You can now buy a Land Rover Discovery Sport with a petrol-electric Plug-In Hybrid powertrain, offering an electric range of up to 34 miles, 141mpg, and 44g/km CO2 emissions.
Land Rover’s model line-up over recent years has primarily featured diesel engines. However car buyers have moved away from diesels, thanks to newspaper headlines, and because the Benefit in Kind tax rate makes diesel cars very expensive for company car drivers. So Land Rover is now offering a solution to this issue: a Discovery Sport with a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e has a 200hp 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre petrol engine combined with a new 8-speed automatic transmission, and a 109hp (80kW) electric motor on the rear axle powered by a 15kWh lithium-ion battery. The battery that powers the Electric Rear Axle Drive (ERAD) is located under the rear seats.
The Discovery Sport is a more practical shape than the Range Rover Evoque, with 897 litres of boot capacity. However you can’t have a 7-seat option with the Discovery Sport PHEV powertrain.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e has a 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre petrol engine. So many people’s main question is likely to be “does such a small engine work in a vehicle that weighs 2,168kg?”. Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is yes. Under normal driving, and even on the motorway, progress is fine – helped by the petrol engine being assisted by the electric motor. It’s mainly during enthusiastic acceleration when the 3-cylinder engine slightly intrudes from an audible point of view.
You can select D or S using the gear selector, and you can use the steering wheel-mounted paddles to change gear manually.
There’s an EV button at the bottom right of the centre console. This brings up the options of three drive modes on the instrument display: Hybrid, EV and Save.
There’s also a button on the centre console with a graphic of a vehicle off-road. If you press this, the right-hand cabin temperature dial turns into a selector for the Terrain Response system. This gives you the options of Eco, Normal, and then three off-road settings.
All our reviews of Land Rovers have included an off-road test – as this is what they’re designed for – but as this was a first drive, this wasn’t possible, but we hope to find out how the Discovery Sport PHEV performs on a longer test very soon. However we have tested the diesel Land Rover Discovery Sport off-road and it was very impressive. A key point to note is that the Discovery Sport (and the Range Rover Evoque) has ‘Electric Rear Wheel Drive’. This means that the electric motor drives the rear axle. So if you’re in EV mode, you can’t have all-wheel drive. And if you want an off-road drive mode, you can’t have electric propulsion. This is in contrast to the Range Rover PHEV and Range Rover Sport PHEV, which have ‘Electric All-Wheel Drive’.
In Hybrid mode, the Discovery Sport PHEV chooses between using electric power (which is prioritised) and using the petrol engine. If all-wheel drive is needed, the car will select both power sources.
At speeds above 84mph the electric motor is decoupled to reduce drag and optimise efficiency.
Overall refinement is impressive, ride quality is comfortable, and handling is good, considering that this is a heavy and tall car.
The Discovery Sport had a ‘ClearSight’ Rear View Mirror, which gives you the option of seeing rearwards using a camera, or you have the option to flick it to a conventional mirror. Our test car also had a Head-Up Display.
The latest infotainment system appears to be an improvement over earlier systems.
The official WLTP combined fuel economy for the Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e plug-in hybrid is 141mpg, with 44g/km CO2 emissions, and an electric range of up to 34 miles. We’ve spent 14 years testing and reporting on the real-life economy of cars, but, like our off-road testing, this wasn’t possible on this first drive.
The Discovery Sport P300e can be recharged from 0-80 per cent from a 7kW AC domestic wall box in 1 hour 24 minutes. A full charge from a domestic plug socket takes 6 hours 42 minutes. It can also be rapid charged from 0-80 per cent in 30 minutes using a 32KW DC public charger.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e PHEV is available from £45,370. The Discovery Sport PHEV has a 10 percent Benefit in Kind rate in 2020/21.
The Discovery Sport is available in R-Dynamic S, SE and HSE specifications.
During our relatively limited first drive, the Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e PHEV appeared to be a genuinely capable all-rounder. It was sufficiently responsive, it had a comfortable ride, it was generally refined, and, even without seven seats, it’s a spacious, practical size. Like most plug-in hybrids, the driving experience was best when on electric power. This zero tailpipe form of propulsion will take you up to 34 miles before you have to use the 3-cylinder petrol engine.
This first drive event format didn’t allow any test of real-life fuel economy, or off-road ability – we would hope to report back on these areas soon. But in the meantime the Discovery Sport P300e is a welcome new choice for Land Rover buyers. It may not be a pure EV, but it will hopefully provide a stepping stone for petrol and diesel buyers to try out a part-electric vehicle, and when they find that they prefer driving on electric rather than petrol power, hopefully they’ll be able to opt for a pure electric 4×4 next time they buy a Land Rover.
Our standard advice for plug-in hybrid buyers remains: PHEVs are designed for people who will primarily drive the car on electric power, ie. journeys of around 30 miles or less between charges – with occasional longer journeys. If you drive a two-tonne PHEV SUV up and down the nation’s motorways without charging it, you’re likely to be very disappointed with the fuel economy, and the emissions will be nowhere near the official figure.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e PHEV gains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.