Independent, Expert EV Reviews & Advice Since 2006

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT P300E PLUG-IN HYBRID REVIEW

The Land Rover Discovery Sport petrol-electric Plug-In Hybrid offers off-road ability and electric driving, in a practical, comfortable and upmarket package.

  • Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV
Green Car Guide Rating: 8/10

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:   Land Rover Discovery Sport Plug-In Hybrid P300e AWD AUTO R-DYNAMIC S
  • Fuel:   Petrol-electric plug-in hybrid
  • Fuel economy combined (WLTP):   141 mpg

Summary

  • The Land Rover Discovery Sport has impressive off-road capability
  • Plug-In Hybrid model means you can also drive it in all-electric mode
  • But you can’t do both of the above at the same time
  • Upmarket, refined, and a comfortable ride

BACKGROUND

Most Land Rovers in recent years have featured diesel engines, but now you can buy a Discovery Sport with a Plug-In Hybrid powertrain, offering an electric range of up to 34 miles, with a petrol engine for longer journeys. We’ve already had a first drive experience of the P300e Plug-In Hybrid, but after now living with the car for a week, does this Discovery Sport genuinely offer Land Rover go anywhere ability and zero emissions capability, ie. the best of both worlds?

Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEVLand Rover Discovery Sport PHEV

DESIGN & ENGINEERING

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 a larger boot with 897 litres of capacity. However you can’t have a 7-seat option with the Discovery Sport PHEV powertrain. But the rear seats do slide forwards and backwards to give you more space in the boot or more rear legroom. There’s also an empty space for the spare wheel under the boot which can easily accommodate the charging cables.

The interior is very Range Rover-like, especially with the light oyster/ebony leather of our test car.

Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEVLand Rover Discovery Sport PHEV

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT P300E DRIVING EXPERIENCE

A key feature of the driving experience of our test car was the extremely comfortable ride. The previous Discovery Sports that we’ve driven also had good ride quality, but we suspect that the modestly-sized alloy wheels and high profile tyres of our test car resulted in a particularly comfortable experience – even though our Discovery Sport didn’t look very sporty with these wheels and tyres. The ride quality is combined with high levels of refinement and good sound insulation, resulting in a very pleasant driving experience on all roads including motorways.

The laws of physics dictate how a tall SUV weighing almost two tonnes with comfortable suspension should perform through corners, and the handling of Discovery Sport matched this expectation – so the ‘Sport’ tagged on to the Discovery name may be a bit misleading in this context. The steering also feels light for a Land Rover with the word Sport in its name.

The 2,168kg weight also makes you wonder how the 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre petrol engine is going to perform in this vehicle. Surprisingly, there’s generally enough response, both on normal roads and on motorways, and even the engine noise is kept at bay unless the car is really pushed.

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 (a different system for controlling the hybrid powertrain than in the Evoque). This brings up the options of three drive modes on the instrument display: Hybrid, EV and Save (there’s no ‘Charge’ option). This EV button is small and quite hidden away, and it doesn’t click when you press it, so it’s not the easiest way to select powertrain modes. Also the instrument panel displays the electric range when you first get in the car but it doesn’t show the range after that.

There’s 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 road-going options of Dynamic, Eco and Comfort, and then four off-road settings: Auto Terrain Response, Grass Gravel Snow, Mud Ruts, and Sand.

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 (so you can experience wheelspin even when accelerating out of wet tarmac junctions in EV mode, which is very un-Land Rover-like). 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 both 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.

Compared to our brief first drive review, this time we were able to carry out a limited off-road test, when the Discovery Sport appears to be as capable as you would expect – although as noted above you have to burn fuel and generate emissions and noise from the petrol engine when all-wheel drive is needed.

The infomedia system is an improvement on some older, slower JLR systems; there’s a wide touchscreen, but there are no physical shortcut buttons. Unlike the Range Rover Evoque, which has two central screens, there’s only one central screen in the Discovery Sport.

Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEVLand Rover Discovery Sport PHEV

LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT P300E ECONOMY AND EMISSIONS

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.

A key reason that we want to review cars over a week rather than just on a brief first drive is so we can test the real-life fuel economy. After a week with the car, with mixed driving, we averaged 46.5mpg. The Discovery Sport typically projected a real-world electric range of 30 miles after a full charge and the total range prediction was 365 miles on petrol and electric.

A plug-in hybrid can achieve fuel economy of over 100mpg if driven primarily on electric power, with almost any economy figure possible depending on the petrol/electric driving split. So an essential measure for us is the fuel economy of a plug-in hybrid at motorway speeds of 70mph on the petrol engine. The Discovery Sport didn’t fare too well here, averaging just 33.1mpg. On one hand, this isn’t too surprising, as this is a large SUV weighing around 2.2 tonnes. However the latest plug-in hybrid versions of the Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4 both have larger 2.4/2.5-litre engines respectively, which aim to deliver better fuel economy at motorway speeds – 40 mpg+ for the Outlander, and often 50mpg+ for the RAV4 in real-world driving – whereas the Discovery Sport’s smaller 3-cylinder, 1.5-litre engine struggled to achieve better than 35mpg at motorway speeds.

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.

Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEVLand Rover Discovery Sport PHEV

PRICE AND MODEL RANGE

The Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e PHEV is available from £45,370. Our test car had a number of options fitted: Hakuba Silver Metallic Paint (£705), Black Contrast Roof (£610), Powered Tailgate (£425), Keyless Entry (£420), Privacy Glass (£420), Configurable Dynamics (£225), Driver Assist Pack (£1,305) and Home Charging Cable, Mode 2, 3 pin domestic plug (£300); taking the price as tested to £51,410.

The Discovery Sport PHEV is available in R-Dynamic S, SE and HSE specifications and has a 13 percent Benefit in Kind rate in 2021/22.

Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEVLand Rover Discovery Sport PHEV

Conclusion

The Land Rover Discovery Sport P300e PHEV is 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. However the 33mpg at motorway speeds is disappointing, as is the inability to benefit from all-wheel drive traction in electric mode.

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.

Car facts and figures LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT P300E PLUG-IN HYBRID REVIEW

  • Test economy: 46.5 mpg
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 44 g/km
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):   TBC
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2021/22): 13%
  • Price:   From £45,370
  • Insurance group:   TBC
  • Power:   309 PS
  • Torque:   540 Nm
  • Max speed:   130 mph
  • 0-62 mph:   6.6 seconds
  • Weight:   2168 kg
Paul Clarke

Review by:
Paul Clarke, GreenCarGuide Editor