The Land Rover Discovery Sport is the stylish new replacement for the outgoing Land Rover Freelander model. While it may have adopted the name of its bigger brother and inherited modern design cues from its smaller Evoque sibling, there is considerable substance beneath its pretty new façade.From the front, it gets a sporty but elegantly rakish Evoque style front grille complete with slick signature detailing like LED day running lights which instantly give it that Land Rover element of presence. At the rear the theme is continued with rear lights almost identical to that of the Range Rover Sport and Evoque making each model instantly recognisable from almost every angle. The real difference with this new Discovery Sport is that it has really matured bringing with it a more spacious, modern and sleeker twist. Despite this similarity, the Land Rover Discover Sport is brand new from the ground up and is constructed from the latest technology in lightweight materials making it considerably lighter and more efficient than its Free Lander predecessor.
Inside is an entirely different story too with the Discovery Sport demonstrating a high quality interior design and layout akin to that of its upmarket Range Rover siblings. Similar to the Evoque, all of the switchgear and use of upmarket materials has been carried over, thus reinforcing the premium feel you get from the Discovery Sport. The infotainment system positioned at the top of the centre console is user friendly and intuitive plus its high resolution 8 inch screen makes it even easier to read at a glance. Our test car featured the 9-speed ZF automatic transmission which showcases one of the nicest and unique touches within the interior. On start-up, the rotary gear selector elegantly raises from the centre console which brings an element of coolness to the 4x4.
Being larger than the model it replaces, it now features an optional 5+2 seating arrangement with folding rear seats in the boot for an additional €2595 of your money. As this seating layout comes as standard in the UK spec model, it is a little disappointing to see it as an option here in Ireland. That said the comfort levels of the leather driver and passenger seats is exceptional. Our test car was the mid-range SE spec, which on spending a week with and for the money, appears to be the pick of the range.
The experience of driving the Land Rover Discovery Sport really comes together due to all of the interior features mentioned above. Its driving position is quite elevated as you would expect from an SUV and comfortable mainly thanks to those lovely seats making cruising on motorways a refined experience. It’s fitted with the 2.2 diesel engine as seen in the Evoque which gets 190bhp and packs a punchy 420Nm of torque making it feel quite rapid. Its steering is direct and combined with its responsive engine, really does feel quite agile living up to it ‘Sport’ badge on the boot lid. While this engine may not be quite as economical as its current rivals, there is a brand new ED4 model on the way that emits just 119g/km of C02. That said, the 2.2 emits 149g/km with annual tax of just €390. When cold, the 2.2 does sound quite raucous but really comes into its own when warmed up and is impressively refined at motorway speeds making for a relaxing drive. But being a Land Rover, it is also immensely capable off-road thanks to its innovative Terrain Response System and it will take you through rivers at a wading depth of 600mm. That’s deeper than the ultimate and more rugged 4x4 Land Rover Defender.
The Discovery Sport goes up against the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 and with it comes rivalling levels of luxury and comfort. The advantage of the Land Rover is that it is actually the cheapest of the bunch starting at €37,100 for the 2.2 TD4 S model. Our test car was the 2.2 TD4 SE which comes in at €43,560 and is very well spec’d. The top level HSE adds a considerable €6,235 at a cost of €49,795 which really makes the SE stand out as the option to go for.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is more spacious than its predecessor, has more appeal thanks to its sporty Range Rover appearance and with a more economical engine coming, it makes a very attractive option.