From £28,9408
Well-mannered, spacious, practical, well-finished and now slightly more economical, but D180's high weight dulls performance and economy

Our Verdict

The Land Rover Discovery Sport
The new Land Rover Discovery Sport is the successor to the Freelander

The Freelander's replacement goes big on prettiness and packaging, and as a result becomes the class leader

Richard Bremner Autocar
16 October 2019
Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 AWD SE 2019 UK

What is it?

Not long ago, this version of the latest Discovery Sport would have been decisively the biggest seller of the range. We all know why it will sell more slowly these days, but the fact remains that a fat 317lb ft slug of torque served early is just what an off-roader, a family seven-seater and a tow car need to best deliver on their mission. 

The Discovery Sport is all of these things, of course, besides being a civilised long distance machine that, when equipped with this 178bhp 2.0 turbodiesel engine, is capable of fuel economy that shouldn’t alarm. This despite the fact that it weighs 1953kg, a fair old hunk of heft for a vehicle that is a direct descendant of the Freelander

That heft is a slightly greater burden than the previous Discovery Sport carried, in part because this new one comes as a mild hybrid with 48-volt electrics, as well as a nine-speed automatic gearbox and, many existing Disco Sport owners will perhaps ruefully note, an enlarged fuel tank. 

There’s a lot more that’s new than this brief list and the tweaked bumpers and lighting suggest, too. The Disco Sport has undergone the unusual automotive equivalent of having a heart, lung and liver transplant – it now rides on an entirely new platform. You can probably list the cars that have undergone a mid-life platform transplant on the stalks of one steering column, but the Disco Sport has undergone one in order that it shares the innards of the latest Evoque, allowing the aforementioned 48-volt hybridisation to be offered.

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What's it like?

Never mind the industrial logic, the result is a much-improved Discovery Sport, particularly on the refinement front. Your isolation from the commotion of motion is pleasingly complete, if not to the point that you feel divorced from what's going on.

The Ingenium diesel engine is still identifiable as such when moving off, but on the move it’s as subdued as a dozing dog. There are occasions when the transmission can appear similarly dozy, but it’s more alert than it was in the D240 Discovery Sport recently tested. Suddenly demanding the car to get up and go sometimes prompts a momentary freeze before a gear is abruptly delivered, but when you’re properly on the move the gearbox oozes smoothly between its upper ratios. 

Briskly tackling a twisting B-road will soon demonstrate the value of these tremor-free shifts; the Discovery consumes bends, dips and crests with a composure you wouldn’t necessarily expect of a seven-seater, at least when lightly loaded. It piles into bends without pause, without much roll and with a surety that almost earns it the Sport element of its name. This is not a car you can steer with the throttle, though, and feel through the steering wheel rim does little to signal an impending absence of grip, but you’ll be surprised at the enjoyment to be found in cracking on.

The ride is pretty good too, unless you hit sharp-edged potholes or big camber changes. All of this is combined with go-anywhere capabilities that are unlikely to be tapped by most owners. The new Premium Transverse Architecture brings with it electronic wheel-management technologies that will propel this Disco up and down plenty of steep, slippery slopes, as long as you learn that when the wheels spin, the solution is to accelerate harder. It’s utterly counter-intuitive, but mindless throttle-tramping is what enables the Disco’s all-terrain brain to select the best bundle of algorithms to help you out of your hole. And’s that’s on all-season tyres rather than specially-confected grippers of earth, sand and shale. 

More relevant to most owners, whose Land Rover adventures occur more in the mind than off-road, are a new touchscreen interface, new digital or part-digital instruments and significantly more cabin storage space, while the sliding middle row is now split 40:20:40. The redesigned seats include an optional massage facility up front and there's that optional third seating row, which is unusual for this class.

Should I buy one?

Unlike many facelifts, this one has real substance, much of it unseen. You get a lot of very useful car for your money, if not an especially economical or fast car. But if a comfortable, capable, go-anywhere family beast of burden is your need, this must be a front-runner.

Land Rover Discovery Sport specification

Where UK Price £43,175 On sale now Engine 4 cyls in line, 1999cc, turbocharged, diesel Power 178bhp at 4000rpm Torque 317lb ft 1500-3000rpm Gearbox 9-speed automatic Kerb weight 1953kg Top speed 117mph 0-62mph 11.8sec Fuel economy 40.0mpg CO2 185g/km Rivals Volvo XC60, Audi Q5, BMW X3

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Comments
7

16 October 2019

Why are Autocar comparing 7 seaters to 5 seaters again. Surely no-one with 4 kids will go looking for a 7 seater then decide to buy 5 seater because they perfer the handling, or anything else for that matter, over the Disco.

16 October 2019

it is an annoyance to me that the government did not correct the ved cockup of Osbornes ,where if you get a v8 Mustang it is under £40k so ved tax is £120  but you want a one up from  base model Evoque ,Disc Sport or E Pace you pay over £1500 extra ved tax over the 5 years.You may even have to forget metallic paint to keep it under.So this means in 6 years time when this surcharge is capped back to zero for 6 yr old cars not many people would want the base models s secondhand they will go for the higher specs.This needs re thinking as certainly JLR effected more proportionaly.The JLR lobbyists must either be very complacent or wonder why their market share has not improved even with new models.

16 October 2019

Unlike some perhaps JLR know their market and for towing (for which L/R products are often used) weight matters....

16 October 2019

Yup, when I am renovating the old farm house in North Wales this will be my car of choice. Decent off road and in the twisties and capable of lugging a lot of stuff.

For the suburban lifestyle with 2 kids maybe not so much.

16 October 2019

We all know this is really a Freelander and the new Defeneder is really the new Discovery.

 

The real Defender replacement will probably be made by Ineos or Toyota as Landrover don’t seem to want to go there.....

16 October 2019

NOT an "entirely new platform", but a heavy reworking of the previous platform which can trace its lineage back to the previous Ford Mondeo/Galaxy/S-Max/Volvo S60 etc.

I wonder if JLR have sorted out the many problems with the DPF location on the Ingenium diesels with this facelift?

16 October 2019

Mazda 3 and S/V40 lineage not the Mondeo et al. It is a reworking of a reworking of a reworking of the Focus platform of old. 

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