The Land Rover Discovery Sport was close to the top of this category last year, but it was held back by a noisy engine with weak emissions. Now it’s back with the new Ingenium diesel, and it’s a class winner.
Whether it’s a better installation, or due to extra sound deadening, the Ingenium engine sounds more distant in the Land Rover than in either of the Jaguars tested this year. It’s unobtrusive when accelerating, and hushed at the legal limit.
Improved refinement hasn’t come at the expense of performance, thanks to the engine’s 317lb ft of torque. Accelerating from 30-60mph while towing a caravan weighing 85% of the Land Rover’s kerbweight took 13.9 seconds. There are several quicker cars in this weight division, but the Discovery Sport is comfortably fast enough for overtaking Sunday afternoon dawdlers or holding speed on hilly roads.
Stability at speed is superb, with the subjective impression of our test drivers backed up by hard data from the Al-Ko ATC system. Even travelling 10mph beyond the legal limit there was no drama. Deliberate sudden steering inputs failed to put the Land Rover off its stride, and the lane-change test was straightforward. Even on the third and fastest run through the test there was no sliding to speak of. As one of our judges wrote in their notes, the Discovery Sport has clearly inherited its big brother’s DNA.
As you’d expect of a 4×4 automatic with such a strong engine, the hill-start test was hardly a test at all. The Land Rover pulled to the top of the 1-in-6 slope with ease, and was untroubled when reversing up the far slope.
In everyday driving, the Discovery Sport is a very accomplished. The ride at low speeds may be firm, but it’s very controlled and increasingly supple as speeds rise. It handles well, too, cornering with precision and grip.
You have to admire the way Land Rover’s designers have found space for seven seats when many rivals only have room for five. The third row may be tight on space, but elsewhere there’s lots of room.
Our practicality judges found space for every item of holiday luggage so long as seats six and seven were folded into the floor, and the standard fitment of trailer stability control earned more points.
We think SE Tech is the sweet spot in the range for value (although the car we drove was a mechanically identical HSE Lux). What’s more, excellent resale values help make this Discovery Sport a sensible buy.
(Please note: the model pictured is HSE Lux spec.)