In Depth

Land Rover Discovery Sport: Prices, specs and reviews

Land Rover's newest car is an up-market replacement for the entry-level Freelander.

Land Rover's Discovery Sport is a new premium-edged compact SUV tasked with the job of replacing the Freelander and offering a more practical alternative to the Range Rover Evoque. 

Compared to the Freelander 2 it replaces, the car is a more upmarket affair, sporting a modern, fluid design and a noticeably higher price tag. It's still a versatile machine, though, and comes with seven seats as standard as well as the suite of off-road abilities you'd expect from the marque. 

Now available with Jaguar Land Rover's Ingenium engines, the Discovery Sport is a smooth drive on road too and the critics are impressed. Auto Express named it the best compact SUV for 2015 and [1] Top Gear chose it for their 2016 family car of the year, saying it's flexible, practical and an excellent choice for families. 

Here's everything you need to know about the Discovery Sport. 

Design

The Discovery Sport is a more modern-looking car than to the Freelander 2 it replaces, thanks to the use of some newly established compact SUV design tropes, added to flicks and features poached from some of Land Rover's other offerings.

The car is largely based on the Range Rover Evoque and pitched as a more versatile, practical version of the stylish small Range Rover, but with added passenger and boot space.

Auto Express says: "You only have to glance at the Discovery Sport to confirm it’s a Land Rover product", especially with the rounded nose and slim grille at the front and the crosshair-style taillights at the back.

The sloping roofline makes the back end of the car appear slightly hunched and sporty, but the Discovery Sport remains one of the most practical cars in its class – the looks don't really impede on the cabin.

It's a longer car than the Freelander 2, but it's sat lower and has a narrower track.

It's a design you'll see copied on Land Rover's next car too. In 2017, the Discovery Sport will gain a larger sibling when the fifth generation full-sized Discovery goes on sale. Land Rover revealed the car in full at this month's Paris Motor Show, showcasing an SUV using near-identical styling cues to the Disco Sport. 

Practicality

CarWow says the Discovery Sport can't really be considered a full-sized seven-seater, although it adds that the third row of seats has enough room for adults. Space inside the cabin is decent and the seats are "supportive and comfortable", it says, and the car boasts family friendly layout, with plenty of useful storage spaces and bins.

However, with the third row in place, the boot is "almost non-existent". Folding the seats away opens up a 981-litre storage space, which grows to 1,698 litres with the middle row folded flat.

Safety

Family buyers will be pleased to hear the Discovery Sport is a safe car. It's received a full five-star rating in Euro NCAP testing and comes fitted with autonomous emergency braking and a lane departure warning system as standard.

There are also new optional safety systems available. The Intelligent Speed Limiter uses traffic sign recognition to detect changes in the speed limit and either prompts the driver to slow or does it automatically.

In addition, you can upgrade the lane departure warning system to a full-blown lane-keep assistant. This uses cameras to detect line markings and can automatically counter-steer the car back into lane if you veer out. It comes with a driver fatigue monitor, which analyses the way the car is being driven and can alert the driver if it thinks fatigue is beginning to affect safety.  

Interior

CarBuyer says the interior is well made and with controls that are thoughtfully arranged, slotting neatly between the stylish interior of the Evoque and the more utilitarian look to be found inside the big Discovery. However, it could be more biased towards the Evoque's standards, as it doesn't have the sort of flair you'll see in rivals such as the Audi Q5.

Chunky buttons can be operated through gloves – a nod to the car's offroad capabilities – while a large, rotary gear selector sits underneath the centre console, which slopes upwards into a dashboard featuring a centrally mounted infotainment screen and plenty of storage slots.

The Discovery Sport, unlike many of its rivals, is actually a seven-seater. Technically, it's a 5+2 – the two seats in the boot aren't large and don't come with a lot of space. But the ability to carry seven in a package not much longer than a family hatchback is a coup.

Standard equipment is decent and the options list is long. On the entry level car, you'll get a half-leather interior, plus the 8ins touchscreen, Bluetooth, cruise control and climate control. For sat nav as standard, you need to step up to SE Tech trim.

For the 2017 model, Land Rover is introducing new technology options. You can now spec the Discovery Sport with the InControl Touch Pro infotainment system, consisting of a 10.2ins touchscreen operated in a similar manner to a smartphone, with swipes, prods and pinches.

Equipment

Standard equipment on the entry level car is decent and you'll get a half-leather interior, plus the 8ins touchscreen, Bluetooth, cruise control and climate control. An autonomous emergency braking system is also included, as is a lane departure warning system.

In order to get satellite navigation thrown in as standard, you'll need to step up to SE Tech trim, which comes with other convenience additions like a power-assisted gesture tailgate.

Topping up your car with extras can be done through the various option packs Land Rover offers. On a standard Discovery Sport SE, packs like the Connect Pack can be attached for £415. This will give your car a Wi-Fi hotspot and various InControl apps that allow you to do things like pre-heating the cabin.

There are two lighting packs – for £1,245 you get adaptive Xenon headlamps with automatic high beam assist; for £985 you get non adaptive Xenons. A range of styling packs is also available, as well as rugged options like detachable and electric tow bars.

Higher spec cars can be fitted with higher spec toys. The entertainment pack gives an improved sound system, a television screen and InControl touch pro navigation functions, allowing you to pinch and zoom around the touchscreen like a smartphone. However, you'll have to start with a high spec car to unlock the pack which is priced at £1,900. Screens can be fitted to the back of the front seats alongside this pack for £4,140.

