From £31,9058
Long-heralded plug-in Disco Sport is proving a business bargain hunter’s hit – but it’s a fine driver’s car as well
Steve Cropley Autocar
21 October 2020

What is it?

Land Rover’s odd-looking decision, right in the middle of the pandemic lockdown, to unveil plug-in hybrid versions of its Evoque and Discovery Sport suddenly looks like a rare bout of insight.

Its marketing chief says that by getting in early, the company now holds around 2000 orders for Evoque and Sport PHEVs and intends to start delivering them before the year-end.

The model tested here, the Discovery Sport P300e R-Dynamic AWD, is a much more different Sport than it appears on the outside. With its Evoque plug-in sibling, it is the first model to use the new Jaguar Land Rover 1.5-litre Ingenium turbo petrol three-cylinder engine (a modular relation of the well-known four and recently launched straight six). Its electrification equipment consists of both an integrated starter-generator (ISG) for harvesting braking and overrun energy and an electrified back axle powered by a 107bhp electric motor with its own lithium ion battery, which can propel the vehicle at up to 84mph, but not for long at that speed.

JLR lists the Sport PHEV’s maximum power as 305bhp, with 398lb ft of torque, and the performance figures certainly promise something special – 0-62mph acceleration in just 6.6sec, with a 130mph top speed.

To power the rear axle, there’s a 15kWh battery packaged under the seat so as not to encroach on standard boot or rear-seat space and it is claimed to deliver up to 43 miles of range on a full charge. As well as boosting efficiency, the electric back axle gives the P300e four-wheel traction without any mechanical link to the front powerplant.

As with most PHEVs, the official consumption figures are predictably staggering: 175.5mpg on the WLTP cycle and just 32g/km of CO2. No wonder its company car tax rate is just 10%. That figure is the basis of JLR’s confident expectation, already justified by all those orders, that the Sport PHEV will sell out of its skin.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar review

Back to top

What's it like?

But does the P300e make a decent driver’s car as well as a tax-efficient business choice? Our short test suggests that it does. The engine is smooth and well isolated yet emits a typically pleasant three-pot thrum when used hard. The ISG restarts the engine at traffic lights extremely smoothly and there’s nothing in the noise or handling to suggest that a decent proportion of the motive power comes from a remote rear axle acting independently. Its integration seems excellent.

The P300e’s electrically assisted departure from rest is swift and clean, with the Aisin eight-speed gearbox (not the ZF nine-speeder used in more conventional Sports and Evoques) changing gears with unobtrusive sophistication. The gearbox choice was made because the Aisin is lighter than the ZF, engineers say, and along with a 37kg saving on the three-pot engine against a four, this nearly offsets the extra weight of battery.

The electric range of 43 miles seems realistic. Our test car had 85% charge when we started driving and promised 36 miles. There were one or two quiet interventions from the petrol engine along our route, but the battery only reached depletion with 35 miles on the odometer.

Best of all, this was as pleasant a drive as any of its siblings, maybe even a shade more rigid and refined than the Evoque P300e, which we were also briefly able to sample.

Noise levels are low, the ride is supple and smooth, vibration is hardly present, and steering and handling set a high standard. Unlike some of its more expensive brothers, the Sport remains compact enough for easy modern UK motoring.

Should I buy one?

In all, the P300e is an impressive and efficient car whose technology never intrudes into its easy day-today use. Those who buy it for tax reasons will soon discover they’ve chosen a good car into the bargain.

Back to top

Join the debate

Comments
14
Add a comment…
Herald 21 October 2020

@little_ted ..

 .. fair comment, but if what you suggest is correct then it is ideed an awkward (though admittedly, minor) design point. You know what I'll be looking for the next time I see one of these.

little_ted 21 October 2020

misaligned

The boot is not misaligned and the panel gaps are even, the boot does not come down as far as the sides and this is a design thing, I personally agree it doesnt look good but it is not a quality issue.

Herald 21 October 2020

@ Mike Miles ..

.. "sounds like a bit of gratuitous unjustified product bashing there ..."

 May I refer you to photo #4 in particular. Misaligned panels are rare in these days of robotised assembly - it just caught my eye and is the sort of issue I would have expected QA to pick up on, especially on a vehicle submitted for review. A bit of fettling may be all that was required. My comment would have been gratuitous and unjustified if everything had lined up ... it doesn't.

Find an Autocar car review