First introduced in 2014 as a replacement for the Land Rover Freelander, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is the first member of the Discovery family to be updated for 2016, enough reason for us to jump behind the wheel in the leafy rural English countryside.
The Discovery Sport comes with three engine options. Two of these are the all-new 2.0-lire Ingenium diesel engine, in either 150PS or 180PS power output, and the third is the 2.0-litre Si4 petrol engine producing 240PS.
The 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, Ingenium diesel is designed to deliver impressive torque and power outputs, combined with reduced CO2 emissions and lower fuel consumption. This all-new EU6-compliant Ingenium engine is capable of delivering a fuel economy of up to 57.7mpg and C02 emissions of just 129g/km. The Ingenium-powered Discovery Sports will also be designated as ‘E-Capabile’ vehicles, with a blue ‘Sport’ badge highlighting the most efficient variant. When equipped with the 180PS Ingenium engine the Discovery Sport can sprint from 0-100km/h in in 8.9seconds, and then on to a top speed of 188km/h.
The Si4 2.0-litre petrol engine comes with an advanced low-inertia turbocharger, variable valve timing and a high-pressure direct fuel injection system to boost the drivability throughout the rev range. The 240PS engine output comes at 5500rpm, whilst 340Nm of torque is available between 1800 and 4000rpm, all while delivering 35.2mpg fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of 191g/km.
The Si4 engine is typically 20 per cent more fuel efficient than larger engines producing equivalent power.
Gearbox & Drivetrain
All three of the engine derivatives can be spec’d with the nine-speed ZF 9HP48 automatic transmission, whilst the diesel models also have the option of the six-speed manual M66 gearbox.
An innovative adaptive-shifting system matches the transmission’s responses to the driver’s mood. For example when the driving style is more relaxed, taller gears are selected quicker and held for a longer time, whilst in more dynamic driving situations lower gears are held for longer and the downshift is more eager.
The Getrag M66 six-speed manual gearbox features new internals that reduce the friction and increase the efficiency of the transmission. The gearbox has been further enhanced by improving the shifter to increase the ease of shifting.
Suspension & Chassis
The Discovery Sport’s monocoque construction combines a mix of high-strength steel, ultra-high-strength boron steel and lightweight aluminium panels. This has been designed to ensure a strong, stiff and light base for it’s dynamic performance whilst also having high levels of torsional rigidity. There is an all-new multi-link integral rear axle to heighten the agility and increase axle articulation. This combined with the lightweight aluminium suspension components and carefully calibrated dampers gives unrivaled level of compliance no matter what the surface conditions. The addition of a new rear axle helps to reduce the interior noise and minimises intrusion of the rear suspension turrets into the load space, which is pivotal to providing excellent load space and 5+2 seating.
Terrain Response maximise the Discovery Sport’s performance and safety and is easily controlled via an intuitive interface on the centre console. Terrain Response allows the Discovery Sport’s steering, throttle response, gearbox, centre-coupling and braking/stability systems to be precisely tailored to the demands of the terrain. There are four settings for Terrain Response namely General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts and then Sand.
The addition of Wade Sensing means the Discovery Sport can now wade through water up to a depth of 600mm. Using sensors in the door mirrors, the Wade Sensing feature informs the driver of the water depth with a visual display on the vehicle’s 8-inch touchscreen and an audible tone that increases as the depth rises. The driver can see both the current depth of the water along with how much deeper the car can safely wade. The air intake has been positioned high above the wheel arch to ensure no water enters the engine, while a rigorous testing procedure ensures all door seals are watertight.
Alongside the the Terrain Response and Wade Sensing there is a comprehensive suite of off-road technology available in the Discovery Sport. It includes Hill Descent Control to maintain a set speed whilst tackling steep off-road inclines, Gradient Release Control that progressively releases the brakes when moving away on an incline and Roll Stability Control that detects the onset of a rollover and applies the outer wheels brakes to bring the vehicle back under control.
Dynamic Stability Control and Electronic Traction Control will reducing engine torque and apply individual brakes to help correct oversteer, understeer and prevent wheelspin, whilst Engine Drag torque control helps to prevent lock-ups under heavy engine braking in slippery conditions by increasing engine torque to the affected wheels.
The Discovery Sport introduces a progressive new dynamic direction, tailored to create a clear differentiation between the other families within the Land Rover brand, these being the Luxury of Range Rover, the Leisure of the Discovery and the Dual-Purpose of the Defender.
At 4590mm long, it is 239mm shorter than the it’s seven-seat sister, the Land Rover Discovery, whilst its 2741mm wheelbase offers decent legroom all-round and has moved the alloys further out towards the corner of the vehicle. The result of which is a visually robust, compact, low centre of gravity vehicle oozing agility and a solid driving experience. The Discovery Sport’s streamlined design, with clamshell bonnet and distinctive grille is complemented by excellent all-round visibility while the interior and load space are easily accessible and fully optimised.
