Voyage of Discovery
The Discovery Sport adds another string to Land Rover’s bow, reports
When Land Rover introduced the Discovery Sport they billed it as the most versatile and capable premium compact SUV in the world.
It was a bold statement but you can’t blame a company that has been producing some of the finest off-roaders for halfa-century for having faith in their latest product.
While it might wear the Discovery name it shares much of its DNA with the big-selling Evoque.
The rounded nose and black trim around the wheel arches is reminiscent of its little brother and it also has the same front suspension and transverse engine layout, as well as a near identical chassis, at least as far as the B pillar.
From that point, though, it’s all new. The Sport is 91mm longer with a wheelbase that’s grown by 80mm. A sophisticated multi-link rear suspension helps preserve that freshly liberated interior space.
Land Rover have used that space well, adding an extra
Paul Acres row of seats (albeit strictly for children), and generating classleading legroom for the secondrow passengers.
Land Rover have introduced the Ingenium diesel engine range, which offers improved refinement, economy and emissions to the Discovery Sport but, at launch, it was only available with the 188bhp SD4 from the Evoque and Freelander and that was the motor in my test vehicle.
The Sport is beautifully put together. Everything you need to touch, from the door handles to the steering wheel stalks, feels satisfyingly robust and durable.
The infotainment system has, thankfully, been upgraded. The hi-res eight inch screen is crisp, bright and responsive. Some of the buttons are a bit of a stretch to reach but it’s a vast improvement over the old system
The seats are firm, but comfortable. They’re heated and cooled too. There’s plenty of head and legroom for occupants in the front and the high seating position and generous glass area guarantees an excellent view.
Soundproofing is excellent. At cruising speeds there’s just a distant hum audible from beneath the bonnet and wind and road noise is conspicuous by its absence.
The nine-speed automatic is an £1,800 option but it’s worth the extra outlay. It’s smooth, responsive and doesn’t miss a beat.
Although the ride feels on the firm side at low speeds, as you pick up the pace it quickly becomes more composed, insulating the cabin from most surface imperfections.
The electrically assisted steering is a touch vague but it is precise and direct and the car feels nimble and sure-footed. Land Rover have done an admirable job of keeping body roll to a minimum too.
The Discovery Sport is a welcome and worthy addition to the Land Rover stable. Its one weakness, the engine, will be resolved with the introduction of the new range of diesel units. That should be enough to turn what is already a very good car, into a brilliant one.