It doesn’t appear that Land Rover has done much to the “new” Discovery Sport, but don’t let those familiar looks deceive you. The car has had quite an overhaul.
The visual appeal of Land Rover’s family-friendly SUV has never been called into question. Therefore, the big changes have been applied under the skin with the existing body remaining largely unchanged.
A new platform, shared with the Evoque, increases stiffness by 10% while also making way for new 48v mild hybrid technology.
The interior has also been given an upgrade, gaining higher-quality materials and improved controls and instruments.
For fleets there’s an entry-level front-wheel drive version with an RDE2-compliant diesel engine called the D150. It is the most frugal, emitting 140g/km, with a manual gearbox.
Next year, a plug-in hybrid model with a three-cylinder petrol engine will join the line-up with more power and better efficiency but, until then, we’ll have to make do with the petrol and diesel offering.
The D180 packs more punch and comes with four-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic. It’s not RDE2-compliant though, but manages 147g/km thanks to that mild-hybrid system.
Rounding off the diesel offering is the D240. It does a much better job of hauling the Discovery Sport’s weight, but high CO2 emissions of 163g/km make it an uneconomical fleet choice.
It’s the same story with the P200 and P250 petrols. While they are smooth and quiet, the company car tax proposition is poor. The plug-in hybrid couldn’t come soon enough, it seems.
Unlike most SUVs, the Discovery Sport is a proper off-roader. It can climb, wade and negotiate obstacles that most SUVs in this segment could only dream of.
The car’s off-road capability does hamper its efficiency though, even with a clever four-wheel drive system able to detach the rear axle when extra traction isn’t needed to minimise fuel burn.
While most drivers are unlikely to ever put these abilities to the test, the car has a feeling of robustness that other vehicles cannot offer.
The improvements are immediately noticeable from behind the wheel.
Not only does the new dashboard take the car a step closer to its bigger brother, the Disco Sport is now quieter, smoother and more agile thanks to its new underpinnings.
Prices start at a reasonable £31,310, although climb rapidly north of £40k if you want decent spec, an automatic, four-wheel drive or more power.
S models (from £34,160) get heated leather, sat-nav and LED headlights. There are also SE and HSE trims that provide more equipment. R-Dynamic models (from £41,500) have a sportier look, but are only available with all-wheel drive.
The Discovery Sport has always been a popular model among user-choosers and this round of updates only elevate its desirability. Its high CO2 emissions – while not outrageous for the segment – might hamper its chances of appearing on choice lists though, at least until the PHEV arrives.
Specification shown for Land Rover Discovery Sport D150 SE manual