium unleaded consumption, while the $70,815 (plus orc) Si4 delivers a 6.7sec 0-100km/h and 8.2L/100km fuel usage. Just leave some room for options there to create an HSE-esque equipment level.
As ever, it’s all a balance between speed, economy and up-front outlay.
Anyway, with all-wheel drive standard, this Discovery Sport SD4 HSE weighs 1869kg, yet the 500Nm of torque at 1500rpm helps it feel relaxed, and the 177kW of power at 4000rpm isn’t shabby either.
But the engine isn’t as punchy as the equivalent diesel in a more indulgently specified, $73,990 (plus orc) XC60 D5 R-Design, which claims a 6.9sec 0-100km/h. There is some lag off the line in the Land Rover, which can be frustrating, although the nine-speed auto is excellent, especially in S mode.
This diesel doesn’t feel like it should extend much beyond $80K, though, and the suspension in standard form uses single-setting dampers that are a fraction firm, even on the standard 18-inch tyres. At least they offer brilliant composure and control over any surface, from sudden dirt undulations to urban speed humps, and it does help endow the Discovery Sport with surprising agility, if not outright … sportiness.
Experience with Land Rover’s superb adaptive suspension, dubbed Adaptive Dynamics and a $1950 option, indicates it could be a worthwhile tick of the box.
To that end, though, the standard and superbly mid-weighted steering is among the best to be found in the segment and is a clear dynamic highlight. Perhaps this is most where the Sport tag is taken from, although given a surprisingly high level of road roar that rivals some stripped-out sports cars, maybe it could reflect that too.
Off-road, and the Discovery Sport doesn’t get the height adjustable air suspension of its Discovery sibling. On our rutted-dirt test loop the multi-mode Terrain Response system worked well, and we would certainly take this SUV further than the Volvo.
However, with ground clearance of 212mm, it’s shy of both the XC60 (216mm) and especially the proper Discovery (283mm), while approach, ramp-over and departure angles are broadly similar to the former and mostly off the latter.
ANCAP rating: 5-stars – this model scored 35.6 out of 38 possible points when tested by Euro NCAP in 2014.
Safety Features: Seven airbags, ABS and ESC, front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km.
Servicing: Land Rover offers a capped-price servicing plan costing an extremely affordable $1500 over five years or 96,000km.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The XC60 leads its Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC rivals, and it is the clear pick over the Discovery Sport for interior class, equipment and on-road prowess – if not bush bashing, and sheer space, the main reasons to choose the Land Rover.
The RX L is a new entrant that can rival the SD4 HSE for quality and space, but not off-road ability, while for the ultimate in off-roading and seven-seat space, see the bigger Prado Kakadu; but it doesn’t feel premium inside and lacks on-road prowess.
- Lexus RX L
- Toyota Prado Kakadu
- Volvo XC60 D5 R-Design
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With a pragmatic and practical yet semi-premium interior, plenty of space plus seven-seat availability, and a nice balance between on- and off-road manners, it’s easy to see why the Discovery Sport is the most popular premium medium SUV in Australia.
Its score would ultimately be higher here if this new pumped-up diesel was a little less laggy, slightly less expensive, had a greater level of standard equipment, or if its options were less costly all told. It also should be quieter and ride more smoothly.
Ultimately, it would be tempting on paper to save $11K and choose the just-as-quick turbo petrol Si4 SE over this SD4 HSE (7.6sec versus this diesel’s 7.5sec 0-100km/h), then splash that cash on options. Indeed, that exact amount would add seven seats with third-row vents, the big touchscreen with premium audio, heated/ventilated seats and Adaptive Dynamics to the petrol for a total $71.5K.
Options abound, but the smart money would be on a so-equipped Discovery Sport.
- Interested in buying Land Rover Discovery Sport? Visit our Land Rover showroom for more information.