Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: January 27, 2016
The new Land Rover Discovery Sport looks extremely well mannered, dapper even, like a scaled-down version of the luxurious Range Rover Sport. But you should be aware of something very important. The Discovery’s flawless and posh façade masks inner-workings that are a bit of a let down. Despite being the entry-level Land Rover in the lineup with an appealing starting price of $41,790, the English bulldog that we tested carried a very stimulating price tag of over $56,000. For that kind of money, you’d surely expect the Discovery Sport to offer the capability and performance to keep it ahead of the pack.
The Disco has strong competitors in its class and frankly cannot afford to put on anything less than a stellar display. Models like the Lexus RX, BMW X3, and the Audi Q5 set the bar high leaving little room for error on the Disco’s account. Having the Land Rover moniker adorned on the front grille can only get you so far at the local Tennis club.
The good news first. When I first brought the Aintree Green (just a tad lighter than British Racing Green) Discovery Sport home, my girlfriend immediately blurted out that this was her favourite looking Land Rover out of all the ones I had tested. She hadn’t even stepped inside of it yet but we both agreed, the new Disco Sport is a stunner.
The curvaceous body mimics the Range Rover Sport, and can even be had with the same colour combinations to achieve that white body / black roof look that I find very appealing. Updated LED headlights and taillights are affixed to the bow and stern, and the 20-inch wheels top off the well-rounded exterior package.
Although not as opulent as the Evoque, the interior is as tidy as Prince William’s dressing room. At first glance everything does look promising. The Tan Windsor leather seating is quite supple and comfortable during long trips. Owners will find easy access, a roomy cabin and fishbowl-like sight lines to the stern.
The second row is quite spacious and astoundingly comfortable for a crossover of this size, and the seats are slide-adjustable to allow for even more room. The humongous fixed panoramic roof helps cast away any feelings of claustrophobia, but it does not slide or tilt open. My tester also came equipped with the $1,900 third row option that we found quite difficult to get into and it didn’t provide much room for actual adults to comfortably sit in.
However, it doesn’t take long for the novelty of it all to wear off because the Discovery Sport, well, isn’t exactly sporty to drive. The nine-speed automatic, while very smart in theory to save fuel, is tweaked very oddly for this crossover. It is clumsy at shifting and combined with the 4-cylinder engine’s turbo lag, the Discovery Sport creates a frustrating driving experience.
Floor the gas pedal and the bad-tempered transmission will stick to the higher gears for far too long, denying you the right to zip through traffic swiftly. The harsh and sudden downshifts that follow feels like you had just caused something to go amiss in the tranny. It is a challenge to drive the Discovery Sport smoothly - the upcoming Ingenium engines from Jaguar Land Rover will hopefully address these issues.
The Disco Sport moves awkwardly through turns and leans heavily around tight corners. When it is pushed hard, the Sport does respond with the electronic stability control (ESC) to combat any oversteer kicking in, but then ultimately steers the car wide of your target.
Furthermore, the suspension is very bumpy and reacts to every pothole and speed bump by reverberating throughout the car’s body structure. It was most notable from the rear seats, which would shake violently when going over rough terrain. It is an upsetting balance that will be sure to keep this car away from any track days.
On the upside, the Discovery Sport does still live up to the Land Rover go-anywhere philosophy. Water tight doors that would have saved the Titanic come standard and allow the SUV to wade water up to 600 mm. Thanks to the special Terrain Response modes, the Disco can crawl its way out of mud, sand, snow, or rocks. These challenges often go unheeded by other light-duty crossovers but regardless, most of these Sports will face the challenge of discovering parking spots at a mall before they hit up a trail.
The Discovery Sport had some niceties included like heated seats in the first and second row ($800 option), a heated steering wheel that came in handy during some cold winter nights, ambient lighting that can be customized to fit your mood, navigation, and a blessed rear camera. The infotainment system is featured on a small touch screen that makes you reach into the dash to operate. The system unfortunately was very slow to respond to my inputs, and froze on occasion when attempting to enter an address into the unit.
These advantages aren’t quite revolutionary or ground breaking enough to pull the Discovery Sport up and over the competition. But for those looking to have a crossover that combines a sense of luxury with off-roading prowess, then the Discovery Sport should be on the top of their docket. Personally to save some coin, I would opt for the SE or HSE model ($41,790 and $46,790, respectively) instead of the HSE Luxury pack, which starts at a hefty $50,290.
I would also avoid the $1,900 third-row seating option unless you plan on ferrying some very small children. If you desire a fully functional third row, you may need to look at some larger options like the Land Rover LR4.
If it were based on looks and heritage alone, the Discovery Sport would score perfect tens. However, after actually driving and living with it for a week, I realized that the Land Rover just couldn’t match up to the competition in performance and driving refinement. Buyers cross shopping with the Audi Q5, BMW X3, or even the new Lexus RX might just discover that this car can be a bargain when optioned out correctly but in its top trim form, the Discovery Sport unfortunately gets trounced by the competition.
型号 Model: 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE Luxury
顏色 Paint Type: Aintree Green
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $41,790
試車售價 Price as Tested: $50,290
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,741
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,589 / 2,173 / 1,724
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,795
引擎 Engine: 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder with direct injection, dual-independent VVT
最大馬力 Horsepower: 240 hp @ 5,800 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 251 lb-ft @ 1,750 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway/Combined)- L/100 km: 11.9 / 9.0 / 10.9
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P245/45R20