What is it?
Make no mistake: there’s a lot more that’s new about this updated Land Rover Discovery Sport than immediately meets the eye. Sure, it looks largely the same as it has since the original model replaced the long-standing Freelander back in 2015, but so extensive are the changes made beneath the skin of Land Rover’s best-selling (and arguably most important) model that simply labelling it a mere facelift almost feels like selling it short.
You see, in addition to giving the Discovery Sport a subtly tweaked exterior and a new interior that looks and feels far more Range Rover-like than ever before, Land Rover has completely replaced the architecture upon which it’s based. Originally, this was a fairly heavily reengineered version of the LR-MS platform that underpinned the first-generation Range Rover Evoque, but this has now been done away with and replaced by Land Rover’s latest Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA) - the same platform that, funnily enough, also underpins the second-generation Evoque.
Unsurprisingly, this is quite a big deal. Along with the improvements in body stiffness, cabin isolation and passenger safety that the introduction of the PTA platform allows for, an ability to accommodate electrified powertrains has been at the forefront of its development process.
And so the Discovery Sport is available with a range of transversely mounted four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, most of which are now complemented by a 48-volt mild hybrid architecture - much like what you get on the new Evoque. That said, it’s a front-wheel-drive (yes, you’re reading that correctly), non-hybrid 148bhp diesel with a six-speed manual gearbox that represents the new Discovery Sport in its most efficient form, with CO2 emissions as low as 140g/km and official combined fuel economy of 47.8mpg.
Call me cynical, but I reckon that entry-level model is there largely so that the Discovery Sport’s ‘emissions from’ strapline will look a bit more appealing in the brochure. After all, this is a Land Rover, so you’d expect most customers to skip over that particular variant and head straight for the 4x4 models. Well, you’d hope they would, anyway.
If the wider model line-up is anything to go by, Land Rover seems to think this will be the case, too; four-wheel-drive models (all of which come with a nine-speed ZF automatic gearbox) account for the meat of the range. In the black corner, that same 148bhp unit starts things off at the lower end of the power spectrum, and is followed by 178bhp and 237bhp oil-burners. For those who prefer to take their fuel from the green pump, there’s a choice of 197bhp and 247bhp petrol engines too. Later this year, a plug-in hybrid model will also join the range.
In addition to their mild hybrid architecture, the four-wheel-drive models feature Land Rover’s Driveline Disconnect system. At a steady cruise, this in effect makes the Discovery Sport front-wheel drive - which should theoretically allow for greater marginal gains in fuel economy.