2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 150 SE Review
Isaac Bober’s 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 150 SE Review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The Discovery Sport replaced with the Freelander2 but is a more practical offering with its 5+2 option; it’s also better to drive.
2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 150 SE
Pricing From $56,595+ORC Warranty three-years, 100,000km Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Power 110kW at 3500rpm Torque 380Nm at 1750rpm Transmission nine-speed automatic only Drive all-wheel drive Dimensions 4599mm (L); 2173mm (W); 1724mm (H); 2741mm (WB) Ground Clearance 221mm (221mm front; 251mm rear for TD4 SE) Angles 23.4-degrees (A); 20-degrees (B); 31-degrees (D) Turning Circle 11.67m Weight 1884kg (5+2) Towing Capacity 2200kg (braked); 100kg (towball download) Spare space saver Fuel Tank 54 litres Thirst 5.3L/100km combined
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THE STORY OF THE Land Rover Discovery Sport is a well-known one. It replaced the Freelander2 and set the scene for the new-look Discovery launched in Australia earlier this year. While Practical Motoring has spent plenty of time in the Discovery Sport since its launch we’ve never had the chance to test one with the cost-optional 5+2 seating ($1990). Last week we got to remedy that and, over the weekend got to test out the comfort and practicality of all seven seats.
What is the Land Rover Discovery Sport?
The Discovery Sport is the entry into the Land Rover range and takes over where the Freelander2 left off. It adds family styling with its rounded edges and, now that we’ve seen the new Discovery, baby Discovery proportions. When it was first launched, there was talk the Discovery Sport might steal away buyers from the Range Rover Evqoue but that hasn’t occurred and, despite the design similarities and parts sharing these are two very different vehicles.
The compact SUV segment is where fighting is fiercest and the Discovery Sport is up against stiff competition from a range of different vehicles, including the Jaguar F-Pace, the Kia Sportage, Range Rover Evoque, Jeep Cherokee, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan X-trail, Volvo XC60, Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Mercedes-Benz GLC… even the Subaru Forester is in the same segment. In terms of pricing, though, our Discovery Sport TD4 SE tester is the cheapest of the ‘premium’ brands ($56,595+ORC) with the closest price rival being the new XC60 D4 Momentum at $59,990+ORC.
That said, almost none of the Discovery Sport’s competitors, except for the RR Evoque, are anywhere near as capable when the blacktop runs out, although I’m not so sure there are that many people buying these things for rock hopping.
In five- or seven-seat trim the Discovery Sport is a roomy medium SUV with permanent all-wheel drive and while it misses out on a low-range transfer case its Terrain Response system means it’s an incredibly capable vehicle. More capable than most buyers will ever need.
But, what Land Rover gives with one hand it takes away with the other and those looking at the Discovery Sport and hoping for a vehicle with an up to the moment infotainment system will be sorely disappointed. The small screen can be fiddly to use on the fly and while it has a reasonable number of features the lack of smartphone integration is frustrating… other luxury brands include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, like BMW and Audi, and their native systems are much better than the InControl infotainment system that Land Rover uses, so, why Land Rover and other brands like Toyota/Lexus persist with their native systems only is baffling.
Like other Land Rover product, the Discovery Sport features wraparound corners and bottom edges, meaning the bottom of the door runs right down under the door sill. This makes for a very big and heavy door (indeed my kids struggled a bit to open the door if we were on anything other than a flat surface) but it also means that when you climb out of the thing after travelling along a muddy road you won’t get stains on the back of your pants.
What’s the interior like?
Like that forward-angled C-pillar, the clean, straight lines and clearly labelled switchgear on the dashboard, offer updated hints of Freelander, but the design of the dashboard itself is clearly from the Evoque. There is very little hard, scratchy plastic inside the Discovery Sport with plenty of hard-wearing, sure, but either soft-touch or good quality plastics used, which is a must in the premium segment.
Unlike a lot of other SUVs that have bits and pieces of shiny plastic peppered throughout to show up greasy finger marks and dust, the Discovery Sport has been cut from a more understated and utilitarian cloth. Sure, there’s the odd smattering of gloss plastic on the inside, but it’s not used on touch points, indeed, all the dials are wrapped in soft-touch and grippy rubber which make them easy to see and use even in full sun.
The dashboard is well laid out, although, as mentioned the small touch screen infotainment unit is a miss in my opinion and nowhere near as clever as the systems you’ll get in this car’s competitors. There’s stacks of storage space in the front and the back, with door bins able to hold a 500ml water bottle, room for a couple of cups in the front, and phone storage. The glovebox is roomy and the centre console is deep if not particularly wide. There a stack of USB (four standard; six cost optional) and 12V outlets in the front and, in our test car, in the back too, along with door pillar mounted air vents and even air vents with fan speed control for those in the third-row.
The front seats are comfortable and, in typical Land Rover fashion, not overly bolstered. There’s plenty of adjustment both forwards, backwards and up and down with good adjustment on the steering wheel too. Vision right around the vehicle from the driver’s seat is good, although rearwards visibility is reduced a lot when the third-row seats are being used.
The back seats can be slid forwards and backwards with the backrest able to be tilted which makes fitting child seats a little easier. Unfortunately, the seats are 60:40 split but the 40 is on the road side which means those clambering into the back will be doing so from the road rather the footpath.
