The Land Rover Discovery Sport is the latest model to come from the brand and upon first glance looks like the lovechild of a Range Rover Sport and a Range Rover Evoque. Is this genre dilution at its finest, or is the Land Rover Discovery Sport a credible offering? We spent a week with the Freelander-replacement to find out.
Land Rover and sister company Jaguar are making waves at the moment. There's a lot of product and innovation coming from the company and it's difficult to find fault with most of their offerings. The Land Rover Discovery Sport is the latest, and probably one of the most important new models, to reach the market. vehicle The demise of its predecessor, the Freelander, is a real shame as it offered a chance to get into the brand for a not-too-unreasonable amount of money, and we were sad to see it go. But despite its positives, the Freelander had its faults - all of which the Discovery Sport address with ease.
Unmistakably Land Rover DesignLet's start with the basic question: what is a Land Rover Discovery Sport? Think of this as a Discovery-lite, a practical and sensible vehicle. The Discovery range has become quite pricey and this Sport model offers similar levels of specification and performance, without the price tag bordering R1-million. It's a smart-looking SUV with a touch of sportiness, and thanks to the headlight/grille combination it's unmistakably Land Rover.
Seven SeatsThanks to clever engineering seven seats are fitted as standard. The third row of seats can be folded flat when not in use resulting in a cavernous boot area, or quickly activated by pushing a button located in the boot. The downside of having three rows of seats means that no matter how cleverly designed your product is, boot space becomes very limited. The passengers in the third row of seats have space thanks to the second row being able to slide forwards and backwards.
Build Quality and FeaturesBuild quality feels good at face value and the materials certainly feel premium. Tested here is the SD4 SE model, which sits halfway up the Discovery Sport ladder. Standard specification is commendable and you're certainly getting your money's worth. Cruise control, rear parking assist, two-zone climate control, navigation, USB port, Bluetooth connectivity, three 12V charging sockets, auto headlamps and rain-sensing wipers all come standard. Safety features include seven airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control as well as trailer control. Being a Land Rover, you can specify extra goodies to your heart's content, but be mindful of the cost!
New Infotainment SystemOne of the big changes seen in the cabin of the Land Rover Discovery Sport is the all-new infotainment sustem which replaces the unit which has done duty in pretty much every recent Land Rover/Range Rover product. While the previous touchscreen system wasn't too bad, it was getting dated compared with the HD, tablet-like screens from the likes of Audi and BMW in recent years. This new 8-inch touchscreen features better resolution and a smartphone-like interface. Colours are crisp and the user experience is generally pleasant. We did find that you have to firmly press the screen repeatedly to make a selection and the system is initially a little confusing. Once you're familiar with it, however, it's straightforward.
Engine, Transmission & Offroad AbilityPowering the Land Rover Discovery Sport is a 2.2-litre turbodiesel with 140kW and 420Nm. Power drives all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission. While some may suggest that nine ratios is perhaps one or even two ratios too many, we found that it was a good combination as it keeps the engine in its sweet spot of power, torque and economy. Shifts are smooth and the transmission is responsive if you suddenly mash the accelerator. Despite its fashionable and modern looks, it's still a Land Rover and that means its offroad ability has to be good. The vehicle has a wading depth of 600mm and a ground clearance of 212mm, meaning it can confidently press on through the rough stuff, which was limited to a mild off-road track and a shallow river test.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport comes with the brand's acclaimed Terrain Response system, which adapts the vehicle's drivetrain to different offroad situations through a simple-to-use interface. The modes include gravel, snow and mud/ruts and so on, and selecting one of these modes will assist the car in automatically applying the correct amount of throttle and traction control to safely traverse the obstacles. There's also a centre differential and hill descent control which allow the Land Rover Discovery Sport to venture quite far offroad. So much for a fashionable icon then!
When not doing its best Bear Grylls impression, we found the Land Rover Discovery Sport to have excellent tarmac manners. The ride quality is noticeably refined and the car exudes a premium feel that few can match. Land Rover is pitching this at the likes of the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 which are popular vehicles in the luxury lifestyle class and we think the Land Rover Discovery Sport is easily a match for these two.
Land Rover Discovery Sport Price in South AfricaThe Land Rover Discovery Sport range starts from R545 901, with the range-topping model retailing for R739 300. The mid-spec SD4 SE here costs R640 320.
VerdictThe Land Rover Discovery Sport does an excellent job of being both a premium offroader and seven-seat transporter. With a premium a badge on the nose and the ability to cross rivers as well as carry seven people, this new SUV will give rival manufacturers massive headaches. We're prepared to excuse its hefty asking price based on the above reasons and essentially it does everything asked of it exceptionally well. So if you can't afford a Discovery and think the Evoque is a little too designer chic, then Discovery Sport is your answer.
We Like: Offroad ability, modern looks, revised infotainment system, great engine/gearbox combo, seven seats.
We Don’t Like: Not a lot...
Also Consider: BMW X3, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60, Lexus NX, Jeep Cherokee