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2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport First Drive Review

What is it?

Why I would buy it

Drives and handles like a car, Practical cabin, 7-seater layout

Why I would avoid it

Cabin plastics not upto class standards, stiff low speed ride

The Discovery Sport is the most affordable Land Rover you can buy. Naturally, it has some big shoes to fill, especially when you consider that it is priced rather close to the ever desirable Evoque which has seen strong sales in India. Starting at Rs 55 lakhs on-road, the Discovery Sport has been updated for 2019 and as ever, it’s a more practical alternative to the ageing Evoque. You may have seen it on our review pages already, but the highlights for the 2019 model include a more powerful diesel engine, a new design pack and an updated infotainment system. 

This month we got to drive the updated 2019 Discovery Sport, over a variety of terrain and our first impressions are promising. Starting off with the design, the 2019 update adds something called as the Dynamic Design Pack. Offered only in the top-spec HSE trim, it comes with a mildly distinguishing body kit and chrome tail pipes. Apart from this, there are no other design updates and there is no mistaking the Discovery Sport for anything else – it still looks very well-balanced, polished and fits in perfectly with the Land Rover line-up. 

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How is it on the inside?

Inside, Land Rover has updated the baby Disco’s infotainment system with the most upgraded version of the Touch Pro interface. As we found out, the changes have made the UI more user friendly and similar to the Touch Pro Duo system that you get in high-end Range Rover models. The HSE Luxury trim gets a 10-inch touch display which is clear and well positioned. The rest of the line-up, meanwhile, gets an 8-inch display and lesser functions. That aside, the aesthetics are the same as before, meaning you get a predictably durable yet smart looking dash and a commanding driving position. 

Switchgear on the steering wheel and the doors feel solid and durable, however, there are some hard plastics in here – the air vent plastics and climate control switches could be better finished. That said, it doesn’t come across as cheap in any way and overall, the cabin is nicely appointed.  

The driving position is excellent and the visibility all-around is great, too. Everything about the way you sit behind the wheel on to the supportive seat points to a more luxurious experience than what the Disco actually costs. Moving on to the second row, there is enough room for three adults, with a reach bench that is broad enough. Although it is set a tad bit low, it is superbly contoured and the low seating translates to plenty of headroom. As for the third row, it’s good enough for a couple of kids at best - the combination of a high floor and low seat means you end up sitting in a cramped manner with your knees locked in. Fortunately, all the seats fold down easily and liberate plenty of luggage space though we would like to add that the second row doesn’t fold completely flat. 

The Discovery Sport, in HSE Luxury trim at least, is loaded to the boot when it comes to equipment. You get a fixed panoramic roof, heated mirrors with memory, xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, leather seats, electric front seats, a 17-speaker premium audio system, rear camera, front and rear parking sensors, screens for the rear seats, ABS, ESP, traction control and plenty of airbags.

How does it drive?

Onto the biggest update of the 2019 Discovery Sport, then, the engine. While it’s still the same 2-litre Ingenium diesel unit that we have experienced in other Land Rover models, there have been some changes to the baby Disco range. The SE, HSE and HSE Luxury trims now get a more powerful tune (177bhp) while the entry-level Pure variant continues to get the standard 147bhp output engine. That’s 30bhp and 50Nm more than the base car and the difference is clear in most situations. 

In the base Discovery Sport it always felt as if you need to work the engine a bit hard to get it moving briskly. That’s not the case with the 2019 range – it feels peppier right from the word go and it will cover a broad range of city speeds much easier. Sure, it sounds a little harsh near the redline but that’s the way these diesel engines are and it’s not something that’s worrisome. We have always liked the way the Sport rides and handles. For a medium size SUV, it handles really well and rides comfortably for the most part. 

The steering offers plenty of weight and feel and there is intrinsic balance to its chassis over a twisty road. Refuting that quick transition ability is the fact that the Disco remains thoroughly planted at high speeds thanks to the suspension being on the stiff end of the stick. However, because its stiffly sprung, the low speed ride is crashy and you can feel ruts and potholes a little more than you would expect.  

Should I buy one?

The 2019 Discovery Sport, all things considered, makes a compelling argument for itself in the mid-size premium SUV space. It’s got a smart look, seats seven (almost), drives really well on the road and is capable off it, as well. Crucially, it’s a quality product that can actually go off road with ease. While it may not have the plushest cabin and low speed ride in its segment, the Discovery Sport is pretty solid otherwise. If you need a city SUV that can double up as a light off-roader, the Disco is a tough proposition to beat. 

Where does it fit in?

The top-spec Discovery Sport HSE Luxury costs Rs 74.59 lakhs on-road. For the same price, you could have a BMW X3 xDrive 20d Luxury Line or Audi’s Q5 35 TDI Technology. 


Pictures by Kapil Angane

Click here for our review of the new Range Rover Velar

Click here for our review of the new Range Rover Evoque

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