Land Rover’s big selling Disco Sport now has an all new power unit that’s the first fruits of the all new Staffordshire engine plant. With only 2.0 capacity. how does it perform out on the road?
Land Rover have never struggled to find owners for their cars despite the premium cost. Its fair to say that you only get what you pay for and at this level of motoring, image is indeed everything. The current range continue to be well respected vehicles in terms of off road ability, class and style. But Land Rover have also embraced all things green and this newly launched Discovery Sport promises to bring new standards of efficiency and economy to their entry level model.
Gone is the Ford / PSA sourced 2.2 litre which gave a good head of speed but could be rowdy when hurried. The new 2.0D “ingenium” plant is an all new JLR designed product built in the midlands at a state-of-the-art £500 million factory in Wolverhampton. It comes in two power options of 150 and 180Ps – the car on test here is the HSE 150Ps. Emissions are as low as just 129G/Km and whole life costs are brought into the modern world with servicing intervals being extended to 21,000 miles.
The car on test also featured “e-Capability” which means the gearing and wheel / tyre equipment are carefully selected to provide the most efficient driveline – the car also featured a manual six speed gearbox. Styling wise, there is no chance you could mistake this for anything other than a Land Rover product. The Sport has replaced the old Freelander and despite the metalwork being different, there’s a definite silhouette shared between them and the current Evoque which this car shares a platform – by no means a bad thing, its a very smart looking car.
Good ground clearance, rustic looking bumpers and its lofty stance subconsciously hammer home a feeling that this car is urban tough. The panels all align with neat precision and first contact items such as the door handles seem to be tough and chunky. The paintwork on first inspection seemed deep and evenly covered but a close look revealed a couple of imperfections on the front wings close to the headlamps – nothing major but not ideal for a car that retails in a premium sector. Niggles aside, its every inch a cut above some rivals in terms of class and brand appeal.
Clambering up into the cabin you’re greeted to that reassuring aroma of carpet and hide. A sprinkling of piano black adds a touch of class too – if you can put up with the dreaded finger marks. The seats are wonderfully padded and supportive featuring one of the very best heating features I’ve come across. Electric seat adjustment and rake / reach movement on the steering wheel result in a millimetre perfect driving position. The pedals are well spaced with plenty of room next to the clutch. The clutch pedal is not as light as your average family hatch but not too heavy as to becoming an issue in heavy traffic.
The test car featured the optional heated rim – sounds a bit of a gimmick but great in the recent cold weather. I do love Land Rover / Range Rover steering wheels, nice thick leather cladding a really meaty and chunky rim. All your controls for the trip computer, cruise control and audio options are to be found here – easy to decipher once accustomed to the car. Some improvements to the quality of the column sticks seem to be noticeable, they just seem to feel a bit more solid than models of yore. Decent ergonomics and a cracking heating system top off what is a nice and cosy commanding driving environment.
You’ll find plenty of space for most drivers and the passengers fare very well too, the rear bench seat is very relaxing to perch upon for a while. There’s little to complain about the ride comfort either. Its slightly firm at very low speeds but this seems to transform into a serene and relaxed vehicle once some speed is achieved. Refinement is good, only when you push the vehicle really hard does the engine become rowdy and clattery. Wind noise is low and road noise is only provoked with concrete or very rough surfaced roads.
It accelerates smoothly and cleanly and providing you keep the tacho needle above 1400rpm, there is oodles of torque to pull you through the rev range. As mentioned before, noise only becomes an irritant if you really flay the needle eastward. For 90% of the time the Disco Sport drives in Sade mode – very much a smooth operator. Despite the Freelander shape echoing slightly into this new vehicle, the difference is night and day. If you are considering coming out of the now deleted model into the Disco Sport… trust me you are in for a treat.
Despite the model being the smallest Land Rover model, you wont feel short changed so far as refinement and comfort matter – its all very impressive and fitting with the brand. Even though the manual gearbox has a slightly noticeable rubbery shift feel, the throw is pleasingly short. The steering turns in well, there’s a bit of communicative feel at the rim and it genuinely puts a grin on your fizog if you want to become a hooligan – everything works just right and the brakes are simply spot on with no fade or grab.
Boot space amounts to 1700 litres with the rear seats folded down and the loadbay is both long and wide but I was a little saddened to note that the rather neat and tough looking load lash rails and adjustable hooks are an optional extra. Going back to the interior for a moment, I also thought some of the interior plastics felt slightly cheap to the touch. This is especially noticeable with the face level vents, they seem loose and flimsy when adjusting them – cars are very tactile things, especially in this class.
I also noted some clumsy panel fixing where the rear wing panel meets the inner panel where the tailgate closes. One side was smooth and well joined while the other had a visible ripple where the two panels are spot welded together and shrunk. Am I nit-picking here? well were are talking about a premium brand with a hefty price tag, it just seemed disappointingly mass produced if that makes sense. Yet none of the gripes detract from what really is a lovely entry into the world of Land Rover, it looks nice, its great to drive and does the brand image proud… a very impressive car.
AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 9/10
The Humble Opinion:
I drove the old 2.2 version a little while ago so I was apprehensive about this latest engine. My initial thoughts were proven wrong. Jaguar Land Rover engineers have done a great job of extracting a gallon from a pint pot as I think this Wolverhampton built engine is a gem. Its lively and economical while also being quite refined for almost all of the time.
Despite the model being the smallest passenger Land Rover, you wont feel short changed. There’s bags of image and style – especially in this top line HSE trim. It handles like a dream, for sure its no go kart but its as near to neutral as a family car as a car of this stature can get. The fuel economy is very good too and with just 129G/Km emission output, the Discovery Sport is as close to being as green as the grille badge as you possibly get.
It needs a little spit and polish in terms of some aspects of build quality but nothing feels like its going to drop off or rattle. The infotainment system and sat nav could do with an update in terms of its appearance and operation but again its not a deal changer at the moment. These matters cured and the overall verdict would go from impressive to excellent overnight.
The level of comfort and occupant appeal is top notch thanks to those wonderfully comfy seats, estate car practicality and well appointed specification – its a winner!
Should you buy: Absolutely!
Model Tested: Land Rover Discovery Sport 2.0D HSE e-Capability
Price: £35,395 excluding options
Driveline: 2.0 Turbo D (Eu6) with 6 speed manual and electronic 4wd
Power: 150Ps with 380Nm of torque
*Performance: 0-60 in 11 seconds with 112mph max
*Economy: 57.7mpg combined (49mpg on test)
Co2 / VED: 129G/Km (Band D)
*= Government or makers claimed data
WHATS HOT: Stylish – Practical – Comfortable – Good chassis – Intelligent four wheel drive system – Well equipped – Good looks – Befits the Land Rover brand image – Good performance and economy compromise – Credible emissions – Superb to drive in almost any scenario – Motorway refinement among the very best – Audio sound quality impressive – Off road capability is only restricted by its tyre equipment.
WHATS NOT: Some fixtures and fittings feel slightly cheap – Picking from the options list gets worryingly expensive – Test car had some minor paint and panel flaws – Central display for sat nav / computer and audio needs an update.
For more information on the Discovery Sport CLICK HERE