Regular readers of UsedCars NI will know that I have somewhat of a soft spot for Land Rover models and over the years have worked closely with Ireland Offroad Experience within Clandeboye Estate when reviewing sports utility vehicles, enabling me to see just how well they cope on terrain that few will ever review such a vehicle on.
As expected from Land Rover, this all new Discovery Sport is a premium 4×4 with a plethora of options and toys and indeed you would be forgiven for thinking that the Discovery Sport is the spawn of a one night stand between the Freelander (which has ceased production) and the popular Range Rover Evoque.
The Discovery Sport in my view replaces the Freelander, however it is a lot more grown up and refined than the more practical Freelander work horse was.
We drove a top of the pops, HSE Luxury model which gets front and rear parking sensors, touch screen media system with sat nav and reverse camera. This test car also has the £2,500 optional entertainment pack which adds dual view TFT screen, enabling the driver to listen to the DAB Radio and view the sat nav whilst the passenger can watch the freeview channels on screen and listen to the program of choice via the wireless headset, all at once.
This dual view screen is something I first came across in a Range Rover Autobiography worth around £120,000 so to see it in this baby of the fleet listed at a just £47,475 OTR with all its options was a pleasant surprise indeed.
The HSE Luxury also comes with 20” alloy wheels, key-less entry and powered tailgate as standard. Other options added to this Land Rover UK test car seen a very useful electronic deployable tow-bar at £950 with adaptive Xenon headlamps adding another £375 for added safety and visibility.
Engine wise this Discovery Sport is fitted with the all new Ingenium diesel 2.0 TD4 engine that reduces weight and emissions whilst increasing economy and refinement. Producing 180bhp and a mountain of torque (317lb/ft) it was never struggling on or off road.
The optional “tow pack” allows a braked trailer weight of 2500kg which is respectable and would see a good sized boat or rally car being pulled along with legal ease. Consumption on mixed driving over a weekend was low 40’s which is much greater than the older 2.2 Diesel engine fitted to a previous Discovery Sport I reviewed.
Driving on the road was smooth but firm in regards to body and tyre roll, larger 4×4’s have come so far even in the last few years and they are driving more and more like cars for every model that is realised, thus meaning they handle well, are light to drive and respond well to city driving as well as coping fine when you’re in a rush on country lanes.
They can absorb everything you throw at it with ease and when you have all the children dropped to school it is perfect to bring a filled soda up the mountain to your beloved who has been tending to a herd from first light.
Off road there are several aids; the main being the “terrain response system” as found in the Evoque in which the driver selects between four different settings depending on the surface below, these are: General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand. The vehicle then works out what it has to do with power delivery to keep you moving over whichever surface you are driving on.
It also features speed adjustable hill decent control, gradient release control and roll stability control. The manual Discovery Sport that we tested a year ago off road, wasn’t overly keen on making it up the steep incline test, needing some persuasion, but eventually made it. One other criticism of all Discovery Sport’s off road ability would be the severe lack of ground clearance, when driven on rutted tracks the underside doesn’t really have much of a chance however on less rutted areas it was awesome.
However; this latest 9 speed automatic version was unstoppable off road (well so long as the low ground clearance didn’t stop you in your tracks) and in comparison to its manual siblings took me by surprise at its ability. On road the automatic ‘box was a little sluggish and as such purchasing a Discovery Sport is easy for me, for lots of rough driving the 180bhp TD4 Auto is the one to go for but if used mostly on the road then the nicer model to drive is the 180bhp TD4 Manual.
Inside the cabin and it is a nice place to be, at the ride height it’s a joy to get in and out of, it’s not too low nor too high, just nice and the heated/cooled black leather seats are comfortable and reasonably supportive throughout, the second row seats have a slide forward option and this is key for the plus side of this Land Rover.
The Discovery Sport has a five seat layout plus two in the boot, the third row lift up creating two very cramped seats that would be suited for young children whilst still leaving enough room in the five usual seats for adults to be comfortable. The boot is mega with the third row inactive and would easily see a couple of sets of golf clubs, a tool box with spare wheels or a couple of prams with accompanying bags that go with children of such ages.
The model tested had a glass roof with electric blind creating an illusion of size once the light came streaming through and made the large cabin even more spacious feeling. The dash was well laid out and the usual toys apply such as heated & cooled seats, Bluetooth, sat nav, front and rear heated screens and electric everything. One last thing to note was the Meridian Surround Audio fitted, it was fantastic quality.
All in all, a nice comfortable safe place to be that is best suited on road and drives brilliantly with varying models to suit everyone’s needs. I would like to thank Walter Corr at Ireland Offroad Experience and Land Rover UK for accommodating the fun part of this review and also to Wash My Ride in Bangor for not being afraid to get stuck in on cleaning the car after my excursion!
Words and Photos: Graham Curry