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First drive: Land Rover Discovery Sport (2020MY). Image by Land Rover.

First drive: Land Rover Discovery Sport (2020MY)
Transformative updates to the Land Rover Discovery Sport boost its appeal.


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Land Rover Discovery Sport (2020MY)

4 4 4 4 4

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that the Land Rover Discovery Sport is the company's best-seller. Since its introduction, Land Rover has shifted more than 475,000 of them. Now comes the update, and while technically it could be called a facelift, much more change has gone on beneath the skin.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Land Rover Discovery Sport S P250 AWD
Pricing: 49,125 as tested; starts at 31,575
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Transmission: nine-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door SUV
CO2 emissions: 179g/km (VED Band 171-190: 830 first 12 months, then 465 for years two-six of ownership, then 145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 30.5mpg (WLTP)
Top speed: 128mph
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Power: 249hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 320Nm at 1,400-4,500rpm
Boot space: 157-1,794 litres (depending on seat rows two and three being folded away/in use)

What's this?

Are you looking for a mid-size premium SUV that offers seven seats? If you are, then you're not alone, but when you cast your eye over the segment you'll notice that there isn't a great deal of choice that matches that criterion. The Discovery Sport, by Land Rover's admission, is a five-plus-two, though considering that many people only want those extra two pews for the odd occasion, it's surprising that more don't do it. And the option of having that third row is a major ingredient in the Discovery Sport's success to date.

Now the model has come in for a pretty major overhaul, starting with almost-new sheet metal all around. You'll find only the bonnet, tailgate and roof carry over from the predecessor; all other panels are new to this version. For the first time, you can now specify larger 21-inch wheels. These fill up the arches nicely, especially if you've gone for the R-Dynamic S specification. However, if you want to retain some added comfort with thicker tyre sidewalls, then sticking with more modestly-sized wheels is advised.

Also coming in for a big bump-up in quality is the Discovery Sport's interior. Land Rover designers have gone out of their way to replace surfaces and materials that were previously of questionable quality. You'll have to search for any less-than-premium materials, and indeed everything in eye-shot and reach seems every bit as good as what you'll find the equivalent Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

You can now have a snazzy 12.3-inch digital instrument display - a feature that is quickly becoming the norm in these types of cars - while the centre console features a much-improved 10.25-inch infotainment system. Not only are the graphics and layout better, but there is also noticeably less lag than previous iterations. Below this is where many of the secondary functions, such as climate control, are located, with most being touch-sensitive. There are still two rotary dials for different functions, depending on how you use them. Down further is a convenient place to leave your smartphone and the wireless charging pad is a plus.

How does it drive?

Even in this closer-to-standard spec, the Discovery Sport is an improved package. Our drive in the diesel version revealed a more hushed engine and the petrol version builds on this, making good use of the enhanced sound insulation that includes slightly thicker glass. Another aspect of driving the diesel was that, similar to the new Range Rover Evoque, its fuel economy isn't spectacular. So if you're lucky enough not to have huge weekly commutes to undertake, sticking with this petrol engine will leave you in a similar range of fuel consumption for only marginally higher CO2 emissions.

All engines bar the entry-grade D150 feature mild hybrid tech that helps to reduce consumption and adds some additional torque. That D150 is also the only model that gets a manual front-wheel transmission, as everything else gains all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission, which now ranks as one of the best autos on the market. It switches between gears almost imperceptibly, especially when you're not thrashing the engine. The raised driving position offers a good field of view and complementing the reversing camera is a new bit of tech from Land Rover called Clear Sight that displays a roof-mounted camera onto the rearview mirror. Aside from being able to offer a wider field of view, even with all of the rear seats occupied, the driver still has a perfect view of what's behind the car. It does take a little getting used to, and there are still some drawbacks - for example, you only see a fixed view - but the quality of the display at night is far better than a regular mirror.

Being a Land Rover, the Discovery Sport is equipped with a variety of driver assistance system to help when venturing off the beaten track. Admittedly, the percentage of owners that will is likely to be in the single figures, but for most, it is reassuring to know that if the going gets tough, this car is quite capable of getting through it, be that a dusting of snow or a flooded country lane. Land Rover has even created a specific Water Wading Aid to assist in the case of the latter. In more urban settings, the Discovery Sport is every bit the match for other posh SUVs like the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60, and the prospect of a plug-in hybrid model on the horizon should make it even more appealing.


If you choose the right engine and the right spec, you can end up with a very lovely Discovery Sport, but it is possible to very quickly rack up quite a cost when you begin adding multiple optional upgrades. That aside, the Land Rover falls into something of a sweet spot in the segment. It's not as sharp to drive as the X3, but more involving than the Audi Q5, and its interior easily gives the XC60 a run for its money now. This range-topping petrol engine is very good, though we think holding out for the plug-in hybrid model could be an even wiser move.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Powertrain

Dave Humphreys - 16 Sep 2019

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2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport. Image by Land Rover.2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport. Image by Land Rover.2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport. Image by Land Rover.2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport. Image by Land Rover.2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport. Image by Land Rover.

2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport. Image by Land Rover.2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport. Image by Land Rover.2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport. Image by Land Rover.2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport. Image by Land Rover.2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport. Image by Land Rover.


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