Land Rover Discovery Sport (2015) First Drive

Discovery Sport 0201

Land Rover South Africa seems adamant on not calling its newest product a replacement for the Freelander. However, there won’t be a new Freelander and the Discovery Sport seems like it fits in the same space as the Freelander used to occupy. We headed out to George and the Karoo to get to grips with the outdoors and the latest offering from Land Rover.

For starters, the Discovery badge comes with a whack of desirability and the Disco Sport borrows much of its DNA from the family. The chassis is based on an Evoque and there are obvious styling links to it as well. The Discovery Sport seats five people easily with a further two seats in the rear on higher spec models. There’s petrol and diesel engines available and all are mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox, developed with gearbox specialists ZF. There’s a new infotainment screen that’s standard across the range and four-wheel drive credentials are built-in, as you’d expect from a Land Rover machine.

Ride Comfort

From the very start of our two day drive across the Garden Route and Karoo, it seemed obvious that Land Rover wanted to showcase how good the Discovery Sport is off road. Much time was spent on different types of gravel roads and the Discovery Sport must have one of the most comfortable and cushioning suspension setups ever made for dirt roads. Even those washboard ripples so common on dirt roads are soaked up and smoothed out beautifully. The cabin, for much of the dirt expedition, held up to the abuse apart from a small rattle behind the dashboard in one of the units I drove.

Engines

There are two diesel derivatives available in the form of a 2.2-Litre turbodiesel with two options of power output. The entry-level TD4 S diesel model has 110 kW and 400 Nm of torque. The other diesel option makes use of the same engine, but with 140 kW and 420 Nm of torque.

On the petrol side, the now familiar 2-Litre turbo from the Jaguar XF and Range Rover Evoque does duty in the Discovery Sport with 177 kW and 340 Nm. Both engines are bolted to a nine-speed automatic gearbox but the diesel models seem to be better suited to so many gears. The petrol engine, with its longer revving range can often be caught too high up the gears and there’s a period of lag whilst the gearbox hunts down three or sometimes four gears.

Inside Story

In order to differentiate the Discovery Sport from the Evoque, Land Rover has made the interior more versatile and long lasting than the more elegant and stylish interior of the Evoque. The Disco Sport is no empty barn inside though, there’s some nice touch materials and loads of rubber that’s easy to clean when things get muddy.

The new infotainment system is a major step up for Land Rover and is standard across the Discovery Sport range. The system is better than before, but still lacks the touch sensitivity and user friendliness of some of the competitors. The entry-level TD4 S model is only available as a five seater whereas the rest of the range has seven seats and the two rear seats are easily pulled out from the floor of the boot. The middle row of seats are fitted to rails and slide forwards and backwards to make for more legroom or more loading space in the rear. As for load space, in five-seater mode, the Discovery Sport can hold 829-Litres of luggage, but if you slide the rear seats forward it’s increased to 981-Litres.

Discovery Sport Pricing

The diesel and petrol models are priced almost identically except for the entry level TD4 S diesel that starts the range off at R541 900. The spec increases through the range which goes S, SE, HSE and the top-spec HSE Luxury. Competitors in its segment are likely to be the Volvo XC60, Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 S                             R541 900

Land Rover Discovery Sport SD4 S                             R590 300

Land Rover Discovery Sport SD4 SE                          R635 600

Land Rover Discovery Sport SD4 HSE                       R692 300

Land Rover Discovery Sport SD4 HSE Luxury         R731 400

Land Rover Discovery Sport Si4 S                               R590 300

Land Rover Discovery Sport Si4 SE                            R635 600

Land Rover Discovery Sport Si4 HSE                         R692 300

Land Rover Discovery Sport Si4 HSE Luxury           R731 400

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