With the aid of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), the Discovery Sport aerodynamic efficiency is an impressive 0.36Cd, which in-turn improves it’s performance, fuel economy, wind noise and refinement. CFD was used to further reduce the transfer of road grime and dirt onto the rear of the car, whilst a specially laminated windscreen reduces the wind noise levels even further.
There are a number of exterior enhancements to the Discovery Sport that give it a distinct presence. At the front is a bold new headlamp design that gives a strong visual presence, with the addition of slim wraparound day-time running lights. Customers of the higher trim level and can specify Signature Plus headlamps which feature adaptive-cornering technology to match the light beam to the driver’s steering angle. There is also two large air intakes and LED fog lamps, with the purposeful wheel-arch mouldings paying homage to Land Rover’s unique heritage.
At the back there is a carefully crafted rear spoiler optimizing airflow for aerodynamic efficiency. The rear bumpers and rugged skid plate, flanked by twin exhaust, give off the Discovery Sport’s “go-anywhere” nature.
Colour wise there are 12 exterior options;Fuji White, Santorini Black, Corris Grey, Indus Silver, Loire Blue, Scotia Grey, Aintree Green, Kaikoura Stone, Firenze Red, Yulong White, Barolo Black and Phoenix Orange. When choosing either of the Black colours, you can add a gloss-black grille, door mirror caps, front fender vents, bonnet and tailgate lettering to give an even more eye-catching look. Whereas when speccing in Santorini Black or Corris Grey there is the option of a contrast roof that extends to the base of the A-pillars.
For the wheels there is a range of seven distinctive alloy wheel designs with a unique new 19″ wheel design in Satin Dark Grey, or a 20″ Gloss Black wheel being available. These new options, combined with the new interior and detailing, leave the Discovery Sport giving off a powerful and striking look.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is the first vehicle in the world to come equipped with Autonomous Emergency Braking that either avoids or minimise the impact of collisions. The innovative Autonomous Emergency Braking system uses a stereo digital camera system between the speeds of 5 and 80km/h (3-50mph). The system helps to avoid collisions below 50km/h (32mph), and reduces the severity of an impact at speeds below 80km/h (50mph).
The system works by using stereo cameras mounted next to the rear-view mirror to detect objects that could pose the risk of a collision, such as queuing traffic. When the system deems a collision likely, it will alert the driver with a visual and audible warning. If no action is taken by the driver, and the collision is judged as unavoidable,a further warning is triggered while the system applies full braking pressure to bring the vehicle to a stop.
There are of course other driver-assist systems on the Discovery Sport, these include Park Assist, Automatic High-Beam, Lane Departure, Traffic Sign Recognition, Trailer Stability Assist, Tow Assist and Tow Hitch Assist, Blind-Spot Monitor, Closing Vehicle Sensing, Automatic headlamps and rain-sensitive wipers.
Another new feature on the Discovery Sport is the “Gesture Tailgate”, where you are able to open and close the powered tailgate by means of a kick gesture, enabling the user hands-free access to the load space.
Inside the Discovery Sport the centre console provides focus point of the cabin, where the key controls are placed in easily accessible positions from the driving seat. There is a choice of three stereo systems, as well as a top of the range Meridian 17-Speaker audio system that works conjointly with the InControl infotainment system. The three stereo options come as an entry-level six speaker set, a ten-speaker system and a top of the range ten-speaker with added amplifier and subwoofer.
There is also the range topping Meridian audio system that offers a 825w surround sound 17-speaker system that includes a subwoofer and state-of-the-art amplifier that incorporates the latest in digital process technology to give an outstanding sound quality for the whole vehicle.
In conjunction with the stereo and audio systems on offer is Land Rovers innovative InControl infotainment system. Available with an 8-inch touchscreen, with 800×480 pixel resolution, mounted in the centre of the dash console, the system has been developed in conjunction with Bosch SoftTec, to put Land Rover at the forefront of in-car connectivity, and is compatible with the latest Apple and Android smartphones. This infotainment system includes HDD satellite navigation, dual-view functionality – allowing the driver only see the sat-nav, whilst the passenger watches a DVD on the same screen – and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Once you have downloaded Land Rovers companion smartphone app for your Apple or Android smartphone, and connected your smartphone to the dedicated USB port, the InControl apps that have been optimised for in-vehicle functionality will be available on the touchscreen whilst retaining their original look and feel. Some of these apps include iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Glympse, Sygic, Parkopedia, Hotelseeker, Cityseeker, Eventseeker, Airmotion News, Winston and MobileDay, with the range being continually expanded.
