Land Rover Discovery Sport SE R-Dynamic

    According to my notes, it’s approximately five years since I splashed around Land Rover’s Experience centre at the Heritage Motor Centre in what was then their all-new Discovery Sport.

   Well, I say all new. The Discovery Sport may well have been a new model – and one that boasted 5+2 seating too – but the truth of the matter was, like it’s smaller Evoque sibling too,  it owed more than a little to the Freelander, the model it was designed to replace. Nevertheless it was of course both smooth on the tarmac, and virtually unstoppable off it. When faced with the various obstacles that made up Land Rover’s off-roading course that day the Discovery Sport just got on with the job, it’s Terrain Response System responding to whatever was thrown at it, or indeed whatever it was required to wade through.

   But then perhaps, you’d expect nothing else from something wearing that most famous of green oval badges. After what proved to be an interesting day, capacious and very capable were the words I seem to recall using to sum things up.

   Five years is long time in the motor industry, market forces change, and competitors both come and go. It’s as result of such things that’s there’s now another all-new Land Rover Discovery Sport.

   No, honestly, there is!

  From the outside it is perhaps a tad difficult to see where the alterations have been made as the trademark Discovery design cues - the clamshell bonnet, rising beltline and tapered roof - remain very firmly in place. But, there are differences. The proportions have, say Land Rover’s design team, been optimized, “To project a more striking visual”. In reality it’s the new signature LED headlamps at the front and rear, and the updated front grille and bumpers that are the easiest things to spot.

    It’s inside and underneath where the most striking changes have been made. Hop aboard and you can’t help but notice the interior makeover. The (occasionally inert) capstan gear-selector of old has been replaced (hoorah!) by the altogether more tactile and solid-feeling lever-selector from sister-brand Jaguar’s F-type, whilst JLR’s latest 10in Touch Pro infotainment system sits centre stage atop the new softer touch dashboard; it’s now standard across the Discovery range. Digital dials replace analogue clocks, there’s the option of no fewer than six USB-A ports and four 12V outlets, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow for myriad connectivity, and should your budget allow such things, Land Rover also offers an Online Pack with 4G wi-fi hotspot and a 10-speaker Meridian sound system – and very nice it all sounds too.  

      Land Rover’s new rotary multi-function switches now control everything from the air-con and heated and cooled seats to the four-wheel drive and traction control systems. If you exercise a little patience they work well, but it’s all too easy switch the cruise control on, or the start-stop function off, if you’re not careful; be prepared to take your eyes off the road for a second, maybe two. Personally I’d still rather a chunky-clunky Land Rover buttons of old, the ones that I can use with my gloves on. Sorry Land Rover!

    But then again despite Land Rover’s hopes to the contrary it would almost feel disrespectful to climb into this car wearing muddy boots and get this now far more premium feeling interior dirty, for the Discovery Sport now blurs the lines between where Land Rover stops and Range Rover starts ever-further.

    And that can be felt on the move.  Things are more refined, everything’s quieter, and smoother too. And yet, ironically - this is a genuine off-roader after all - broken surfaces make the Discovery Sport bounce around.

    On smoother surfaces though, the specifically developed hollow-cast multi-link rear suspension - designed specifically to free-up boot space and therefore enable that third row of “Grandstand Seating” -  does an admiral job of ironing out imperfections. So as means of covering big distances at modest speeds – despite the name this is no racer – the Discovery Sport now takes some beating.

    If that is, you can afford the fuel consumption. Our test car was fitted with both JLR’s 2 litre Ingenium petrol engine, and the mild-hybrid system that now goes with it.  Land Rover claim that “at speeds below 17km/h (11mph), the engine will shut off when the driver applies the brakes, before redeploying the stored energy to assist the engine under acceleration to reduce fuel consumption”.  Perhaps it’s not helped by the 9 speed gearbox’s tendency to continually hunt for its preferred ratio, but on our round-trip to York we never bettered 27mpg. Its makes for an expensive day-out, and evidently, there’s still very-much a strong case for diesel power when it comes to family orientated SUVs.

    At £51, 925, albeit after options, our P250 SE R-Dynamic specced Discovery Sport isn’t exactly what you’d call a budget buy either. But…

    And it is perhaps a big but.

   Find me another seven seat SUV that’s so versatile; one that’s as happy on the M6 as is it is up to its axles wading through mud. Or perhaps one that regardless of where you park it or wherever you take it, it never looks out of place. Something in which you feel so secure regardless of what life or the weather throws at you. It’s not so easy now, is it?

     The Discovery Sport may not be without its faults, but even five years after it was launched there’s still a certain something about it, a certain charm, that’s hard to define.  



Land Rover Discovery Sport 250 AWD SE R-Dynamic

Engine: 1,999cc, 16V 4 Cyl, DOHC petrol

Transmission: 9 speed. Automatic with manual mode. FWD. Mild Hybrid Electric

Power: 249 bhp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 269 lbft @ 1,400 – 4,500 rpm

0-62mph: 7.3 sec

Max Speed: 139 mph

MPG: 29.9 – 28.3 (WLTP combined).

CO2: 185 g/km (NEDCeq EU combined)

Price: from 45,425 (As tested £51,925).


Many thanks to Lindsey and Kim at Land Rover’s UK press office



Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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