Trouble has arrived for the hot-selling Audi Q5 and BMW X3 with the launch of the all-new Land Rover Discovery Sport. An all-new premium compact SUV, the Land Rover Discovery Sport provides the hallmark Land Rover capabilities, petrol or diesel engines, nice on-road dynamics, seating for seven, best-in-class interior space and is priced from just $53,300.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport replaces the smaller Freelander model and is the second member of the new Land Rover Discovery family. The ‘patriarch’ is the good-looking and versatile Discovery (dollar-for-dollar still one the best full-size premium SUVs money can buy). So the lineup is ‘Luxury’ (Range Rover), ‘Leisure’ (Discovery) and Dual-Purpose (Defender).
Discovery Sport sits on a modified version of the Range Rover Evoque platform (identical from the B-pillars forward) and is manufactured at the same plant at Halewood near Liverpool, England. Beautifully styled, overflowing with technology (including segment-first pedestrian airbag safety) and best-in-class technology the Land Rover Discovery Sport has raised the bar for premium compact SUVs.
Make no mistake – with the massive financial backing of parent company Tata, Jaguar Land Rover is back to its best and, with an expanding product portfolio across all of its brands, is one of the world’s ‘most-watched’ automotive groups. Expressive design and top-notch engineering underpin all of the company’s products – and that’s always a handy start.
As a result, unquestionably Jaguar Land Rover has some serious global momentum. Launch of the all-new Discovery Sport comes after an all-time record sales year in 2014 – 462,678 vehicles (like all premium brands lead by explosive growth in China) which represented year-on-year growth of 9.0 per-cent for both the Jaguar and Land Rover brands.
And how’s this for an impressive new model roll-out scheduled throughout 2015: the astonishing Range Rover Sport SVR (the fastest Range Rover so far, the first example of the ‘Special Vehicles’ models to arrive in Australia and arguably the very best SUV the world has seen), all-new Jaguar XE, all-new Jaguar XF and all-new Jaguar F-Pace (Jaguar’s historic first SUV).
Land Rover Discovery Sport Overview
At a smidge under 4590mm in length, the all-new Land Rover Discovery Sport is 239mm shorter than the Discovery but is certainly one of the larger premium compact SUVs and its maximizes this advantage with available seven-seat capacity and best in-class cargo capacity. It has an imposing on-road presence which stands-out against rival German products.
The Discovery Sport has arrived with a choice of two 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engines (TD4 or SD4) or a 2.0-litre petro, engine (Si4). And the usual Land Rover model nomenclatures (entry-level SE, mid-spec HSE and range-topping HSE Luxury (which adds items like ‘Windsor’ leather for the seats as opposed to ‘grained’ leather for the other models, xenon headlights and hard-drive navigation).
Amongst the options are seven alloy wheel designs and a contrasting roof colours like the Evoque and Range Rover models (in ‘Santorini Black’ or ‘Corris Grey’).
And for a sporty twist there’s a handy ‘Black Pack’ option which brings gloss black 19-inch or 20-inch alloy wheels and gloss-black for the grille, exterior mirrors and front fender vents.
The full lineup is:
|TD4 SE (man)||$53,300|
|TD4 SE (auto)||$55,800|
|SD4 SE (man)||$56,500|
|SD4 SE (auto)||$59,000|
|TD4 HSE (man)||$57,900|
|TD4 HSE (auto)||$60,400|
|Si4 SE (auto)||$59,000|
|SD4 HSE (man)||$61,100|
|SD4 HSE (auto)||$63,600|
|SD4 HSE Luxury (man)||$66,500|
|SD4 HSE Luxury (auto)|| $69,000
Land Rover Discovery Sport Engines
Perhaps a little surprising, the all-new Land Rover Discovery Sport has arrived with ‘carryover’ engines. We suspect this may change at the mid-life model upgrade – although of course that is a few years down the track.
So we have the TD4 turbo-diesel – 2.2-litres with 110kW at 4000rpm and 400Nm from 1750rpm.
Then there’s the SD2 turbo-diesel – also 2.2-litres but with 140kW at 4000rpm and 420Nm from 1750rpm.
And there’s the Si4 2.0-litre petrol engine offering 177kW at 5500rpm and 340Nm from 3200rpm.
All are all-wheel-drive and drive via either a six-speed manual transmission or a nine-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle-shifters. The auto has a low first gear to provide a handy crawl speed for off-road agility.
Land Rover Discovery Sport The Interior
The all-new Land Rover Discovery delivers an all-new look for the marquee which is both contemporary and versatile.
At the heart is a new central-mounted eight-inch colour touchscreen which is faster and features more intuitive controls (less finger pressure! and touch-and-drag operation). And there’s Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘In Control’ app for telephone connectivity and more apps are on the way.
Rake/reach adjustment for the modern leather-wrapped steering wheel and seat height adjustment provides a perfect driving position (usual raised SUV position). Those rearwards enjoy ‘Stadium Seating’ – the second row is 50mm higher than the front row and, when fitted, the third row is 20mm higher again.
The extra two seats are a $1,990 option but come with airvents and there are seven USB chargers in the Land Rover Discovery Sport – very on-trend.
The second row seat slides for cargo versatility so we have the best in-class capacity of 473-litres – 689-litres with the second row seats in-place or 1698-litres when folded.
Land Rover Discovery Sport Exterior And Styling
Jaguar Land Rover mounts a strong case for being the world-leaders for advancing light weight metallurgy in the automotive industry. It’s here again with the Discovery Sport – beautifully crafted aluminium for the bonnet, roof, tailgate and some suspension components and magnesium for the internal cross beam used to support the dashboard.
Crafting aluminium to provide the hallmark Land Rover/Range Rover ‘clam shell’ bonnet is no easy matter.