There’s plenty of room in the back for three adults and we even managed to fit three booster seats safely across the second row. The top tether anchor points are right down at the base of the seat backs which means you’re best off accessing them from the boot.
So, what about the occasional use third-row seats? Well, these when not being used fold flat into the floor and can be raised via two straps, meaning you can use one or both seats. It really is too tight in the back for an adult but this is only because there’s very little foot room. In terms of head and shoulder room there’s stacks of space and visibility out of the back is good too. Across the weekend, I had two nine-year-olds sat in the third row and three six-year olds in boosters in the row ahead of them; we slid the second-row forwards to give a little more legroom and the two boys in the back were very happy and didn’t complain once on an 80km drive. So, while the lack of legroom rules out use for adults, for kids that have grown out of a booster, there’ll be no issue.
But, with all three rows used the boot space is reduced to virtually nothing; we managed to fit two soft bags in there only but these needed to be squashed. Drop those third-row seats, though, and the boot is a gargantuan 829 litres with the seats slid all the way to the back; push them all the way to the front and the space grows to 981 litres. It’s worth noting you can’t get a full-size spare wheel (only a space saver), no matter how much you beg, if you also want the 5+2 seating arrangement; all other variants get a full-size spare.
One thing Mrs B notes was the speed with which the automatic rear door opens and this is only something you’re particularly interested in when carrying an armful of shopping to the car in the rain. Small things.
What’s it like on the road?
The Discovery Sport shouldn’t be mistaken for being sporty and, until now we’d only experienced more-power Discovery Sports, so it was good to drive the entry-level engine. This is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel Ingenium engine which replaced the old 2.2L T/D late last year. This engine makes 110kW and 380Nm of torque and runs the same 10.3 second 0-100km/h time as its predecessor but uses a combined 5.3L/100km compared to the old car’s 6.0L/100km. Slung off the back of this engine is a nine-speed transmission sending power to the wheels via permanent all-wheel drive.
We’ve already experienced this engine in plenty of other Land Rover product and it works well in the Discovery Sport and, even with every seat occupied there was more than enough grunt to keep up with traffic and flatten hills, overtaking was a cinch too. But, the nine-speed automatic transmission isn’t best matched to the engine, at least in this output.
Part of the problem is the transmission’s programming to run to the highest gear possible to reduce fuel consumption and while that’s generally fine, in some high-pressure situations like a twisting road up a hill where you’re getting on and off the throttle, the transmission can be caught out and end up hunting for the right gear. Indeed, we had one ‘moment’ with the thing where the transmission didn’t kick down as we slowed for a roundabout and, so, getting back on the throttle saw the thing struggle in too high a gear before it realised it needed to kick down. Personally, this engine would be a ripper if it was mated to a six-speed automatic transmission… sometimes, more of something, in this case, gears, is not always better.
Transmission moments aside, the Discovery Sport is a comfortable vehicle to drive or be driven in. The suspension errs on the side of comfort and only those travelling in the third-row will notice sharper hits given they’re sitting right on top of the rear axle; everyone else is kept insulated from the worst of the roads imperfections.
What about on a rough dirt road? As you would imagine, the Discovery Sport is good. My rough road loop isn’t a full-blown off-road torture test but it does include some decent washouts, an excellent set of moguls and some slick rock. The moguls are a great test for body control and build quality; they’ll reveal every little creak and despite a couple of laps, the Discovery Sport was quiet and comfortable. It was certainly a lot quieter than the Discovery we tested recently across the same set of moguls, that car had the rear seats rattling. That said, on the rear blind for the cost optional panoramic glass roof I did notice some of the material puckering as the blind withdrew.
The Discovery Sport isn’t intended to be as dynamic as its key competitors from Audi or BMW but it is intended to be more usable in more situations and it is. But that’s not damning it with faint praise, the Discovery Sport might be more comfortable than sporting, but it’s not half-bad when being pushed harder along a twisting road.
It’s worth noting that the Discovery Sport and Evoque are largely two different vehicles, sure, the mechanical bits at the front are shared, but from the b-pillar pack the Discovery Sport and Evoque are very different beasties. And, because I live in the country, I prefer the Discovery Sport.
What safety features does it get?
The Land Rover Discovery Sport gets a five-star ANCAP safety rating and a raft of active and passive safety systems. All variants get driver and passenger airbags, knee airbags, side curtain and thorax airbags, as well as a unique-in-segment pedestrian airbag. Autonomous Emergency Braking is also standard and operates 5-80km/h, but will “help to avoid collisions below 50km/h, while reducing the severity of an impact at speeds below 80km/h”.
The Discovery Sport also offers automatic high-beam assist, lane departure warning, trailer stability assist, blind spot monitoring, reversing camera and rear sensors (front parking sensors are a cost option), rain-sensing wipers and more.
So, what do we think?
The Discovery Sport is a practical and versatile family-oriented SUV that’s designed to get its feet dirty and not just provide a jacked-up ride height for city-dwellers. It sits slightly behind key competitors for on-road dynamics but it beats them when the bitumen runs out; it also wins the battle of the boots. But, there are elements, like the infotainment, that put it out of step with both key and cheaper rivals. Still, if you’re looking for a roomy and comfortable medium SUV that’ll tackle the school run as easily as a run out into the bush then the Discovery Sport should be on your shortlist, and I’d go so far as to suggest this engine variant is almost all the engine you’ll need.