The Discovery now starts at $74,731 for the SD4 SE. (image: Peter Anderson)
The Discovery Sport's exterior design is pretty much bang-on. (image: Peter Anderson)
It does look substantial but with the chamfering here, the chiselling there and the (optional) LED daytime running lights, looks thoroughly contemporary without the outright style-chasing of the Rangies. (image: Peter Anderson)
Land Rover is an interesting beast. For years there was the Defender, then the Range Rover, then the Discovery, and now suddenly there are Land and Range Rovers everywhere.
Despite this two decade old trend, Land Rover has had trouble firing in the mid-size segment. The Freelander was a bit odd-looking, and sadly not good enough for the nameplate to make it to a third generation.
The option was a clean sweep to try and find something suitably rugged or take something already rugged and add a Sport badge to it. The Discovery Sport was born and that gave the brand a new entry point for those who couldn't get away with - or didn't want - an Evoque.
The Discovery Sport has been with us a for a while, so it was time for a check-in on Land Rover's mid-sizer.
Land Rover Discovery Sport 2018: SD4 (177kW) SE 7 SEAT
Is there anything interesting about its design? 8/10
The Discovery Sport's exterior design is pretty much bang-on. The brand has steadily moved away from the square-rigging of the Defender and is entering a fairly happy medium of style and substance. It does look substantial but with the chamfering here, the chiselling there and the (optional) LED daytime running lights, looks thoroughly contemporary without the outright style-chasing of the Rangies.
Inside is a little less inspiring, but again working within how the brand chooses to present itself. Everything works quite well and is very functional and that's exactly how it looks. There are few jarring moments, just nothing spectacular or super-stylish.
Everything inside works quite well and is very functional and that's exactly how it looks. (image: Peter Anderson)
It's a lofty cabin, so four on board is a very comfortable proposition. Behind my driving position I chauffeured a 188cm (6'2") gentleman with room to spare, so most teenagers will be more than happy.
Front, middle and third row dwellers score a pair of cupholders each, for a total of six, with a matching number of bottle holders. Liberally sprinkled through the car are traditional 12V, 5V and USB power supplies, so if you run out, you have Too Many Things To Charge.
Being a Land Rover Discovery, Sport or not, you are not unreasonably expecting plenty of space for outdoor, windswept activities. (image: Peter Anderson)
The boot space kicks off at 829 litres (LR quotes 981, I suspect that is packed floor to ceiling). (image: Peter Anderson)
It has a maximum boot capacity of 1698 litres with all seats folded away. (image: Peter Anderson)
Being a Land Rover Discovery, Sport or not, you are not unreasonably expecting plenty of space for outdoor, windswept activities. The boot space kicks off at 829 litres (LR quotes 981, I suspect that is packed floor to ceiling), with a maximum of 1698 litres with all seats folded away.
All four doors open wide, it's easy to load kids and you can slide the middle row forward and back to bring the kids within striking distance, er, closer to your love.
You do very much notice that this is a big thing before you even climb aboard. (image: Peter Anderson)
Kerb-to-kerb you'll turn it around without hitting anything in a biggish 11.7m, requiring another 20cm if you're suffering an Austin Powers stuck-between-two-walls moment. You can also wade in up to 600mm (without me, if that's okay) and ground clearance is 221mm. Approach angle is 23.4 degrees with a ramp angle of 20.0 degrees and departure of 31.0 degrees.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 7/10
The Discovery Sport comes in three trim levels with up to five engine tunes. Our week was spent with the entry-level SE spec (which is followed by HSE and HSE Luxury, a familiar pattern across JaguarLand Rover) and the perky 177kW SD4 turbo-diesel.
You have a choice of three diesels - TD4 110, TD4 132 and SD4 177, as well as two petrols - Si 4 177kW and 213kW.
18-inch alloys come as standard. (image: Peter Anderson)
The SD4 SE weighs in at $66,455, a chunky $9860 more than the cheapest, 110kW SE. For that you get the strongman engine, a 10-speaker Meridian-branded stereo, 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, a well stocked safety list, reversing camera, sat nav, keyless entry and start, rear parking sensors, cruise control, auto wipers and headlights, electric front seats, partial leather trim, folding heated mirrors, electric tailgate, variable ratio power steering and a full size alloy spare.