Other features in the InControl suite include InControl Remote, InControl Secure and InControl Wi-Fi. InControl Remote allows owners to summon roadside assistance, or the emergency services, if required whilst it’s accompanying smartphone app allows users to prepare for a trip by checking fuel levels and range remotely, find their vehicle in a crowded car park and check if they have left doors or windows open.
There is also the option to download the journey details to assist in claiming business mileage expenses. InControl Secure will track the vehicle in the event that it is stolen, and will automatically send a SMS text message to alert the owner. InSecure Wi-Fi provides an in-car 3G hotspot that allows a maximum of eight devices to connect to it. The suite also allows easy access to the connected smartphones contacts, calendar and music library, whilst the maps app has satellite views overlaid with the vehicles location.
Head Up Display (HUD) makes its debut on the Land Rover Discovery Sport, projecting key driving data to the windscreen at the driver’s line of sight. The information displayed includes road speed, sat-nav directions and gear position when Commandshift manual mode is selected, allowing the driver to safely access information while keeping their eyes on the road.
Our test subject was a Phoenix Orange 2.0L TD4 Diesel with Ebony Windsor interior, specced at £47,975, nearly £5k above base. Our Discovery Sport featured the entertainment package, InControl connectivity, adaptive xeon headlamps, electric deployable towbar and the Sanrotini Black contrast roof.
Our starting point was the rural Berkshire village of Hurley, roughly an hour west of London. Our test route would see us head into the Oxfordshire countryside, taking in a motorway before looping back round through Henley-on-Thames, famous for its world renown rowing regatta, and back to our base at the The Olde Bell Hotel.
Once out of the quaint rural village we were down a small twisty country road, and waiting at a junction to join a major A-road. Here was our first little test for the Discovery Sport, seeing how quick and nimble it was at pulling out on to a main road from a standing start. As soon as there was a nice gap, our foot went down and the Discovery Sport nipped itself into the rolling traffic and was up to speed in a spiritedly manner. After a few minutes of moving in and out of the slower traffic with ease, we were merging onto the Motorway and getting a chance to see what the Discovery Sport would be like as a motorway vehicle.
As with a lot of SUVs, a fair few Discovery Sports will spend their time travelling tirelessly up and down motorways, carrying families, activity equipment and towing trailers. Because of this we relaxed into our Motorway jaunt and had a look at the various options on the vehicle that will aid drivers of this manner. First the Infotainment system is very simple to operate for the driver, with the on-wheel navigationally buttons being in the ideal position, so you don’t have to remove your hands from the steering wheel, whilst the additional navigation window on the dash means you don’t have to move your eyes to the centre console to see whats going on. In addition to the easy of the Infotainment system, the audio system sounds clear and the additional Meridian system enhances it even more. The cabin of the Discovery Sport is a comfortable place to be, not only interns of ride quality, but the reduced wind and road noise adds to the relaxing experience.
Once off the motorway, it was back onto some small, but fast, country roads and we were weaving our way through the Oxfordshire countryside back to Henley. This route gave us a better chance to see what the Discovery Sport feels and fits in another typical environment for it – the countryside villages. Again the Discovery Sport feels at home on these fast, and often slightly unkept roads, handling them with ease as we power our way through the mud, puddles and winter surroundings to the historical rowing town of Henley-on-Thames.
Here, we parked up the Discovery Sport, and took a step away to see how it fitted in a village where almost every second car that passes is either a 4×4 or SUV. Whilst parked up by the river the Discovery Sport attracted attention from passing cars and passersby, several stopping to take an extended look. Could this be their new SUV of choice for the rowers around the town? Quite possibly going by their reactions towards the vehicle. After this short break we were back in the car over the River Thames and back up to the quiet and tranquil surrounds of Hurley and The Olde Bell Hotel.
What about the competition?
The main competitors for the Land Rover in this market come from Audi, with the Q5, BMW, with the X3 and from Volvo with the XC60. In a product test, conducted by data provider Kwikcarcost, the Land Rover Discovery Sport came either top, or second, in the areas reviewed in regards to cost of ownership. The data provided showed that it was £92 more expensive to service and maintain than the Volvo XC60, but it’s running cost over a three-year period were £84 cheaper than it’s closest competitor, Volvo XC60. The data also showed that the Discovery Sport, after three-years and 60k miles, would retain 45.09% of its value, only beaten by the BMW X3 which retained 44.58%. The last test showed that the Discovery Sport came out on top in the ‘Whole Life Cost’ analysis, over £1,700 cheaper than the Audi Q3 in second place.
In conclusion, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is a very versatile, good value for money and comfortable SUV. It’s design blends the ruggedness of a Land Rover with the luxury expected from it’s Range Rover brothers. It’s no frills look interior is bolstered with a very good infotainment system. After looking round the vehicle and taking it for a spin we can say that the Discovery Sport is a worthy name in the SUV market.
Available in 170 markets, from a base on the road price of £30,695, the Discovery Sport is on sale now!