When it first launched, the Discovery Sport was a bit of a misnomer - it wasn't all that sporty and it didn’t have the exploring prowess of the larger Discovery it was spun off, though, to its credit, it does a better job than most mid-size SUVs.
However, the introduction of new four-cylinder turbocharged engines might turn around its power struggles. At the top of the tree is this Si4 on test that produces a bully 213kW and 400Nm output to put a bit more spring into the Disco’s step.
Priced from $56,595 the Discovery Sport comes with three trim grade options and five engine choices.
The SE is the entry-level trim that goes up to HSE and HSE Luxury. But with the most potent petrol motor available the 213kW engine takes the SE’s price up to $70,858. In between are the choice of three diesels and a milder petrol motor.
Despite being the entry-grade trim, standard equipment is quite good - even for premium brand expectations - with items such as keyless entry and ignition, satellite navigation, electric opening tailgate and full-size spare all standard, items that are not always included at this price point.
Further inclusions are 18-inch alloys, leather trim interior, 8.0-inch infotainment system with 10-speaker Meridian sound system, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, cruise control and automatic wipers and headlights.
Standard safety is limited and includes forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, though there are plenty of options to be tagged on: dynamic exterior styling adds $4180, adaptive cruise control $1440, blind spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert adds $1210, twelve-way electric seats cost an additional $1100, metallic paint $1370, heads-up display $1590 and black pack exterior trims $1160, among many more.
In the end it might be easier to just go with the HSE or even HSE Luxury trim, but they’re only available with the top-grade diesel motor so ponying-up is the only option if you want petrol-power.
- Standard Equipment: Cruise control, leather trim, electrically adjustable front seats, heated front seats, keyless auto-entry, electric tailgate, auto-dimming rear-view and side mirrors, dual-zone climate control, and auto on/off wipers and led 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.
- Cargo Volume: 981 litres.
While it’s not going to win any style awards the interior wins marks for its airy cabin feel and practical storage. There’s also a well laid out array of buttons and controls for everything you can think of but by Range Rover standards it’s beginning to lag, and some touch points and surfaces aren’t as plush as what you’ll find elsewhere in the stable. However, as an adventurous SUV, it’s mostly a well-blended environment of soft plastics and hard wearing surfaces.
The centrally-mounted infotainment offers plenty of real estate for navigating its simple but slightly dated interface and is hooked up to a sharp 10-speaker Meridian sound system that doesn’t have the fidelity of high-end systems but plenty of low end punch and clarity for everyday listening. Unfortunately, there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto but it does bring satellite navigation as standard.
Continuing function over form are plenty of pockets and storage bins, six cup and bottle holders to cater for more than everyone (unless opting for the extra third-row), USB charging ports, two 12v sockets and a very big glove box. The rear pew also slides and reclines for a bigger boot or better leg room which is capacious even for adults, so kids can’t complain.
The front seats are set high with a typical SUV in-command position and lofty headroom caters for tall frames while the standard cushions are also comfortable with thoughtful ergonomics that don’t tire over long journeys.
While this new motor might put the Sport back into the name there’s a slight misnomer inside the back too, where boot space is stated at 981-litres large – far more than most competitors – but the measurements are taken to the roof. So while better than most rivals, it isn’t crushing. What is a win for large families with intermittent hitchhikers is the cost-option seven-seat bench that tucks neatly out of the way.
ON AND OFF ROAD
- Engine: 213kW/400Nm 2.0 twin-turbo-petrol 4cyl
- Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, AWD
- Suspension: Strut front and independent rear
- Brake: Ventilated front and rear disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering
While the diesel-powered engines claim a 0-100km/h sprint anywhere from over ten seconds to under eight, this Si4 does the job in 6.7. But it’s thirsty and has an average combined-cycle fuel consumption of 8.2l/100km compared to less than 6.5l/100km across the diesel trio.
Sending it from a standstill to the ton quicker than most is a more powerful but less torquey 213kW/400Nm four-cylinder turbo petrol motor that delivers all of its might with urgency around town, and there’s plenty of pickup for overtaking when driving at speed – some of that coming from being able to kick down a cog or two in the nine-speed automatic transmission.
But its almost 1.9-tonne weight can be felt and without a sophisticated aluminium chassis to ride on it’s heavy on its feet. Optional adjustable dampers disguise some of that and in dynamic driving mode it has some sporty composure around bends that settles quickly on rough roads.
The flipside to a sharp ride is firmness that doesn’t beat the plush ride of new arrivals though the 18-inch wheels take away the brittle response larger alloys can transmit. When cruising it feels calm and there’s good dampening from road and wind noise, and the steering has a nice weight and feel to it too. But it can be a bit of a chore and slow lock-to-lock around the city compared to light but not as connected rivals.
Coming standard with all-wheel drive, the driveline is agile and quick to keep things tidy in poor conditions, plus tailored all-terrain modes help the SUV chug along off-tracks that are within the scope of its 212mm ground clearance – paths littered with things like mud, sand and rocks. It’ll also tow 2500kg braked but the efficient and torquey diesel engines will do it easier.
Further benefits of the Discovery Sport are easy-in and easy-out door access and a tall seating position with good vision out of the glasshouse. It’s also pretty easy to park with the supplied reversing camera and parking sensors but is much simpler with the optional 360-degree camera setup that has a birds-eye view.
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 BMW X3 has delivered its latest update that brings improved ride quality and nicer interior appointments that are better than most details in the Discovery Sport. The performance-oriented X3 M40i doesn’t have many rivals either, but it’s not as competent off-road.
The Volvo XC60 is a step-up from the Germans in most regards and is a class act inside. It’s well sorted on the road and good value, but again it isn’t geared to venture off the beaten track like the Discovery Sport.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
If you’re waiting for a sporty Discovery Sport the new Si4 delivers a sense of urgency the vehicle never had. The baked-in SE grade trim level isn’t ideal but it’s easy (and expensive) to tailor up the perfect blend.
- Interested in buying Land Rover Discovery Sport? Visit our Land Rover showroom for more information.