UK Drive: Updates bring added refinement to the Land Rover Discovery Sport

Jack Evans, PA Motoring Reporter

What is it?

Land Rover Discovery Sport
The rear end of the car largely resembles that of the outgoing car


Land Rover’s Discovery Sport has become a core part of the firm’s range, having gone on sale in 2014 as a direct replacement for the Freelander. In that time, it has soared to become Land Rover’s most popular vehicle, delivering the kind of classy yet rugged experience that people expect from the firm.

Despite that success, Land Rover hasn’t allowed the Discovery Sport to rest on its laurels, sharpening it up with an update. But this isn’t some regular facelift, oh no, with the new Discovery Sport underpinned by a brand new chassis which better allows for electrification. We’ve tested it out in D200 trim, which brings diesel power alongside mild-hybrid assistance.

What’s new?

Land Rover Discovery Sport
The Discovery Sport remains a popular option in the UK


On the face of it, you could be fooled into thinking that not a lot has changed for this new Discovery Sport. Certainly, the ‘face’ of the car – bar a few tweaks – looks near-identical to that of the outgoing car and it’s the same story around the back, too. But underneath sits a brand new platform – which is similar to that underpinning the latest Evoque – and this allows a mild-hybrid setup to be integrated alongside the conventional petrol and diesel engines for improved emissions.

You’ve also got a smattering of new interior features, while the Discovery Sport retains its useful seven-seater layout – though we’ll get to how suitable those rearmost seats are for adults shortly.

What’s under the bonnet?

Land Rover Discovery Sport
The front end of the Discovery Sport has been tweaked


Badged D200, ‘our’ Discovery Sport used a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine powering all four wheels through an automatic gearbox. Thanks to 201bhp and 430Nm of torque, the Discovery Sport is good for a zero to 60mph time of 8.3 seconds and it’ll top out at 117mph, too.

The mild-hybrid system uses a 48-volt setup that combines an electric generator and a small battery pack to harvest the energy usually lost when slowing down. This is then stored for later when it can be used to assist with acceleration and reduce some of the strain on the engine. As a result, the Discovery Sport can return up to 41.4mpg, while CO2 emissions stand at 179-191g/km depending on wheel size.

What’s it like to drive?

Land Rover Discovery Sport
The Discovery Sport handles body roll well


Driving the Discovery Sport is a classy and refined affair. At speed, it feels composed and though there is a small amount of wind noise, it does little to interrupt the otherwise hushed cabin. The engine, mind you, can be a little vocal under hard acceleration, but once up to speed it simmers into the background.

The ride can feel a touch rigid at low speeds and over rutted surfaces, something no doubt exasperated by our test car’s huge 20-inch alloy wheels. However, well-weighted steering and well-controlled body roll mean that the Discovery Sport won’t lose the plot when put through some corners. It does, however, feel at its very best on the motorway or through long, sweeping bends. The addition of the mild-hybrid system is barely noticeable, too.

How does it look?

Land Rover Discovery Sport
Restyled LED headlights are sharper than before


As we’ve mentioned, the latest Discovery Sport looks largely as the older one did, but that’s no bad thing – it’s a well-executed and classy design. The tweaks to this new model – including the sharper headlights and large front air intakes – do bring it closer in line with the larger Discovery and, at a glance, it’s now quite hard to distinguish the pair.

Large wheels remain a trademark of Jaguar Land Rover vehicles, which is why you’ll see so many Land Rovers fitted with large alloys. Without them, the wheels tend to look a little ‘lost’ in the arches.

What’s it like inside?

Land Rover Discovery Sport
The Discovery Sport’s interior features a range of high-end materials


The interior of the Discovery Sport feels wide and spacious, with plenty of high-quality materials ensuring that the experience of sitting inside the cabin is just as polished as the way it drives. The front seats are comfortable and provide plenty of support, while the update has also introduced larger storage cubbies and cupholders for those sitting in the rearmost seats. It goes to show that the Discovery Sport really is geared towards families, who will no doubt appreciate these new practicality-focused additions.

As mentioned, the Discovery Sport is a seven-seater. However, those rearmost seats are only really suitable for children or as a short-distance option for adults. It’s good to have the flexibility there, of course, and they’ll be a welcome inclusion for those who carry extra passengers from time to time but don’t require a fully-fledged seven-seater.

What’s the spec like?

Land Rover Discovery Sport
A drivers display can be configured to show a variety of different readouts


Our test car came in R-Dynamic SE specification, which brings a huge amount of standard equipment. Chief among them is the Pivi Pro infotainment system, which represents a huge leap forward over the previous car’s setup. It’s smart and easy to use, with plenty of connectivity features and easy-to-read graphics. You also get both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which helps to make mirroring your smartphone onto the car’s screen easier.

You also get an interactive driver display, which replaces the conventional dials with a configurable screen. It makes for a particularly high-end-feeling cabin, while added touches such as a panoramic sunroof and 12-way electrically adjustable heated seats only help to increase the premium feeling further.

Verdict

As we’ve already mentioned, the Discovery Sport is already proving hugely popular for Land Rover. It’s likely that these updates will only increase that popularity, as they bring a new sharpness and an even greater premium feeling than before.

The addition of mild-hybrid tech helps to clean up the Discovery Sport’s engine choices even further – while a plug-in hybrid option is there for those who want a truly electrified option. However, whichever variant you opt for, you’ll be treated to a classy and refined SUV – and one that is bound to continue to take the segment by storm.

  • Model: Land Rover Discovery Sport

  • Base price: £36,790

  • Model as tested: Discovery Sport D200 R-Dynamic SE

  • Price: £49,030

  • Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel

  • Power: 201bhp

  • Torque: 430

  • Max speed: 117mph

  • 0-60mph: 8.3 seconds

  • MPG: 41.4-38.8

  • Emissions: 179-191g/km CO2