Driving the Discovery Sport for a few hundred kilometres
It definitely sounds weird to start the Land Rover Discovery Sport review from its closing note, but that is exactly what we are going to do here! The reason for this strange decision from our end is obviously that the car in question here is not one that few know of!
The Discovery Sport has been around since 2015, when it was first introduced as a replacement for the then-popular Freelander 2. The Land Rover Discovery Sport had undergone a significant transformation in 2018, into what we see here today.
What makes this Discovery Sport HSE stand out from its siblings is the 2.0L Ingenium petrol engine on offer. This is a tuned-down version of what we had seen previously on the Velar. The rising governmental concerns on the environmental hazards caused by ‘large displacing diesel engines’ might be seen ranking among the top 5 reasons for Land Rover to go for such a heart transplant recently. The diminishing margin between the petrol price in India and that of diesel should only have made things smoother for the debut of the Discovery Sport HSE Petrol here.
What Does It Look Like?
Well, essentially like the Discovery Sport that it replaces! The shape seems as familiar as it actually is! The brawn features all those familiar angular and chiselled peripheries and rounded cues, imparting an equally imposing stance as the car it had replaced. Despite these, there is no question of the Discovery Sport facelift not looking rugged or conventional. Fair enough…
The LED DRL equipped Xenon headlamps stand in full glory on either side of the slotted two-slat grille and are automatic as well. The top-of-the-line Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE misses out on front fog lamps and has a set of air-scoop-looking fog lamp housings, which of course are not air scoops at all!
What you would get to notice first in the profile would be the approach, ramp and departure angles absolutely befitting for a rugged offroader SUV, the values being 25°, 21° and 31° respectively. The blackened roof adds more glory to the HSE trim and the C pillar looks as thick and solid as it actually is. The 18-inch five dual-spoke alloy wheels have a magnificent design. The Discovery Sport has a humongous obstacle clearance of 212 mm!
The rear has always had mixed reactions from the public. For us, it seems quite decent and appealing with those LED tail lamps, twin exhaust pipes and the prominent skid plate.
What Is It Like To Be Inside One?
There is nothing so flashy about Discovery Sport interior. Finished in shades of beige and black with meek touches of brushed metal finishes around, it looks pretty simple and rugged, totally befitting for an SUV of this kind. There is all major equipment that one would expect from this segment, on offer. Being an entry-level Land Rover, there is quite generous use of plastics in the cabin, which thankfully, are not hard and cheap ones! Tilt and telescopic adjustments of the steering wheel, which feels chunky and great to hold for sure, can be done manually.
The central console is well laid out and the controls for the dual-zone climate control and the Terrain Response system, which we would be talking in detail soon, seem to offer the least confusion to the driver. There are a number of small pockets and storage spaces on the centre tunnel, that also houses the circular dial-shaped gear knob ( a familiar bit on Jaguar cars) and the electronic parking brake.
An 8.0-inch touchscreen forms the base of the much-applauded Land Rover Discovery Sport infotainment system. The User Interface (UI) is pretty smooth and responsive and encompasses a multitude of functionalities like navigation, radio, InControl(Smartphone connectivity), WiFi hotspot etc. But it is also to be said that one would take a bit of time getting used to this system. Also, this system misses out on modern-day connectivities like Apple Car Play and Android Auto.
The 380W Meridian Sound System with 11 speakers spread across the cabin of the Discovery Sport HSE petrol, offers supreme sound quality and audio experience.
The front seats are 10-way power-adjustable and without a memory function on the Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE petrol, however, the diesel-powered Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE Luxury has on board, a set of 12-way power-adjustable front seats with memory function.
As for the ergonomics and practicality, almost every bit on the Land seems to be so laid out as to suit the convenience of the driver, except for the power window controls, which appeared to be too strangely placed for us. We would have liked them way closer and in better reach any day.
The middle bench on the Discovery Sport is a comfortable place to be in, and can be folded in the 60:40 fashion and can be slid and reclined as well. There is even a centre headrest on this row. The centre tunnel at the rear isn’t too meek, but even with that being said, a person of average height would not find it too uncomfortable to be there. There is a fair share of legroom and headroom on offer here.
