Thanks to Land Rover for the image
Welcome to the powerful new Land Rover Discovery Sport. This powerhouse SUV has been built to replace the aging Freelander range and boy, does it deliver. With the introduction of the Discovery Sport, Land Rover have simplified their range. There are now just three solid models: the Range Rover, the Discover and the Defender. It makes for a more compact, more powerful brand. The Discovery sits in the middle of the range as a ‘medium compact’ model.
Land Rover have always been the leaders in the SUV market. Their powerful off-road cars have always been the first to deliver, setting the standard for those behind them. However, as the popularity for SUVs soared over the last ten years, so did the competition. Thanks to their size and weight, the SUV moved from the off-road workhorse to the school run regular. The large size offered safety and space that was required by the modern family.
The change in habits meant that SUV manufacturers had to alter their cars. Now, SUVs needed so much more than off-road capabilities. They needed practical boot space. They needed great fuel mileage to get around town. They needed even better safety ratings to compete in the school-run race. The medium compact range evolved from this need. It is slightly smaller than the traditional 4×4, but with the space, and fuel efficiency necessary.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport answers every one of these questions. It is the perfect runaround for the family as we’ll see in more detail. But, don’t think that Land Rover have forgotten their roots. We took the Discovery off-road and trust us, there’s still a powerful workhorse under it’s flashy exterior.
First of all, let’s take a look at where the Discovery sits among its peers. Although the Land Rover is the Granddaddy of SUVs, there have been a flood of great competitors. The Discovery’s medium compact design lines it up against the BMW X3, the Audi Q5 and the Volvo XC60. They are middle of the range, luxury compacts. Land Rover also hope to entice Kia, Hyundai and Chevrolet 4×4 owners to an upgrade. With this in mind, let’s look at the Discovery’s features and see how it stands up.
Let’s start with the engine because there are some interesting developments here. The introductory model will come complete with Land Rover’s traditional 2.2 litre diesel. It’s a good, solid engine that has been the stalwart since Ford owned Land Rover. But, don’t rush out and buy one just yet. Later in the year, the Discovery will introduce a new engine that is much, much better. It will be an ed4 turbocharged diesel engine developed by Jaguar Land Rover themselves. Built in the same production line as many Jaguar models, the ed4 is a big step up. The engine is powerful and responsive. More importantly, it is also cleaner and more efficient. Wait another six months and the Discovery will be powerful, reliable and get even more mileage.
If there’s one thing you can rely on Land Rover for, it’s great ride quality. The Discovery Sport handles like a dream. It is relaxed and streamlined at low speeds. The steering is silky smooth and responsive, making it perfect for those short drives around town. It’s quiet and respectable. Take it out onto the open road, however, and it will still perform. At that point the turbo kicks in and you’ll feel that power and drive underneath. When you take it off-road, the Discovery still delivers, just as you’d hope.
The Discovery clearly hasn’t forgotten its routes here. The Land Rover has always put off-road power at its core. You need only look at the full range on Saxton 4×4 to see that. The Discovery is no different. With its compact design and ‘built for the school run’ features, we were originally sceptical. Now we almost feel guilty for ever thinking it. Let’s start by looking at the settings and features designed specifically for rough terrain. First of all you’ve got four different settings on the terrain response system. That’s general, mud, sand and then one setting for snow, gravel and grass. Then there’s the hill descent function, the stability control and the traction control. It has a wade depth of 60mm too. We had absolutely no trouble off road and we pushed it hard.
Space and Practicality
For the families looking at the Discovery, you’ll find plenty to get excited about. The Discovery is the first of its medium compact competitors to squeeze in seven seats. The BMW X3, the Audi Q5 and the Volvo XC60 only manage five. Although, we must admit, the back two seats are not the easiest to squeeze into. Once you’re there, however, there’s plenty of legroom. The seats are raised in a stadium style. The three back seats are raised and the two behind are raised again. If you’ve got kids, it will guard against car sickness in the back.
The boot space is enviable, much bigger than its competitors. Land Rover have discovered a trick by trimming the design of the suspension. This keeps it out of the boot space and allows for a large, flat area. This will double when you fold the back two seats down.
Naturally, when looking to a 4×4, you’re looking for safety and the Discovery doesn’t disappoint. It received top marks in crash test scenarios and holds a Whatcar? safety award for its airbag system. The Discovery features an innovative pedestrian airbag to increase all-round safety. It also comes complete with a sophisticated autonomous braking system.
With the Discovery, Land Rover have perfected the off-road and school run crossover. It is compact, yet spacious. It is powerful and functional off road yet retains an amazing mileage of 46mpg. With it’s £32,000 ($48,000) price tag, it’s fairly priced against the competition as well. Personally, we’d wait until the new engine is launched later this year. But when it does, it may just be the best new 4×4 on the market.