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Land Rover Discovery


Land Rover Discovery Sport

Summary

Land Rover Discovery

I know what you’re thinking; this new Land Rover Discovery has gone a bit soft.

It’s built on the road-focused Range Rover Sport platform now. It’s lighter. And safer. Better equipped. Less, well, square. Hell, it’s even offered with a choice of two tiny four-cylinder engines, along with the traditional V6 unit.

And all of that surely means it’s just a little less rugged than the cars that have gone before it, right?

But Land Rover assures us that is actually not the case, declaring this all-new, fifth-generation car the most capable Disco ever.

So have they gone stark Rovering mad?

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency8.8L/100km
Seating5 seats

Land Rover Discovery Sport

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.

Add in the Range Rover Evoque, Sport, and Velar, and there's something for just about everyone in this SUV-mad world. If Land Rover's founders were around, they's probably be mildly perplexed.

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.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency6.4L/100km
Seating7 seats

Verdict

Land Rover Discovery7.6/10

It's a hell of a job, keeping the purists happy. But on first impressions, this new Disco should just about pull it off. Comfortable on the road, and capable of tackling anything its owners are likely to throw at it off it. Be prepared to spend up if you want a well-optioned one, though.

For us, though, the equipment of the HSE trim level blended with the power of the V6 engine is the pick of the bunch.

Are you keen to dance in this Disco? Tell us what you think in the comments below


Land Rover Discovery Sport7.4/10

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.

Ultimately, this is a car that covers a lot of ground. It works well in the city, can go much further than most German rivals could hope to (would you cross the Simpson in BMW, Merc or Audi?) and does it all with exceptional interior comfort.

Is the Discovery Sport worthy of the first part of its name? Let us know in the comnments below.

Design

Land Rover Discovery8/10

Land Rover has attempted a sleeker, more urban design this time around, only without losing all of its boxy heritage, and the results are, well, a little confusing.

Viewed front on, this new Disco looks smooth and powerful, with a narrow bonnet that drops into the flared arches of the front wheels adding instant road presence. And from the rear it looks good, too.

Some will argue that the offset numberplate is an over-indulgence, or that it looks a little fridge-like with its narrow and tall dimensions, but we like it.

But it’s the three-quarter view that’s a little hard to stomach, with the smooth lines of the front end meeting the squared-off rear with all the subtlety of a wave meeting the shoreline.

Inside, though, it’s a picture of premium, with soft-touch cabin materials and a stylish, unfussy dash setup oozing a sense of considered quality.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

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.

Practicality

Land Rover Discovery9/10

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given it’s the size of small apartment block, the Disco’s people-and-cargo-carrying abilities are first rate. The official dimensions are 4970mm are long, 1846mm high and 2220mm wide, but that translates most simply as bloody massive.

Up front, there’s plenty of space for front-seat riders, though the super-wide central unit that runs from the dash to the centre console and houses everything from the touchscreen unit to the 4WD controls does eat into knee room a little. Front seat riders will share two central cupholders, and there’s room in the all doors for bottles.

Climb into the massive second row (it’s three-adults-across-the-middle big) and you’ll find your surroundings hinge on what trim level you’re in, with top-spec models adding climate control functions, dual USB points and two cupholders housed in a pulldown divider.

Opt for a seven-seat model (and you probably should) and you’ll find access to the third row a little tricky, but once there the space is genuinely impressive. At 176cm, I’m far from the tallest tester, but I do consider myself adult-sized, and I had clear air between my knees and the seat in front, and between my head and the ceiling.

Flatten the second and third seat (which you can do remotely via an app, should you so wish) and you’ll be able to squeeze 2,500 litres of cargo on board, helped by its two-metre load length and 1.4-metre load width. But drop only the third row and you’ll still get 1,231 litres. And you can add to that up to 21 separate storage areas that can add another 45 litres of space.

There’s also two or four ISOFIX attachment points, with two in the second row in all models joining another two in the third row for seven-seat cars.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

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. 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.

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.

Price and features

Land Rover Discovery7/10

It’s a complicated lineup, with three engines available in any of the four trim grades, which in turn are offered with five or seven seats, plus there’s a launch special called the First Edition to further muddy the waters.

And that means you can technically climb into a pared-back Discovery S for a low $65,960 for a five-seater, or stretch to $131,870 for a full-fruit launch edition, with the vast area between those two numbers populated by everything else. 

The entry-level S ($65,960 - $84,671) is a fairly simple offering, with 19-inch alloys, cloth seats, a leather-wrapped wheel with paddle-shifters and two-zone manual climate control the pick of a sparse standard inclusions list. Cruise control is also standard fit, as is a raised inner-boot guard that stops your luggage falling out when you open the boot.

Step up to the SE ($77,050 - $94,701) and you’ll add standard air suspension, with fixed height settings for off-road, normal and access (which lowers the car if you need to pass under a low roof, for example), along with rain-sensing wipers and powered and heated wing mirrors.

LED headlights (with an undeniably cool Nike Swoosh-style design) and leather seats also join the party at the SE level, as does ambient interior lighting and front parking sensors, while your eight-inch touchscreen is now nav-equipped, and pairs with a better, 10-speaker stereo.

Next is the HSE trim ($87,150 - $103,661), which adds some cool design elements, like LED taillights, 20-inch alloys outside, along with winged headrests, quality woodgrain highlights and even more ambient lighting inside. Your climate is now three-zone, too, and some bonus hiding holes appear (like a clever storage compartment under the front cupholders that only appears when you slide the unit forward). Your stereo is upgraded to a 10-speaker Meridian unit, too, and is controlled through a bigger, 10-inch touchscreen.