Land Rover has given the Discovery Sport 7 seats on all trims except the Discovery Sport PURE variant, and we found the third row on our test car a decent place for toddlers. However, adults or youngsters would have a tough time being there due to the cramped leg and head rooms. The third row can also be folded flat to arrange for a massive 981 litres of boot space. However, it should also be said here that the third row comes at the cost of a full-size spare wheel, as the one on offer here is a reduced section 18 incher.
Impressed by these already, but feeling a bit claustrophobic? Well then the Discovery Sport HSE hosts a full-size panoramic sunroof, the blinds of which can be opened with the press of a button (The glass roof as such, cannot be opened though!)
Talking about the Discovery Sport specification, the 2018 model is available in two engine options- the familiar 2.0L Ingenium Diesel and an all-new 2.0L turbocharged (single twin-scroll) Ingenium petrol. Our test car, as mentioned before had the Ingenium heart. This mill, displacing 1997 cubic centimetres, lets out a healthy 238 hp (5000-6000 rpm) and 340Nm (1500-4500 rpm). There is a bit of clatter and vibration seeping into the cabin, at least at times.
It doesn’t feel like a 2.0 L mill moving a 2.0-tonne mammoth once you get going. Torque comes in early and the vehicle gains speed with ease. Three digits speed comes in as early as in 7.9 seconds and the car has 204 km/h as the top speed.
The engine comes mated to a 9-speed ZF automatic transmission that is super smooth and efficient. The shifts are quite responsive to relaxed throttle inputs but things do get a bit ill-looking with a hard foot on the gas. Thus we won’t call this box the best for highways. There are, however, paddle shifters for smarter shifting on the go.
The suspension has been tuned to offer maximum possible ride comfort and stability, and it actually does as well. However, the high set centre of gravity definitely has its casts on the car in the form of slight roll and pitch on harsh steering inputs, both of which are well taken care of by the suspension. The manufacturer has, to some extent, succeeded in giving the Discovery Sport decent handling. The Electronic Power Steering feels well weighted for the city and highway runs alike. The brakes do a wonderful job and have ample bite on offer.
The Ingenium petrol engine might not be your favourite if you are too economy-conscious. The highest figure we could manage to get on our test car was around 11.5 kmpl, out on the highways. Some moments in the city hustle even saw the Discovery Sport mileage drop to figures as low as 6 kmpl!
What Is It Like To Take It To The Terrains?
Taking your Land Rover off road is always something worth spending time on. Every Land Rover lets us explore the unexplored and see the unseen, by tackling almost every terrain coming its way. Thus we decided to take our baby Land Rover Discovery off-road, to see if it holds the true LR genes inside.
As said before, the Discovery Sport has the approach, departure and ramp angles of hardcore off-road vehicles. This, combined with the 212 mm obstacle clearance and 600mm wading depth, ranks it among the best go-anywhere SUV offerings around.
There are a number of off-road-specific technologies on offer on the Discovery Sport, for making your trail smooth. The Land Rover Discovery terrain response system does the job as the drivers favourite assistant by optimizing the vehicle settings for each terrain so that the driver doesn’t have to play with the gears or the throttle. The Terrain Response system has a mode each for almost all the terrain conditions one might ever require, like mud/ruts, grass/gravel/snow and sand, in addition to the general driving setting.
The next major tech to be mentioned is the ATPC (All-Terrain Progress Control), which is basically a cruise control for terrains, that lets the car climb challenging terrains at a constant set speed, so that the driver may no longer have to focus on the throttle and gears, and can just concentrate on the steering. There are also stuff like Gradient Release Control (GDC), Roll Stability Control (RSC) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) onboard the Discovery Sport. The infotainment screen also shows off-road specific information like inclination and tyre position, which can be of great use in such situations.
So what is the Discovery Sport price in India? Well, the car goes on sale at Rs. 55.85 lakhs! Thus the Discovery Sport HSE petrol definitely ranks among the top 10 best SUV cars in India, one could buy in 2019 for its price.
Test Vehicle Provided By: Land Rover India