Land Rover Discovery Sport Test Drive Review
2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Land Rover Discovery Sport Review

Car Tested: 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport; Road Test No. 620

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 53.61 – 72.20 lakhs

The Discovery Sport is a practical package, a spacious cruiser with good off-roading capabilities

Just recently, in my Mercedes G63 AMG review I mentioned how I love sedans but I’ve been doing a lot of SUV reviews of late. Just when I was pondering over a list of pending cars for review and drooling over the names of the Audi RS6 Avant, RS7, etc., Faisal pinged me and told me that my next is going to be the Land Rover Discovery Sport. My reaction was not much more than a yawn and even though I’m not much of a fan of Jaguar Land Rover vehicles to be frank, I do find them quite interesting. The Discovery Sport is the replacement for the Freelander 2 even though the latter is still on sale. We took the Disco Sport out for a spin and some mild off-roading to see how it fares.

Motor Quest: When Land Rover was incepted around 67 years back, all its vehicles were painted only in military green that was used from the surplus of aircraft paint. The company sold its 1 millionth vehicle in 1976 while the first one, i.e the Centre Steer came out in 1947. The vehicle that we have reviewed here is a replacement for the Freelander 2, uses the mechanicals from the Evoque and is called a Discovery!

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The Discovery Sport has a very youthful face that looks refreshing

Exteriors – The Land Rover Freelander 2 has very boxy looks and it looks quite outdated now. The Discovery Sport is quite a jump ahead when it comes to styling. The Sport looks sexy on the outside and has just the perfect dimensions. The design is very much inspired from the Evoque, evident from the bonnet, grille, side profile and of course the head and tail lamps and the designers at Land Rover seem to have done a splendid job in making this SUV. The Discovery Sport has a very nice stance and is much bigger than other SUVs that are available in the same price segment – a la Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60 to name a few.

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The vehicle has a nice stance and it is well-proportioned throughout

The SUV looks sporty and borrows various elements from the Evoque

Taking a closer look at the exteriors, the headlights might look similar to that of the Evoque but they are quite different. The lamps on the Discovery Sport have a lot of detailing in them and the shape of the LED DRLs looks quite unique, a big change from the regular rectangular or squarish DRLs that we are so used to seeing in other luxury vehicles. The rectangle fog lamps are mounted in their usual spot, having a trapezoidal-shaped surround while the grille is the usual Land Rover fare. The side profile of the SUV has a very sporty edge thanks to the body cladding, rear spoiler and also the A and C-pillars which are the only pillars to be finished in body colour. The C-pillar is quite big and stands out.

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A lot of styling elements like the grille and lights come from the Evoque

The rear of the Discovery Sport looks like a bigger version of the Evoque in every way. The bumper with its black cladding and silver skid plate, LED tail lamps and the small glass area all remind us of the Evoque. Again, the tail lamps have a lot of detailing in them but somehow we felt that they look a bit aftermarket and Land Rover could have definitely done a better job on this. The alloys on the Discovery Sport have a decent design that doesn’t excite much. The top HSE Luxury variant of the SUV comes with a blackened roof and A-pillar which looks much more sportier in our opinion while the one that we drove (lower variant) is also quite eye-catching.

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The interiors are just like a typical Land Rover, very well laid out

Interiors – Unfortunately, as sporty as the exteriors look, the interiors are quite simple. The dashboard looks similar to the one on other Land Rover SUVs and the layout is pretty neat with lesser buttons as compared to the Evoque. It looks good, no doubt, but lacks the sporty appeal that the exteriors are so reeking of. There is a lot of detailing in the interiors too and the colour combination of black and beige looks super. There are also a lot of metal inserts which add the wee bit premium touch that a car in this segment requires. The build quality is excellent and the quality of materials is pretty much top-notch.

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Good quality materials have been used, lots of space for passengers

There are a ton of features and the seats are very comfortable too

The dashboard comes wrapped in a soft touch material while the steering wheel is also leather-wrapped and feels very good to hold. The wheel has controls for the phone, audio system as well as cruise control. The AC vents on the centre console are placed below the 8-inch screen. There is a start-stop button behind the steering wheel and the instrument cluster is quite similar to the one on the Evoque. The screen on the cluster displays some more information about the terrain response system. The touch screen gets the InControl user interface which is good to operate once you get the hang of it. The screen shows the status of the centre differential as well as steering input settings.

