The opportunity to put a Discovery Sport up against a Range Rover Evoque is too good to miss. Especially since these two are mechanically almost identical; both have the 2.2 SD4 engine and the same nine-speed ZF 9HP automatic gearbox, although they do have very different suspension set ups.
I’m hoping this test might help to settle the debate about which one of these two vehicles we’d choose for a daily driver.
The Start Line
Before today, I’d have instantly said an Evoque. I like its looks and I love the vigorous performance; at least for a half-hour romp on country roads. If, like today’s example,
its equipped with MagneRideTM suspension, the Evoque has great on-road handling and performance. For me, the standard Discovery Sport is neither agile enough on-road to match the Evoque (Only the new HSE Dynamic Lux models get MagneRideTM in the UK) and is not good enough off-road to really be a Discovery. Perhaps this head-to-head contest will change my mind?
In the interests of balance and fair play, I’ve roped in deputy editor Neil too. But it seems he doesn’t like the Evoque at all and isn’t that impressed with the Discovery Sport either. He thinks they’re both too bland, lacking that ‘specialness’ that previous generations all have. I’m inclined to agree with him to a point, but I do like Evoque’s looks.
We both remain open to persuasion...
We make our way to a quiet corner of the county to remind ourselves just how the Disco Sport and Evoque handle the twisty country roads we know. Initially, I’m in the Evoque and Watty’s in the Disco. Whether it’s because my right foot is a bit heavier than Neil’s or the Evoque is just more nimble, I find it very easy to keep up with him on bumpy B-roads. But on the straighter sections, both are more evenly matched; not that we’re racing of course. Honestly.
I’ve dialled-in Dynamic mode on the Evoque’s Terrain Response (the Disco Sport doesn’t have that option) and selected Sport mode for the autobox. The gauges glow red instead of white, and the engine revs hang around a little longer in each gear; kick-down is even more enthusiastic.
The Evoque’s ride is very firm and handling is hard and flat. Although the roads are dry, it’s easy to provoke understeer when you enter a bend quickly and apply the power too early. In the wet, this could really put a dampener on things. I calm things down and select the standard road setting in Terrain Response and ‘D’ rather than Sport mode, for the autobox. Handling remains very impressive, but the ride doesn’t improve that much; it remains fidgety and pitches the car diagonally over the rustic road surface.
The Disco Sport feels more stodgy and prone to body roll, especially if driven exuberantly. Despite its slightly softer suspension, the ride feels just as fidgety and nervous at lower speeds. The big difference is visibility; the view out is much more Discovery-like than the Evoque. The Evoque’s big door mirrors and letterbox rear view seriously limit your ability to see out in certain situations.
Let's Go Off-Road!
Yarwell quarry is the ideal location to compare these two machines side-by-side off-road. The loose sandy surface, steep hills and water hazards provide everything we need, without taking either vehicle outside their design parameters or our comfort zone. We start with a frisky frolic on a wide, flat-ish area of loose sand. Straight away the Disco Sport looks more at home than the Evoque. Its more supple suspension helps it to romp about far more confidently. There are at least two major factors at play here: firstly, the Disco Sport has tyres more suited to the job – 235/55 R19 Continental Cross Contact Sport LX tyres versus the Evoque’s Pirelli Scorpion 245/45 R20 rubber wear. Secondly, the Disco Sport’s more sophisticated integral multi-link rear suspension improves its off-road articulation, giving more rear wheel travel, compared to the stiffer, sports car style set up on the Evoque.
Don’t run away with the idea that the Disco Sport is a supreme off-road performer, though. Compared to a Disco 4, it’s very limited. It’s just that it feels better than the Evoque – but not by much. A bit like saying Sylvester Stallone can act better than Steven Segal.
When you crunch the statistics for each, it’s hard to see why this could be. For example, front axle clearances are near identical. And, the Evoque’s departure and ramp over angles are also better than the Disco Sport’s – 33 degrees versus 31 degrees and 22 degrees versus 21 degrees, respectively. One off-road statistic that the Disco Sport wins is wading depth, at 600mm, it’s 100mm greater than the Evoque’s. However, the problem with numbers and vital statistics is that they rarely tell the whole story.
For example, although the front axle clearances are virtually the same, it was the Evoque’s bumper that proved more vulnerable than the Disco’s, confirming to us that the Disco Sport is more suited to the rough-stuff.
So, do we have a winner?
After hours of driving and much discussion before and after today’s testing, we’ve both come to the same opinion; which is a first.
We both agree that the Disco Sport feels more at home off-road than the Evoque – largely thanks to its greater rear wheel articulation and more supple suspension – and we both agree that the Evoque is a better driver’s car on-road; the Disco rolls too much on twisty roads. MagneRideTM equipped Disco Sports shouldn’t su er that particular ill.
We also agree that the internal packaging of the Disco Sport makes it the better family car, compared to the cramped Evoque. But with all seven seats in use there’s nowhere for any luggage in the Disco, so it’s not all good news.
So, which is the best all-rounder? There really isn’t much between them and it all comes down to your priorities. If you have a family, buy the Disco Sport. If you don’t, you’ll enjoy the Evoque more.
Against the odds, it seems all we’ve actually done is prove that Land Rover was right when they told us: ‘The Evoque is designed for “me”, the Discovery Sport for “we”.’ And, we’d both actually rather have a Freelander 2...