All new for 2016 is the Land Rover Discovery Sport, which closes the books on the LR2 model, a move that was a bit overdue for those lovable Brits. The outgoing model wasn’t bad at all as it did what was expected of it. It’s more a matter of it not entirely fitting in with the sleek-shelled competitors that drivers seem to gravitate towards in today’s modern market.
Simply put, it was too tall and awkward for it to remain part of the lineup.
The Discovery Sport now fits in with the Land Rover family design-wise and is an obvious cousin of the good looking Evoque, with broader lines throughout and is a great representation of Land Rover’s entry level.
On the design side, which is what most will notice, there are 18” wheels on the base SE model that look great and fill out the wheel wells nicely. The mid-level HSE and top of the line HSE Luxury come with 19” wheels, with 20” wheels as an available upgrade.
The smooth and flowing design lines stand out beautifully, and there’s just enough of an athletic-esque stance to the Discovery that gives it an overall great look. An available Black Trim pack adds glossy surfaces to the grille, mirror caps, badging, roof, and different styled wheels, if you’re into that. Overall, I’m quite happy with the updated aerodynamic styling that still says “I’m an SUV” but brings its style game to the table.
The power plant beneath the hood is a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 240 horsepower and 250 lb-ft. of torque through a nine-speed automatic transmission, complete with paddle shifters that allow you to start in second gear for a smoother lift off if desired. The drive quality is smooth, handling is strong and there’s plenty of responsiveness from the steering.
No, it’s not the fastest in the segment but that’s not what the Discovery aims for. Instead, it does a terrific job of being the off-road leader, mainly due to the tarmac/gravel/sand/snow drive selectors.
I took the Discovery from Mississauga to Collingwood at night to see a friend and the GPS system led me through the back roads of Collingwood where I got a feel for how versatile this vehicle truly is. The ability to raise the height of the Discovery to match these rugged conditions made it an enjoyable drive, even if it did add about 30 minutes to my destination.
Eco mode is a good choice if you’re trudging along in city traffic and you don’t need the full responsiveness of this luxury crossover.
I did about 700km of city and highway driving and about 40km of the aforementioned off-road driving, and while it’s a touch slower off the line, know that the nine speeds will give you great mileage and there’s plenty of passing power.
Fuel efficiency clocks in at 11.9/9.0/10.6 city, highway, combined for L/100km and you can tow up to 4,409 lbs. The auto start/stop standard feature will help reduce those figures in stop/go situations. And yes, you’ll need to collect extra reward points by filling up on premium fuel.
Inside sees a clean, simple design that’s centred by an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that has push button starter and a five-inch TFT Driver information Centre that’s flanked by the speedometer and tachometer.
The collapsing/rising cylindrical gear shift takes up a bit too much room for my liking and while its location is centred, shifting it slightly closer to the driver could allow for a couple of other buttons to be included, or added space in the front cubby holder.
The 10-way, Windsor leather front power seats in my HSE Luxury tester were incredibly comfortable and I found my ideal seating position easily. For ticking the top of the line box, you’ll get an upgraded audio system giving you 11 speakers and a booming 250W of sound.
A combination of dials and buttons control the climate and while I love that huge panoramic sunroof, I’m not happy that it’s fixed. Give me a regular sized roof that tilts/opens please and thank you.
Rear seating is surprisingly comfortable, and in Land Rover's own words, “the optional 5+2 third row means you can seat two children comfortably in the back.”
At least they didn’t make me say it. Full marks for versatility, but I doubt there will be many folks that opt for it.
A cool factor is that on the HSE Luxury trim, you can change the interior lighting colours, the tread plates are illuminated and there are front/rear parking aids with a rear view camera.
Tech-wise, you can opt to get parallel/perpendicular park assist, surround camera assist (360 degrees), reverse traffic detection, Blind Spot Monitoring and traffic sign recognition.
One of these days, this suite of safety features will come standard on all vehicles but until then, they’re purchased add-ons.
Storage space behind row two measures a whopping 813 litres and, according to their website, the Discovery with the rear seats folded “gives a cargo floor that is as long as a Range Rover.”
Well then. Well then indeed.
Overall, the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is a huge step forward for the company and gives buyers a good looking option that’s got strong off-road capabilities and is presented well in the luxury crossover market.
Don’t let the fuel efficient engine that’s not as powerful as others deter you; the higher torque is plenty to get you moving and unless you’re using this on a racing track, you’ll be just fine in nearly any situation where you need to punch the engine.
Starting at close to $42K for the SE, close to $47K for HSE and a touch over $50K for the HSE Luxury, there’s plenty of bang for your buck, even on the SE trim.
If you’re in the market for a smaller luxury crossover, take the new Discovery out for a spin and see for yourself all the forward progress Land Rover has made with this vehicle.
Enjoy the full gallery below: