Engine: 2179cc SD4 turbodiesel
Power/ Torque: 187bhp/310lb ft
Transmission: Nine-speed auto
Speed: 117 mph/0-60mph: 8.4sec
Width (inc wing mirrors): 2173mm
Wheelbase: 2741mm (108in)
Wading depth: 600mm
Ramp breakover: 21°
Factory combined mpg: 44
LRO RWT mpg: 35.9
Price as tested: £40,815
380 MILES TO GET THE FULL LOWDOWN...
The Discovery Sport is aimed at active families who need their car to act a bit like a Transformer; people who might not always travel seven-up, or get it caked in mud every day – but like to know that they could if they wanted to, or if the need arose. Land Rover insists that this is a ‘white-space’ new Discovery model, not a replacement for the Freelander 2 – particularly in seven-seat form – but to us it’s always seemed like a more expensive F2 with a more upmarket badge.
So this test really matters. Is Land Rover right? Or are we? At the very least, I’m hoping to discover whether the all-new multi-link rear suspension improves the handling and ride, compared to the firm-but-fun Range Rover Evoque (with which it shares its front suspension), especially on these bumpy and twisty roads.
With the driver’s seat raised, my view is fine, although I’m conscious of the closeness of the top of the windscreen. The 2.2-litre SD4 engine feels eager to please but it’s not overtly sporty in nature.
The bright early morning sun is dazzling because, even with the sun visor down, there’s an inch-plus gap between the end of the visor and the A-pillar. The only way to avoid the glare is to lean back and hide behind the pillar.
I’m not liking the 235/55 R19 tyres’ fondness for following the contours in the tarmac and it’s taking me a while to get used to the electric power-assisted steering. Still, with 350 miles ahead of me, I have plenty of time to do that.
Disco, Evoque estate or Freelander 3?
The internal size and space is a vast improvement over both the Freelander 2’s and the Evoque’s cramped interiors, although it’s obviously not as capacious as a D4. And, trundling slowly off-road, the Disco Sport does give the impression of controlled progress that you expect from a Discovery, dealing with obstacles calmly and competently, just like its bigger brothers. But now I’m alone with it, tackling demanding roads in the Dales, it feels more like an Evoque estate to drive. Freelander 3?
What’s the ride like?
My initial reservations about the tramlining develop into a more general unhappiness with the ride quality as the miles add up. It’s not as comfortable as the Freelander 2
on-road, and can’t match Disco 4’s smoothness. After driving one off-road at Eastnor, I hoped that the well-controlled suspension would translate into a great on-road ride. But it hasn’t. Like the Evoque, the Disco Sport feels fidgety, jiggly and jolty. Rather than soaking up lumpy surfaces in true Disco style, the Sport flinches and bumps along.
On the viciously undulating road between Kettlewell and Middleham, it’s a real handful – even at sensible speeds. The main problem is its keenness to leap off the bigger crests. An air-sprung D4 would soak these up and remain far more ‘grounded’. I know, because I’ve driven the same road in one.
What about bends?
The handling impresses as much as the ride disappoints. By now I’m used to the steering, and the Disco Sport really begins to shine as it blasts along the fast sweepers towards Bainbridge in Wensleydale. The thought of losing grip is never remotely entertained.
I’m beginning to understand why the Disco Sport is the way it is, but in the pursuit of a sporty ride and handling, a degree of comfort has been sacrificed. For me, that’s enough to put me off lusting after one – especially at this price.
What's the point?
LRO’s Real World Test gives an independent, ‘real world’ fuel economy figure based on a varied and enjoyable 380-mile route, rather than sitting on a dyno.
It’s a big drive to do in one day, so we get up early and start by brimming the fuel tank at a garage on the A1 in Lincolnshire.
By doing the same at the end, it’s easy to get a precise ‘combined mpg’ figure – meaning a blend of motorways, fast A-roads, country roads, a couple of long greenlanes and a rush-hour city crawl. And, we find out more along the way!
Our test route
Bloody Oaks services, Stamford > A1 north Knaresborough > Arncliffe > Kettlewell > Middleham > Bainbridge > Stalling Busk (byway) > Hubberholme > Cam High Road (byway) > Wensleydale Creamery, Hawes > Settle > Silsden > Bradford > M62 east > Ferrybridge > A1 south > Bloody Oaks services, Stamford
Do you fancy driving our RWT route? Download a map here.
Take a look at our Land Rover Discovery's for sale