Other hallmark Land Rover design cues include the two-bar grille with hexagonal mesh, a new interpretation of the front fender vents with a horizontal blade graphic and the strong C-pillars.
That C-pillar combines with the distinctive step in the rising beltline and downward-tapering roofline to provide a powerful look.
Naturally aero and reduced wind noise were keys – noticeable in the external mirrors and A-pillar shapes (as well as the acoustic windscreen). So we have a Cd of just 0.36 and impressive quite even at high freeway speeds.
There are 12 exterior colours and seven wheel designs.
Land Rover Discovery Sport On The Road
Things couldn’t have worked-out better for Land Rover at the Discovery Sport’s media launch in Canberra. Our on-road and smooth dirt roads drive was held in fine conditions and during lunch torrential rain arrived making the afternoon serious off-road component ideal for exploiting the true Land Rover capability of the all-new model.
For the latter Land Rover Discovery Sport offers four settings for the push button Terrain Response system (‘General Driving’, ‘Grass/Gravel/Snow’, ‘Mud & Ruts’, ‘Sand’, as well as an updated Hill Descent Control system. And of course there’s then usual Land Rover best-in-class wading depth of 600mm and an optional wade sensing system which uses ultrasonic sensors in the exterior mirrors to determine how deep the water is and provides a visual display on the touchscreen.
Ahead of the 1 May commencement of sales, stock of the Land Rover Discovery Sport was tight so no petrol-engined models could be procured for the national press launch. Not to worry as Land Rover’s turbo-diesels offer plenty of performance and are nicely refined (in fact most Evoque customers are buying turbo-diesels).
Land Rover equips the Discovery Sport with a MacPherson strut front suspension with hydraulic rebound stops (to reduce ‘thumping’ on poor roads) and a multi-link independent rear end with integral coil spring (doesn’t need an upper link, freeing-up space for cargo and the ‘5+2’ seating). Over the roads outside Canberra it proved to be a good combination with noticeably less dive and body roll than we’re used to with other Land Rover models but still more refined and compliant than the taut/sporty Germans.
Our SE grade test car was equipped with the nine-speed automatic transmission and fuel-saving auto start/stop. As we’ve experienced with other nine-speeders, the highway drive was very relaxed but in the urban traffic environment you do get the occasional unexpected switch to a lower ratio when crawling along.
With an 11.6-metre turning circle and excellent standard reversing camera, the Land Rover Discovery Sport was s snack to operate in tight carparks. Like the Evoque, this is a Land Rover/Range Rover which is right at home in the school run.
Turning to the other extreme…off-road.
Ruts, steep inclines, washaways and creek crossings – the wet conditions in Canberra turned-on just about everything for our drive and, not surprisingly, the Land Rover Discovery Sport emerged smiling. Of course as any 4x4 enthusiast knows, ultimately these sorts of drives can become a tyre test and naturally the fleet of Land Rover Discovery Sport models for the press launch was fitted with the standard 18-inch and 19-inch rubber rather than heavy-duty serious off-road tyres.
That said, with our Terrain Response System alternating between ‘Grass/Gravel/Snow’ and ‘Mud & Ruts’ and aided by that adjustable variable speed (via the cruise control button) Hill Descent Control our Land Rover Discovery Sport conquered those tracks in the Brindabella Ranges with aplomb.
Land Rover Discovery Sport Issues
After this brief first-up acquaintance we’re not deducting points from the all-new Land Rover Discovery Sport on any front.
Land Rover Discovery Sport Verdict
We’ve enjoyed Jaguar Land Rover’s return to the ‘Big League’. A return lead by great design, the usual hallmark engineering and a remarkable upshift in quality.
Yep, the past is the past and now the British marque deserves to be on the same page as the Germans in every department. Of course that hasn’t come cheaply (£10 Billion in R&D and manufacturing facilities in the last five years alone) but Jaguar Land Rover has invested in the right things like advanced aluminium production.
The result has seen benchmark products like the Jaguar F-Type and before that the XF and XJ, the Evoque and of course the all-new Range Rover.
We’re confident in a few years we’ll be looking back at the launch of the Land Rover Discovery Sport as another benchmark.
There’s no doubt compact SUVs are where the action is currently in new cars and while Land Rover is a late arrival with its premium model…well it’s arrived bursting with the looks, technology and capability many predicted when we first saw the first concept.
And it’s arrived very sharply priced.
Land Rover Discovery Sport The Competition
There are a couple of Car Showroom favourites in this market segment which are justifiably selling in big numbers. They’re both from Germany but, it must be said, arrival of the Land Rover Discovery Sport suddenly makes them look a tad pricey.
Opening the batting is the Audi Q5. Quite simply the Q5 stakes a claim to being, dollar-for-dollar, one of the world’s best premium compact SUVs. And the rip-snorting SQ5 Quattro could be one of the best high-performance cars full-stop (but at $90,600 that’s a different story). The Q5 drives as you’d expect an Audi to but is not in the same league as the Discovery Sport when it comes to off-road prowess. Priced from $63,600 to $76,100 with a choice of turbocharged petrol or diesel engines, the Q5 offers Audi’s brilliant design inside and out but is overshadowed by the Discovery Sport for interior and cargo space.
And it’s the same story for the BMW X3. You’ll need $60,765 to $77,400 for the X3 which oozes BMW design and sporty driving dynamics.
Also in the mix is the Lexus NX – available in either turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol or 2.5-litre petrol hybrid models. We like the NX a lot (in fact we reckon the interior style could be the best in this segment) and while it doesn’t have the interior space of the Discovery Sport and not on the same page as an off-roader or trailer-tower, it is beautifully refined inside and a slick operator around town.