Land Rover Discovery Sport Td4 180hp SE TECH
If you passed me driving around in the Land Rover Discovery Sport this week looking like I stole it, I just want to clarify that I didn't.
My parents have owned Discoveries and Freelanders for as long as I've been alive, but somehow I'd never driven one on the road. That was until recently, when the Discovery Sport arrived at my door; I was as excited as when my dad handed me the keys to his Freelander at the age of 16, which I stalled around a field in rural west Wales.
While our test car's SE Tech trim offers six-way manual front seats, no matter how many adjustments I made I was either too low and couldn't see over the steering wheel properly, or too high and couldn't reach the pedals. Yes, I'm shorter than most, but I'm not sure I've ever had to take a steering wheel to the chin in order to compress the clutch properly.
Aside from its heightist bias, things can only go up from here, right?
It’s the best part of 30 years since the first Land Rover Discovery went on sale, and this is the fifth generation of the 4x4. Although it follows many of the same principles as some of its predecessors—it’s a big, four-wheel drive, seven-seat SUV, for a start—it's very, very different. Not just in the looks department, either. Although it weighs in at more than two tonnes, you might be surprised to know that it is 480kg lighter than its predecessor.
This Discovery offers so much room inside; its new rear suspension has been specifically designed to allow for seven seats as standard in every model. This in itself is a major selling point, but it is boosted further by strong design language and Land Rover’s brand image, which takes the Disco Sport further upmarket.
Yes, I know, rivals such as the Skoda Kodiaq are better value, but decent economy from Land Rover's Ingenium diesels and rock solid residuals mean running costs are competitive. And it's not just the boring stuff that makes this beast sell. The Discovery Sport is good-looking and combines strong on-road driving dynamics with Land Rover’s trademark off-road ability—all at a price tag starting at under £40k in SE Tech trim. And believe me, its performance is unrivalled over rough terrains.
The twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine is just as impressive. It delivers the performance and refinement you’d expect from a premium SUV, and means the Sport no longer sounds like a Transit van. You might imagine a 2.0-litre diesel would struggle in a car as big and heavy as the Discovery, but in fact, this entry-level engine delivers surprisingly ample performance. What I did notice was a pause between pushing the accelerator and the car surging forward, but once it's going, speed builds steadily enough. The other benefit to this engine is that it makes the 4x4 accessible to a wider group of buyers looking for all of the practicality and luxury of a Disco.
Granted, its looks divide opinion, but the Discovery Sport is extremely comfortable; and, if you factor in some of the smart new technology on-board, is a very capable package indeed.
There's a nice bit of kit available, too. For instance, all seven seats can be motorised and foldable via a remote smartphone app, if you wish. The latest JLR touchscreen and minimalist cabin both amp up the sense that this is a real luxury car, not just a posh coat with no knickers.
Land Rover's latest Discovery is clearly its most capable yet. More importantly, it is arguably a complete car appropriate for every occasion—from completing the school run to driving up a mountain. Personally, I have no need for such a big car with so many seats myself, but if I had a growing family, the Disco Sport would not only tick all the boxes; it would likely seal the deal on first drive.
One final thought - the less said about that offset number plate, the better...