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With the third row knocked off, boot space is excellent

As expected, the seats get a lot of adjustment options to help you find the perfect driving position. All the seats are very comfortable and there is lots of leg room both at the front and rear. There is a prominent transmission hump though and it hampers with the leg area of the passenger seated in the middle of the second row. Land Rover offers an optional third row seat but this seat is placed directly on the floor which means that you need to sit with your knees pointing up, which isn’t comfortable at all. Also, the third row lacks in leg space and it is best suited for small kids only. One can flip forward the seats with the touch of a button to boost boot space even further. There is a charging socket in the last row too. The AC performs nicely and there are vents on the B-Pillar, with AC controls even in the last row.

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The engine is offered in two states of tune – TD4 with 147 HP and SD4 with 187 HP

Performance – The Land Rover Discovery Sport is offered with a 2.2-litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged diesel engine. The oil-burner is offered in two states of tune. The variants with the TD4 trim, including our test vehicle, have the lower state of tune in which the engine churns out 147 HP of power at 3500 RPM and 400 Nm of torque from 1750 RPM. The higher SD4 trim pumps out an extra 40 HP of power and 20 Nm of torque. The engine is mated to the same 9-speed ZF automatic transmission that is also available with the Range Rover Evoque. The Discovery Sport takes 10.5 seconds to complete the 0-100 km/hr sprint which isn’t impressive.

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The oil-burner delivers power in a linear manner, power punch is missing

The engine cruises well and gives good mileage, poor outright punch

When you flick the gearknob to D and set off, you realise that the engine has almost negligible turbo lag and the SUV responds nicely to throttle inputs but acceleration isn’t aggressive or something that would make you go WOW. Power delivery from the engine is very smooth and linear all the way to the redline. The oil-burner is lacking on power and its top-end performance is really less than satisfactory. The Discovery Sport maxes out at 180 km/hr. The 2.2-litre unit, however, really excels when we talk about refinement or NVH levels which are just brilliant. This is one engine that isn’t meant for quick bursts of acceleration but rather smooth cruising on the highways.

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Gearshifts are very smooth and the Discovery Sport gives excellent mileage

There is a Sport mode on offer too which ups the performance by a very marginal amount. Again, you do not get pushed back into your seat when you give the car the beans and it accelerates linearly. The Discovery Sport cruises at 100 km/hr at 1400 RPM and 1500 RPM in D and S modes respectively and the engine never feels strained while munching miles. The only thing going against the TD4 tune is the lack of top-end and outright performance. The SUV churns out good mileage too and we managed to extract 13-14 km/l on our highway tests which is really good for a vehicle of this class. The transmission is also butter smooth and gear shifts go unnoticed to the driver. Land Rover has always been known for its off-road capabilities and the Discovery Sport is no different. It has a 4WD Terrain Response System that has different modes and settings for gravel, mud, snow, etc. types of road surfaces and we must say that this works terrifically well.

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This Land Rover absorbs undulations with ease, remains composed throughout

Driving Dynamics – The Land Rover Discovery Sport has an all-independent suspension and hence the SUV succeeds in producing excellent levels of ride. Be it on smooth tarmac or pothole-laden roads, the Discovery Sport doesn’t disappoint at all and it will keep all its passengers happy while gobbling up potholes and craters with utmost ease. The HSE variant which is the topmost trim also comes with an Adaptive Suspension that functions even better. If you plan to go off-roading, the water wading capacity of 600 mm should keep you happy while the Hill Descent Control function is also useful.

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Handling is good by SUV standards, understeers on hard cornering

Ride, handling, off-roading is where the Discovery Sport really excels in

The steering on the Discovery Sport is on the heavier side but it doesn’t tire out your muscles while manoeuvring the vehicle in the city. At high speeds, the wheel gains some weight and feels confidence inspiring while the vehicle is also a very good handler by SUV standards. There is some amount of understeer which is mostly noticeable when taking very sharp turns at high speeds, otherwise the Discovery provides a very pleasant handling experience. The 235 section tyres provide satisfactory levels of grip across various road surfaces while braking performance is also very good.

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The vehicle is loaded with safety tech but after-sales needs improvement

Safety and After Sales Service – The Land Rover Discovery Sport comes loaded with features like seven airbags (driver and front passenger, driver knee, side airbags for first two rows). It also gets features like ABS with EBD, Electronic Traction Control, Hill Start Assist, Roll Stability Control, Dynamic Stability Control, TPMS, Emergency Brake Assist and Trailer Stability Assist. In terms of after sales service, Land Rover still has a long way to go before it can match the service quality levels as well as the network spread of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi.

