We weren’t impressed with the last generation Land Rover Discovery Sport, it was wallowy and had incredibly bad body roll, especially under sudden changes in direction. It certainly didn’t deserve the ‘Sport’ moniker.
But that was way back in 2016, and after just one generation Land Rover have completely overhauled the whole car. Built on an entirely new platform we were eager to see if the faux pas of the old model had been corrected.
Prices start at £31,575 for the entry level model, while our R-Dynamic S test car started at £41,425 with nearly another £5k worth of optional extras thrown at it. These included, 20” alloys – £1,605, panoramic roof – £1,100, metallic paint – £670, black exterior pack – £550 and privacy glass – £400.
As with a lot of manufacturers these days old and new models can be a case of spot the difference. Even though this Discovery Sport is an all-new model from the ground up, built on a new architecture, it’s evolution over revolution.
All the same lines are present, with a nip here and a tuck there. Far more a facelift than an all-new machine. The Discovery Sport now resembles its bigger brother far more closely.
There are three diesel engines to pick from, the D150, D180 and D240 all based on the 2.0 litre diesel Ingenium engine. Petrol offerings consist of a P200 and P250 variant, both are different tunes of the 2.0 litre petrol lump for Jaguar.
All are auto with the exception of an entry level front-wheel drive D150 model. Horsepower is denoted by the engines number.
Over the course of a day we tackled winding country roads, dual carriageways and even motorways in the P200. It felt about right, you really wouldn’t want to go for much less power than this so forget the D150 completely.
We had some time in the D180 too, while you lack a few horses compared to the petrol the extra torque more than makes up for it. Although the 0-60 time will increase to 9.1 seconds, the petrol manages the same sprint in just 8.5.
While the ‘Sport’ name doesn’t mean the same as in the Range Rover sense, this Discovery handles incredibly well compared to the old model. It’s far more composed, and has a poise that just wasn’t there before. Rather than feeling like jelly in the twisties you can actually press on at a fair old pace, confident in every well controlled movement of the Landy.
A nine-speed automatic is nice and smooth when up to speed, shoving it across to ‘sport’ and it will hang on to the cogs far longer, eeking out every bit of performance. Lower speeds are tad jerkier, with the gearbox hunting around for the best place to be. Taking manual control can be a blessing.
Off-road is where the Discovery Sport really shows what it can do. It may be the budget friendly Land Rover, but it can still wade through incredibly deep water, drag itself up steep mud caked inclines and balance on two wheels like no other in its class.
We spent a good few hours taking on the Yorkshire Land Rover Experience Centre and to put it bluntly, it’s quite incredible what the Discovery Sport can accomplish on road going tyres.
Oh, and this was all done in the cars we’d been driving all day. There were no special vehicles set up just for the course. Impressive.
Now sitting on the same platform as the new Evoque, the Disco Sport manages to fit seven seats, which is great for families.
The rear row adds practicality but they’re only really for ‘occasional’ use, you wouldn’t want to spend a long journey in them unless you’re especially short or especially young.
Up front the interior has taken a turn for the better, materials all feel of higher quality and the layout mimics the rest of the Land Rover family.
It looks as though you get the same glass based infotainment system as in the Velar and bigger Range Rovers, but it only appears that way. The lower section is still touch based, but made of glossy plastic and lacks the configurability of the higher spec system.
The only clever bit is that the climate controls double as the Terrain Response selection dials. While this frees up space it doesn’t always show you the selection you last made, instead reverting back to the heating controls.
You can opt for the ClearSight rearview mirror, ideal if you’re always going to have a car full of stuff, or people.
Boot space measures in at 754 litres with the third row folded, and squishes up to just 157 litres when they’re up.
It’s rare you see such a night and day difference between old and new in the car world. I had low hopes for the new Discovery Sport, but was well and truly wrong.
The petrol engines are a little thirsty, so stick with the diesels. A D180 in SE would be our pick, it’s a healthy balance of kit and cost sitting in the middle of the range.
R-Dynamic trim adds a few tarty touches, but isn’t really value for money.