Why would I buy it?
- Comfortable cabin
- Sorted dynamics, off-road credentials
- Opulent stance
Why would I avoid it?
- Cramped third row
- Needs a sportier motor
Despite the Discovery Sport ranking high on sales, they’ve missed the opportunity to equip it with a sportier motor. Not to forget that most of its competition also happens to be cheaper. And then comes along a third row that seems abundant only for toddlers. That aside, the opulent design along with a great build quality and versatility, its excellent off-road prowess which is coupled to a fantastic ride, is what truly enthrals one to this heritage-packed SUV.
Engine and Performance
Everything in the Discovery Sport is about comfort. Even when it comes to the performance. And lest we forget, power from this BS6 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel motor, that makes around 177bhp and 430Nm of torque, is sent to the wheels via a nine-speed transmission. While you can hear the engine most of the time, be it at idle or while revving, there is no harshness whatsoever transmitted into the cabin. We found that the external noises are well suppressed and just about 62-72 decibels seep into this cabin.
Now, in the D-mode, it responds leisurely to your throttle inputs- well, it isn’t the sportier kind. The more you mash the throttle, the system acknowledges and feeds you with more response in a sedate manner. And, this personality goes for the gear shifts too. It first tries to serve you the increased response from the slotted gear, but it’s when the system continues to sense an increasing throttle input that the gearbox resorts to downshifting.
In the S-mode though, lower gears are held on to for better responses, and downshifts are also actioned appropriately to aid braking. Again, since it’s already running a lower gear, when you mash the accelerator a bit, it gets on it without downshifting. Like earlier, if it notices more throttle input, the gearbox downshifts immediately to give you more response. Although markedly quicker than the D-mode, the gearbox tends to get confused at times about which gear to select, especially in kick-down situations. So essentially, we advise using the paddle shifters for best results.
You may also want to note that the S-mode does not get the gearbox to hold a gear at the 4,200 red-line. Now, for the record, this SUV hits 100kmph in 10.92 seconds, whereas in comparison, Merc’s GLC pulls off the same feat in just 8.49 seconds. Having said that, the latter is also slightly quicker in the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph runs (tests of overtaking), where the Discovery Sport takes 6.0 seconds and 7.76 seconds respectively.
Ride and Handling
We now move on to the ride quality, which is nothing short of supreme! Land Rover has really done wonders here. Whatever the speed, you can feel the rigidness of the chassis as the dampers do a wonderful job of absorbing our relentless roads. None of the harshness is ever felt inside unless you go over, maybe a crater. Another great virtue of the Discovery Sport is its steering. With just 2 1/4 turns from lock-to-lock along with brilliant progression and great feedback; this is the steering to experience! And this certainly helps while manoeuvring in tighter confines.
Adding to this, is the immense grip from the large wheels. Sure, there is some roll around sharp bends and that’s because it’s a big SUV. But even then, it holds the intended line exceptionally well, all the while remaining unfazed, thanks to the tight dynamics.
When it comes to the off-roading capabilities, we weren't able to put the Discovery Sport through the grind for this review. But just so that you know, it’s got a ground clearance of around 210mm along with outstanding approach, departure, and breakover angles. These coupled with the all-wheel drive and Terrain Response 2 with four modes- Comfort, Sand, Grass-Gravel-Snow, Mud, and Ruts, help adjust the torque delivery to suit various terrains.
Interior Space and Quality
You literally walk into the Discovery Sport. And once in, you’re welcomed by rich and exquisitely crafted cabin materials that are bound together by wooden inserts, sporty red stitching, magnificently brushed-silver finish, and gorgeous piano black trim. I couldn’t find a single touch-point that wasn’t intricately draped in soft touch materials. You simply find yourself ogling at the pristine double-layered dash with the vents running in between, and on to the clean instrument cluster display. One that’s so easy to read on the go, with loads of information available via toggling the large buttons on the steering wheel.
What’s convenient, is that the controls on the dash are well spaced out which helps you function instantly. But the party trick is certainly the ‘smart rear view mirror’ that transforms the inside rear view mirror into a video screen which displays what’s behind the vehicle. This ensures rear visibility is not compromised by any cabin obstructions whatsoever.