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The Discovery Sport is a practical SUV that fulfils most needs of a family

Verdict – The Land Rover Discovery Sport is one SUV that will largely appeal to families and those people who want a comfortable cruiser and not a performance oriented vehicle. The British model excels in most departments like comfort, features, looks and mileage and the only thing going against the car is the engine’s performance. However, not everyone out there wants to compete in a drag race and hence the 147 HP trim will suffice to most buyers who restrict usage to the city. For those who want that extra bit of power, they have an option to choose the SD4 trim with more horses. However, while Land Rover calls the Discovery Sport a 7-seater, we really beg to disagree. The third row has so less space that even your kids will complain after a while and the optional third row seat is ridiculously priced at almost Rs. 1.7 lakhs which is just expensive. Buy the Discovery Sport if you’re a family of four and need the boot space to stash all your luggage and enjoy that scenic drive to your favourite hill station, the British SUV won’t disappoint at all.

The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport ticks most of the boxes and it turns out to be a good alternative to its rivals, the only downside being the lack of performance from the lower tuned diesel mill.

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But is the Discovery Sport better than the X3, GLE, Q5 and XC60?

What’s Cool

* Looks uber cool, leagues better than Freelander 2
* Well laid out interiors with lots of space
* Excellent levels of ride and handling

What’s Not So Cool

* Engine lacks outright performance
* Third row is just for namesake, not suitable for adults
* After-sales service levels need to be improved

Alternatives: Volvo XC60, Mercedes GLE, BMW X3, Audi Q5

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The third row is just not practical and is very costly too

Land Rover Discovery Sport Specifications

* Engine: 2179cc, 4-cylinder, DOHC, 16-valve
* Power: 150 PS @ 3500 RPM
* Torque: 400 Nm @ 1750 RPM
* Transmission: 9-speed ZF automatic
* 0-100 km/hr: 10.3 seconds
* Top Speed: 180 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 13-15 km/l
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: McPherson Struts (Front), Integral Coil Spring (Rear)
* Tyres: 235/60/R18
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front and Rear)
* Safety: Seven airbags, ABS with EBD, Hill Start Assist, RSC, DSC, Traction Control

Land Rover Discovery Sport Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4600 mm X 2173 mm X 1724 mm
* Wheelbase: 2741 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.80 metres
* Ground clearance: 212 mm
* Boot Volume: 480 litres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 65-litres
* Kerb Weight: 1817 kgs

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The Discovery Sport won’t make you grin while driving but it won’t keep you sad either

Testers’ Note:

“I find the lower trim having lower horsepower ridiculous. Someone buying such an expensive car doesn’t care about mileage at all and thus Land Rover’s decision of going for the 150 PS tune is surprising. That aside, there isn’t much exciting in the Discovery Sport, yes, it’s a very practical car and excels in certain departments like ride quality, comfort, space and off-roading. For those looking for excitement at this price point, there is of course the Range Rover Evoque.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“I was quite impressed with the Discovery Sport as it is a formidable replacement to the Freelander. It scores high on practicality with the 7-seater option which should be quite useful to Indian buyers. Nobody masters off-road capability better than Land Rover and the Discovery Sport gets full marks on that front. However, for its weight, I found it underpowered and if only Land Rover had given more horses under the hood, it would have been a terrific all rounder.” – Javeid Khan, Deputy Editor, MotorBeam.
“I don’t like SUVs much and while the Land Rover Discovery Sport is a good vehicle, I really feel that it is the jack of all trades and master of none. For someone who is looking for performance, this SUV is a no-no. However, I’m quite impressed with its off-roading capabilities and of course the splendid ride and handling. If I had to buy an SUV in this segment, will I pick the Discovery Sport? Well, I would let it pass and pick one of its rivals, mostly a Scandinavian.” – Parth Gohil, Road Tester, MotorBeam.
“When I saw the pictures of the Discovery Sport, the design looked a bit quirky. The opinion remained the same when I saw it in person. It has space to seat five people comfortably but the third row seats aren’t even suitable for kids. The most disappointing part of the package is the under powered engine which doesn’t excite. However, take it off the road and it performs brilliantly. Will I consider buying it? No unless it comes with a more powerful engine.” – Aman Sancheti, Road Tester, MotorBeam.

Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta