Go easy on options
1 It isn’t a Discovery
The Discovery Sport shares its platform with the Evoque and rolls out of the same UK factory (the new Discovery is based on the bigger Range Rover architecture). The Disco Sport’s versatility — it has five and seven-seat versions with diesel or petrol — has made it the company’s top-seller.
2 It is relatively sporty
Land Rover’s hallmark is off-road competence and this luxury SUV follows the formula with a capability well beyond what most owners will ever ask. That prowess rarely translates into on-road entertainment but the Disco Sport is surprisingly nimble on winding tarmac. Responsive steering and good front-end grip put its cornering turn-in on par with many passenger cars and it doesn’t toss the occupants around in the process. Our version was powered by a Ford-built 2.0litre petrol engine (177kW/ 340Nm) that endows decent acceleration if you’re not trying to match the claimed 8.2L/100km fuel use.
3 Nine-speed auto is irrelevant in Australia
The standard auto uses nine gears to help achieve that fuel figure and the only way we could get ninth was to manually select it. It’s a tall overdrive that would be ideal in 130km/h areas of the US and Europe but to see it in action in Australia will require a trip to the Northern Territory. The eight effective ratios are pretty unobtrusive but the transmission can hesitate as the software tries to translate right foot pressure to the relevant cogs.
4 Some safety aids are optional
Seven airbags and autonomous emergency braking are standard on all Disco Sports, as is lanedeparture warning — so they should be in a prestige SUV. You have to pay ($1180) for blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control is another option — and you can’t specify it with the petrol engine. Head off the tarmac and the “terrain response” software has three settings based on the view out of the windows: sand, mud/ ruts and grass/gravel/snow. Simple and effective.
5 Options will mount up
Land Rover isn’t alone in the premium SUV ranks for charging big money for options. It takes very little to whack $20,000 on to the Disco Sport’s starting price of about $67,700 drive-away. Paint other than standard white will add $1340; double that for “premium metallic” and a contrasting roof is $950. An entertainment pack bundles 17-speaker Meridian audio, TV, upgraded satnav and digital radio for $4350; another $8190 will buy the “complete dynamic” pack with revised grille and bumpers, 19-inch wheels, centre console with a sliding armrest, fog lights and xenon headlamps.