On to the front seats which are electrically operated with lumbar adjust and memory. They’re draped in leather, are immensely spacious, and the seat base has adequate thigh and lateral support. Likewise, the large backrest also boasts of ample lateral, lumbar, and shoulder support. There’s acres of shoulder room and head room too. What we didn’t like though, is the absence of height adjustable seat-belts, and the power window switches are simply too much of a stretch.
Storage is taken care of by the large door pads and the wireless charging station ahead of the gear shifter also doubles up as a cubby space. And then, the large armrest storage bin, a section of which has a lid and can hold two cups. Since it’s removable, one can rinse it if you spill your drink. This section also offers two USB ports, a micro sim-card port, and a power outlet.
As the second row slides back and forth, you will experience ample legroom and foot room. But thigh support is in short supply here. Now, although the rear seat contours are flatter in comparison, it still offers good support. Plus, occupants can adjust the backrest angle, enjoy acres of headroom and also seat three due to the adequate shoulder room. The only downside being the centre cushioning that feels raised and odd to sit on despite the short central-tunnel.
In terms of storage for the 2nd row, there’s an armrest with twin cup-holders with some slim stowage and more space inside the door pads and on the centre console below the twin air vents. Gaining access to the third row means flipping the second row (40:20:40) and slithering uncomfortably on to the rather compact twin-seats. They are perfect for children, and nothing more. Anyway, the occupant on the right will have to battle it out to set both feet down appropriately. And will eventually end up in an awkward leg position that’s dodging the floor-cup holder and the second row seat rails.
And once that’s done, they’ll have to live with a severely crouched position with zilch thigh support and head-rests that play foul with your upper back. The bright side nonetheless, is that there’s just the right headroom for me (at 5.5ft), there are three-point seat belts, it’s got ac-vents with controls, and there’s adequate shoulder room along with today’s necessities such as a power outlet and a USB port.
With the third row up though, there’s boot space only for two slim laptop bags at most. But folding it liberates space for at-least three medium-sized suitcases, some bags, and the shopping regulars. Like you guessed, space swells considerably when you drop the second row. You may also want to know that one might also need to lift their luggage items considerably off the ground to load them into the boot enclosure.
Features and Safety
R-Dynamic SE fetches you a fixed panorama sunroof, powered tailgate, rain-sensing wipers, heated door mirrors with auto-dimming and memory functions, and LED head lamps. You also get tyre pressure monitoring, wireless charging, two-zone climate control, ClearSight inner rear view mirror, and cruise control with a speed limiter. On to the 10.25-inch Touch Pro infotainment system, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The touch screen itself is a very usable sleek proportions-type. Its high-definition, offers quick responses, and the touch sensitivity is excellent. Also, as the user interface is intuitive, it doesn't take long for one to get accustomed to it.
And did I forget to say how the Meridian system sounds? It’s simply astounding with 380-Watts, 11 speakers, including a sub-woofer! I kept driving on-and-on just to listen to my favourite tracks. And even after reaching the destination, I delayed exiting the car just so that I could listen to some more. Remarkable!
You get a 360-degree parking aid with the rear camera, six airbags, torque vectoring by braking, ABS, lane keep assist, and driver condition monitor. In addition to that there’s also roll stability control, all-wheel drive with efficient driveline, hill launch assist, low traction launch, electronic traction control, hill descent control, dynamic stability control, all-terrain progress control, and Terrain Response 2.
We believe that the Discovery Sport truly lacks that sporty character. Not to forget the few irritants like the power window switches placement, absence of seatbelt height adjusters, and also the fact that the third row is only practical for toddlers. Again, at around 75 lakh OTR Mumbai, it is pricier than cars like the Mercedes-Benz GLC, Volvo XC 60, and the BMW X3. At the same time, what truly works for this Land Rover is that it’s a comfortable and composed, go anywhere SUV that’s built like a tank and screams ‘extravagant’ on our roads that are crowded with the Germans.
Sounds like it’s for those who’d prefer to stand out, Brit-style, with the tight upper-lip. What-say?