At the top of the regular Disco family tree, is the HSE Luxury ($100,950 - $117,461), which is a not-insignificant amount of money no matter which way you shake it. For that spend, though, you’ll add a powered sunroof, unique 20-inch alloys and finer leather on your seats, which are now also heated and cooled in the front. You’ll also add a surround-view camera and get the pick of the sound-systems; a 14-speaker Meridian unit. 

On the 4WD front, everything but the entry-point S models get a low-range-equipped 4WD system (the S is high-range only), and Range Rover's Terrain Response (which allows you to select traction settings based on the whether you're driving one mud, rocks, sand etc) is standard across the range. The newer Terrain Response 2, which automatically senses the surface and adjusts accordingly, is a cost option.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

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 Jaguar Land 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.

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.

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.

Engine & trans

Land Rover Discovery8/10

There’s three diesel power plants on offer, and each pairs with an eight-speed automatic gearbox that channels power to all four wheels. 

The entry level (and destined to be unpopular) option is the lesser of the two four-cylinder engines, 2.0-litre “Ingenium” unit that will deliver 132kW and 430Nm.

We’re yet to test the low-output option, to be honest, but we’d be shocked if buyers found it ample to shift the Disco’s bulk, even if this new model is a staggering 480kg lighter than its predecessor. Land Rover says that engine will help produce a 10.5-second sprint to 100km/h.

Better, then, to step up to the more powerful version of that engine, which produces 177kW and 500Nm thanks to some tuning tweaks. As a result, a far more palatable sprint time of 8.3 seconds can be achieved. 

But for ours, the best-suited option remains the powerful 3.0-litre diesel V6, which will fire 190kW and 600Nm to the tyres on demand. And the result of all this extra grunt? A slightly improved sprint claim of 8.1 seconds. But those numbers don’t tell the full story of an engine that feels more urgent and eager when you prod the accelerator.


Land Rover Discovery Sport8/10

The SD4 unit is JLR's own 'Ingenium' unit. A 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, good for 177kW and a brawny 500Nm. Power and road meet via all four wheels and a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The benchmark run from 0-100km/h is dispatched in 7.5 seconds, which is swift enough and not bad for 1.9 tonnes of SUV. The Disco Sport is rated to tow 2500kg of braked trailer and 750kg unbraked.

Fuel consumption

Land Rover Discovery8/10

The lowest-output diesel will drink 6.3-litres per hundred kilometres on the claimed/combined cycle, with that number climbing to an only slightly worse 6.5 litres for the more powerful four-cylinder unit. 

Opt for the V6, though, and your fuel use climbs to 7.2 litres per hundred kilometres (claimed/combined). 


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Land Rover claims the Discovery Sport will sip 6.4L/100km on the combined cycle. The best we could manage was an even 10.0L/100km in a mix of suburban and freeway running (split about 70/30).

Driving

Land Rover Discovery7/10

Land Rover is faced with the most impossible of challenges with this new Disco. For one, it’s filling in for the legendary Defender as the brand’s most capable offering, and that means it needs to be able to go places and do things a Range Rover simply can’t. Anything less will have the purists frothing.

But equally, Land Rover knows that the overwhelming majority of its customers are unlikely to tackle anything more challenging than a suburban speed bump, and so they needed to soften its image and improve its road manners, without sacrificing capability.

So Land Rover pointed the Disco’s nose towards Australia’s red centre, putting its fleet through their paces on the sealed roads and red dirt tracks that encircle Uluru. And on a custom-built track consisting of moguls, water crossings and angled climbs sharp enough to put some articulation pressure on the wheels, the Disco conquered all before it with ease. 

It must be said, though, that there was nothing on offer that would genuinely challenge it, but equally, the Disco always felt like it had plenty in reserve, too. And with a maximum 283mm ground clearance, 500mm of wheel articulation and a wading depth of 900mm (which is 200mm more than outgoing model), along with air suspension on all but the entry-level S, it does point to some genuine off-road potential.

On our brief tarmac drive we were surprised by the smooth and steady power delivery of the bigger four-cylinder diesel, which propels the two-tonne-plus Land Rover along with surprising ease. It’s not fast, but it never feels underwhelming.

But the pick for us was the six-cylinder option, which unlocks its 600Nm low in the rev range and feels a far more natural fit for the big Disco. It’s louder and little more gruff than its four-cylinder sibling, but it feels faster, too. And for us, that’s a fair trade off.

The Disco happily switched from tarmac to rutted tracks with ease, and while the super-smooth tarmac of the Northern Territory wasn't much of a challenge, it sorted out the worst of the off-road stuff with little bother.

Australia’s outback famously offers up very little in the way of cornering, but the few we did encounter had us a little concerned with the top-heavy nature of the Discovery, with sharp direction changes sending passengers into a noticeable wobble. 

Still, our limited wheel time means we’ll be reserving final judgement until we can spend more time with each variant, but our taste-test sample reveals a car that does appear to straddle that line between capable and comfortable.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

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.

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.

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.

Safety

Land Rover Discovery7/10

The Discovery range has been awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating, six airbags (front, front-side and curtain), a reversing camera, AEB and Lane Departure Warning fitted on every model, joining  the usual suite of traction and braking aids.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

Jaguar Land Rover's Halewood, UK factory fits seven airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, forward AEB, lane departure warning and hill descent control.

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.

Ownership

Land Rover Discovery7/10

The Discovery range is covered by a three-year, 100,000km warranty, but you can extend that to five years at an extra cost. You can also pre-pay your service costs for the first five years of ownership.

The four-cylinder engines get genuinely impressive service intervals of 24 months/34,000km, while the V6 requires a trip to the dealership every 12 months or 26,000km.


Land Rover Discovery Sport7/10

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.