What's it like to drive?
It was the ultimate test... for the Discovery Sport, but especially for me. My wife was going overseas on a work trip for 11 days and I’d be flying solo with my two-year-old son. That meant 10 day care drop-offs and pick-ups and two weekends of trips to the park, to the grandparent’s, to the supermarket and to get him to sleep. It was as much a threat to my sanity as it was to my lower back.
The week before, I’d tested an Alfa Romeo Giulietta, which despite being cuter than a basket of bunnies isn’t the most practical. Knowing the Disco Sport would be my rolling childcare centre alleviated some anxiety.
We made it through, just.
Those wide opening tall doors made getting the boy in and out of his car seat straightforward and easy on the back. The ride height meant his car seat was at the same level I carry him. The ‘one-touch’ proximity unlocking isn’t the most seamless, but when you have a kid in one arm, his backpack, plus shopping in the other, being able to touch the handle with a pinky and opening all the doors is a god send. So is the auto tailgate but it doesn’t open high enough. Well, it does, it’s just that the plastic interior trim on it is bulky and hangs lower and I kept bashing my head on it until I learnt not to.
Big windows with low sills make for excellent visibility for driving and also for kids in the back who don’t have to stare at a door the entire time.
I had trouble finding the ‘Sport’ in Discovery Sport. The Si4 SE’s four-cylinder petrol engine does have an impressive output, but it needs to haul close to two tonnes, sure the 0-100km/h time of 8.2 seconds isn’t dawdling, but it’s not going to win many drag races.
By coincidence the Alfa Romeo Giulietta has a turbo-four with exactly the same output and can hit 100km/h in six seconds, but it weighs about 600kg less.
On smooth tarmac our Discovery Sport’s ride was comfortable and composed, but on less-than-perfect roads things became a bit more ‘brittle’ and harsh. Those optional 19-inch wheels and the 235/55 Continental tyres seemed to feel every crack in the road. It’s no biggie, but after doing laps of the neighbourhood to try to get your little bloke to fall asleep, a pothole approaching just as he’s nodding off made my eyes grow wide with terror.
Grip though from those tyres was good, and so was the junior Disco's handling; especially impressive for something with these proportions.
The 212mm of ground clearance and 600mm wading depth, along with the Terrain Response system really separates the Discovery Sport from the Germans. While all of them will and should remain firmly on the road the Disco Sport can go much further afield.