There are a truckload of options available and Land Rover never disappoints with its choice of inclusions on press cars. We had the '5+2' seating ($3400), 'Black Pack' exterior ($1160), head up display ($1590), 'Entertainment Pack' (17 speakers, 'Navigation pro', $3750), metallic paint ($1370), 'Blind Spot Monitor' and reverse cross traffic alert ($1210), 12 way electric front seats ($1130), black roof ($970)... look, it went on for a bit and landed the car as tested at $86,485.
A full size alloy spare comes as standard. (image: Peter Anderson)
To be fair, most of the stuff was cosmetic or convenience, but the blind spot and RTCA being options is a tad rugged.
The 'InControl' screen is a healthy 10.0-inch unit and runs a fairly useable iteration of JLR's own software. As things go, it's not too bad but there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (yet). The sat nav input is still maddeningly slow, however.
You do very much notice that this is a big thing before you even climb aboard. The doors are substantial and could double as Sydney to Hobart spinnakers, the trade-off being huge door apertures making it easy for all shapes and sizes to get in.
CarsGuide's 'Patron saint of Height', Richard Berry, found that out while loading his young son Ed in his own week with a Discovery Sport. My son, who is approaching Richard's height at a rapid rate, found the rear seats equally comfortable.
The driving position is classic 'high and commanding', with a terrific view in all directions and that Land Rover core value of knowing where each of the corners is.
Front, middle and third row dwellers score a pair of cupholders each, for a total of six, with a matching number of bottle holders. (image: Peter Anderson)
Fire up and the diesel grumbles for a bit before settling down into a whooshy, distant feel. Throttle response is impressive and, as always, the nine-speed transmission manages most of the things you throw it at apart from sudden lift-offs at middling speeds where it can get a bit confused.
Body roll is consistent and well managed by the dampers and springs and if you can find a park big enough, it's easy to place, something magnified by the Kluger we had the week before - that thing is a pain to park because the cameras and mirrors aren't set up to help you.
If you put it into 'Dynamic' mode, things sharpen up and it feels good. It's never going to be super sprightly and you are still driving a very tall car on long travel suspension, but it handles a bit of a push with surprising vigour.
Both ends of the spectrum are largely down to the steering - with a variable rack ratio, the amount of wheel twirling required changes depending on speed, attitude and driving mode.
It is worth noting that the side curtain airbags do not reach the third row of seats. (image: Peter Anderson)
The ride around town is mostly good, but as with past experience with the optional wheels bolted on, probably a little less plush than you might expect. It does thunk a bit through depressions in the road, but you're well insulated from the predictable tyre noise.
Being a giant sook, I didn't throw the Discovery Sport down an off-road track so I could, a) take it to its limits, and, b) get photos of the car in mud and rivers and stuff.
The first and last thing you notice about the Disco Sport is that it feels like its bigger Discovery sibling when pottering about. Plenty of SUV buyers I talk to love that big lazy feel and the Disco Sport delivers, along with genuine off road capability.
Warranty & Safety Rating
3 years / 100,000 km
ANCAP Safety Rating
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 7/10
The Discovery Sport scored a maximum five ANCAP stars in April 2015. It is worth noting that the side curtain airbags do not reach the third row of seats.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 7/10
Land Rover offers a three-year/100,000km warranty along with roadside assistance extended every time you service the car at an authorised dealer. The package includes extracting you if you're bogged on four-wheel drive tracks.
Service intervals are set at 12 months/16,000km and you can pre-purchase six years of servicing for around $1500.
“It's a bit of a packing crate on wheels - although less than the Discovery - but looks pretty good while doing it. Even though the base price is attractive, its difficult to see anybody taking a stock SE from the lot and I'd be willing to bet Land Rover would bring in two or three and then spend a year finding buyers for them.”
Is the Discovery Sport worthy of the first part of its name? Let us know in the comnments below.