The new Land Rover Discovery Sport SE is very refined on the road, extremely capable off the road, it offers a family-friendly seven-seat layout, mild hybrid technology is featured now, and a plug-in hybrid model is on the way.
It wasn’t too long ago that big 4x4s were seen as the antithesis of green cars. This still may be the case in many people’s eyes, but this view is much harder to justify as 4x4s appear that can be propelled on zero tailpipe emission electric power. The new Land Rover Discovery Sport SE will have a plug-in hybrid powertrain coming soon, but in the meantime we’ve sampled a diesel version, to give us a feel for what we can expect from this new model.
The new Land Rover Discovery Sport is a good-looking car – but it looks like a mildly updated version of the last model. However, like the new Evoque (which shares the same chassis), this new model is completely new under the surface. One of the key changes is that the new platform has been designed to accommodate petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains. The plug-in hybrid model isn’t available yet, so our test was of the D180, which features a 4-cylinder, 2.0 litre 180HP Turbocharged Diesel engine with a 48-volt MHEV (mild hybrid) system, 9-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive.
The MHEV system uses an engine-mounted belt-integrated starter generator to capture energy normally lost during deceleration and stores it in an underfloor battery. At speeds below 11mph the engine will cut off when the brakes are applied, before the stored energy is re-used to assist the engine under acceleration. This helps to reduce fuel consumption, but compared to a regular hybrid, which also captures energy from braking, the gains aren’t huge. The MHEV system is fitted as standard on all Discovery Sport models, apart from the entry-level D150 with manual transmission.
All-Wheel Drive models also feature Driveline Disconnect; a Power Transfer Unit at the front axle disconnects drive to the rear wheels when cruising, reducing frictional losses and therefore improving economy. The system re-engages AWD if needed in less than 500 milliseconds.
In terms of off-road ability, the new Discovery Sport has ground clearance of 212mm, a wading depth of 600mm, and Terrain Response 2 automatically selects the best off-road drive mode for the vehicle.
A seating layout of ‘5 + 2’ is standard on all engines with automatic transmission, and there’s even a 20 per cent increase in fuel tank capacity, which is now up to 67 litres.
The Discovery Sport has a 2,500kg towing capacity and Advanced Tow Assist makes reversing with a trailer easier.
The main difference between this latest Land Rover Discovery Sport and the previous model is a significant improvement in refinement. The same is true with the latest Evoque – perhaps not a surprise, as both vehicles share the new platform. The refined driving experience is evident in most conditions, including at motorway speeds.
Which makes it all the more amazing how a vehicle that is so refined on the road can also do such incredible things off road. The launch event included a route on some fantastic minor roads between Ullswater and Yorkshire, and then a drive around the Land Rover Experience at Skipton. This facility is in an incredible elevated position, with views for miles around, yet the off-road course is hidden away, and includes lots of steep and slippery descents as well as a good opportunity to try the wading capabilities of the vehicle. Despite having no air suspension, the Discovery Sport coped admirably well with everything that was thrown at it, and the hill descent control system in particular was put to many tests, and passed all with flying colours.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport has Terrain Response 2 technology; you can select from a range of terrain options, such as snow & ice, mud & ruts, and sand – or you can leave it in auto. It’s worth noting that, with the press of a button, the right-hand cabin temperature dial doubles up as the Terrain Response 2 selector. Once you’ve made your selection, it reverts back to cabin climate duties. We’d probably prefer having the Terrain Response selector visible at all times, even if this means a few more controls on the centre console.
Apart from the Terrain Response settings, there are no drive mode options for on-road, apart from the ability to choose Drive or Sport using the transmission selector (and there’s an Eco setting on the hidden-away Terrain Response selector). And there are no steering-wheel mounted paddles to change gear. Talking of which, gear changes could occasionally be slow, especially when in Drive rather than Sport. The steering is slightly on the light/over-assisted side (probably ideal for the school run but less ideal for Yorkshire’s best back roads), but the ride quality is generally good. Handling? This is a two-tonne high-riding diesel SUV with seven seats, and suspension that can cope with the worst off-road conditions; if you judge the handling while bearing this background in mind, it’s better than you might expect.
In the relatively limited time spent with the Discovery Sport, the latest Touch Pro infotainment technology seemed to be an improvement on some previous JLR systems, but we’d have to live with it over a longer period to cast a definitive judgment.
The official WLTP combined fuel economy for the Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 AWD SE is 37.2mpg, with CO2 emissions of 150 g/km. On the one-day launch event we weren’t able to record real-world fuel economy, but based on dashboard read-outs, it was impossible to see any significant gain in economy from the 48-volt mild hybrid system.
If you want the most efficient Discovery Sport model, at the time of writing this is the D150 with front-wheel drive and manual transmission, which returns WLTP fuel economy of 47.8mpg and emissions of 140g/km of CO2. This model also already complies with the more stringent Real Driving Emissions stage 2 (RDE2) ‘real-world on-road’ emissions standards, aimed at reducing harmful NOx particulates, ahead of the January 2020 introduction.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 AWD SE costs £43,175. It has a ‘5 + 2’ seats configuration, which is standard on engines with automatic transmission.
Our test car had options of Yulong White paint (£950), 20″ alloys (£640), Privacy Glass (£400), front and rear 12V and USB with loadspace USB (£100), Fixed Panoramic Roof (£1,100), taking the total price as tested to £46,365.
An option worth considering, especially if you’re planning lots of off-road adventures, is the ClearSight Ground View technology, which allows the driver to ‘see through’ the bonnet. Also available is a smart high-definition rear-view mirror that transforms into a video screen, offering a wider (50 degree) field of vision, better visibility in low light conditions, and a better rear view if the boot is full of luggage.
The new Discovery Sport is available in Discovery Sport, S, SE and HSE trim, in addition to the R-Dynamic variants. All engines are 2-litre capacity and comprise of the D150, D180, D240, P200 and P250 – all come with automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. There’s also the entry-level D150 which is manual and front-wheel drive only, priced from £31,575.
The plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) variant will also join the range soon.
Because of climate change, we need to drive low CO2 cars. But in the UK, because of climate change, we’re experiencing increasingly severe flooding, so you can’t blame people for wanting a car that will cope with whatever weather our climate will throw at it, and the Discovery Sport certainly meets this brief. It’s also much more refined on the road than the previous model, and it has seven seats, so it’s an impressive all-round practical package. Although the diesel is likely to be more economical in real-life than the petrol model, and all the diesel engines have to be RDE2 compliant very soon – which means that they are much, much cleaner than older diesel engines when it comes to the emissions that impact on air quality – it’s the plug-in hybrid model that’s of most interest to us, but that’s not quite here yet. In the meantime the latest Land Rover Discovery Sport gains a very respectable Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10. If you are looking for more reviews, similar to our Land Rover Discovery Sport SE review above then please browse through the site or go through to our Land Rover Discovery Sport review page.