Driving technology packs are also available. The all-round vision assist pack introduces a surround camera system, as well as a blind spot monitor, traffic sign recognition and a head-up display for £2,385. More or less the same options are presented in the driver assist tech pack, which drops the head up display for park assist features. The pack, which starts at £1,970, makes it much easier to parallel park by identifying spaces and being able to both pull up and exit the spot automatically.

Engines

In terms of engines, there are only two choices, both of them 2.0-litre diesel four-cylinders, one with 150bhp and the other with more power at 180bhp. They replace the 2.2-litre SD4 diesel the car launched with and are far lighter, quieter and more efficient.

Auto Express says the newer engines bring about a new level of refinement – at cruising speed, "the engine note subsides to a faint background hum", feeding back into the car's quiet, comfortable nature.

A six-speed manual gearbox comes as standard, but the magazine recommends you equip the optional nine-speed automatic transmission if you can afford the £1,800 premium.

Faster engine options are likely to emerge, reports Autocar, with a range-topping Special Vehicle Operations (SVR) version on the cards.

The magazine has published spy shots of a Discovery Sport undergoing testing, with a masked-off but sportier-looking front end, and speculates it could be powered by a petrol version of the 2.0-litre Ingenium power unit, with around 298bhp. The mag notes that Land Rover has officially said there are no plans in place for a petrol version to go on sale in the UK, but should an SVR happen, it could arrive at some point in 2017.

Efficiency

The new 2.0-litre Ingenium engines are more efficient than the 2.2-litre SD4 power unit the car launched with.

The less powerful 148bhp version of the 2.0-litre delivers a claimed 57.7mpg and 129g/km CO2 emissions, meaning a road tax bill of £110 a year. The six-speed manual gearbox is the only option available.

Bumping things up to the 178bhp version doesn’t harshly impact efficiency, although there is a slight dent. Official MPG figures are rated at 52.2 and it emits slightly more CO2 at 139g/km. This pushes the car into VED band E, meaning you'll pay £20 more a year in tax.

Off-road

When the going gets tough, the Discovery Sport is "predictably excellent", Evo says. Ground clearance isn't as great as on Land Rover's bigger cars, but the narrow profile "affords breathing room down tight tracks" and it's capable of everything the owners will demand – and more.

As standard, drivers get Land Rover's Terrain Response system and Hill Descent Control. Wading depth comes in at 23.5ins and the short overhangs front and rear mean there are excellent approach and departure angles.

Reviews

CarBuyer's verdict is positive. The Freelander's upmarket replacement is a "good value, remarkable, capable, and practical family SUV", it says. The car ticks three major boxes: an eye-catching design, brilliant driving characteristics and – importantly for Land Rover enthusiasts – off-road prowess. 

The site's favourite model is the 178bhp engine in HSE trim. It's one of the more expensive cars but features creature comforts such as satellite navigation, keyless entry, automatic lights and wiper. Parking sensors are also thrown in. Luxurious additions like 19ins alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof and a full leather interior are included. 

In view of all this, Auto Express named the Discovery Sport its compact SUV of the year in 2015. Fine driving dynamics and seven seat versatility are two of the car's best traits. The addition of the new Ingenium engines has made the package even more appealing. 

Of note is just how calming Land Rover's entry level SUV is to drive. The cabin is very quiet, even at speed, and is mated to a composed suspension setup. 

It's "one very complete family car", says the magazine, which recommends the 178bhp engine in SE Tech trim. 

Prices

Prices begin from £31,095 for the 150bhp engine option with a six-speed manual gearbox and in entry level SE trim. The more powerful engine kicks off at £32,795 and the cheapest automatic gearbox begins at £34,600.

There is also a wide choice of trims. On top of SE, there's SE Tech, which piles sat nav on top of the standard equipment and starts from £32,845. It's the trim What Car? recommends, saying the £1,800 jump from entry-level spec is "well worth it" for the addition of key extras such as navigation, automatic wipers and lights, front-facing parking sensors and powered tailgate.

Added to that there are three derivatives of HSE trim, which start with the basic at £35,785, for which drivers get leather seats, Xenon lights, keyless entry, 19ins alloy wheels, a reversing camera and an 11-way stereo speaker system. Next up, HSE Luxury, from £41,595, adds ten-way adjustable memory electric seats, plus heated and cooled seats back and front while semi-autonomous parking will automatically steer the car into tight spots, both parallel and bay.

The most expensive car is the HSE Dynamic Lux, which adds new styling features in the form of the Black Pack and costs £46,510.

Rivals

Key premium rivals for the Discovery Sport include the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

The Land Rover is a new car, so that makes it a tempting proposition compared to the Audi, which is starting to get on a bit. The Q5 is due for replacement later this year - or early 2017 - but the current version is already more expensive than the Disco Sport, with a starting price of £32,580. Added to that, it's only a five-seater.

Prices also came to the fore when Top Gear pitted the Discovery Sport against both the X3 and the GLC, saying that BMW's offering starts from £33,945, while the Mercedes product also comes at a premium, kicking off at £35,580.

And again, while they're very spacious five-seaters, neither car can match the Land Rover in terms of how many people-carrying power both are five seaters, it adds.

In addition, TG feels the BMW simply isn't good enough to justify being an SUV. The GLC is better and also lives up to Mercedes' typical strengths – comfort, refinement, quality and long-distance cruising – but the Land Rover comes out on top though.

"It corners and rides remarkably," says the mag, and when the going gets tough, it's simply unmatched.

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