Land Rover Discovery Sport 4x4 performance
The cheapest and most efficient Discovery Sport comes with a 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine, badged E-Capability. It’s offered with a choice of two or four-wheel drive, but no automatic gearbox or seven-seat option.
Even if that combination works for you, the E-Capability’s lacklustre performance leaves a lot to be desired. We’d opt for the 178bhp version of the same engine instead. You can have this with a six-speed manual gearbox or, better still, the more fitting nine-speed automatic.
While the auto can prove a bit slow to respond off the line and during kickdown, with nine gears to the manual’s six it makes better use of the engine’s extra low and mid-range power. That makes for usable everyday performance, but it’s not quick and is certainly no match for an Audi Q5 2.0 TDI 190 or BMW X3 20d in straight-line pace.
To keep up with those, you need to move up to the 237bhp 2.0-litre diesel. This comes with the auto 'box as standard and whisks the Discovery Sport from 0-60mph in just 7.1sec, giving you a nice turn of speed and edging it just ahead of those aforementioned rivals. However, while it is much livelier, after factoring in running costs we’d still stick with the 178bhp diesel, unless that extra oomph really counts for you.
Finally, there are the two 2.0-litre petrols, with either 237bhp or 286bhp, and both are automatic. While they are unlikely to be most people’s first choice, they do offer brisk performance at the expense of pretty hefty fuel economy.
If you tow a caravan or trailer, the 178bhp and 237bhp diesels will pull 2.2 tonnes, while the vast majority of Discovery Sports will pull 2.0 tonnes.
Land Rover Discovery Sport 4x4 ride
The Discovery Sport deals with speed bumps well and rides smoothly at higher speeds, especially on the motorway. Clever adaptive dampers (called Adaptive Dynamics) are available as an option, but there's really no need to bother spending the extra.
Things can get a touch bumpy around town, though. Expansion joints and worn surfaces unsettle the suspension a little – a problem that is exacerbated by fitting alloys larger than the 18in rims that come as standard with SE and SE Tech trims. The 20in wheels are certainly best avoided.
For the best comfort in this class, we'd suggest looking at the Q5 with optional air suspension fitted or, at the cheaper end of the spectrum, the Peugeot 5008 smooths away bumps pretty well, too.
Land Rover Discovery Sport 4x4 handling
There is a fair amount of body lean when cornering in the Discovery Sport. As a result, it feels a bit sloppy along twisting, country roads compared with an Q5, X3 or Jaguar F-Pace. Fortunately, though, the Discovery Sport has plenty of grip, so it does actually hold the road well. And with reassuringly precise steering, it gives you plenty of confidence and control.
All four-wheel-drive models come with Terrain Response, a system that allows the driver to select from a variety of drive modes tailored to different surfaces, such as grass, mud and sand. It means the Discovery Sport is better off road than just about anything else in this price bracket.
Land Rover Discovery Sport 4x4 refinement
The 2.0-litre diesel engines are reasonably hushed at speed but far from the class best under acceleration, when you feel some vibration through the controls and hear a degree of diesel clatter. For the slickest motors in the class, try the excellent Q5 2.0 TDI 190 or X3 20d, which isn't far behind the Audi for manners.
Both the Q5 and X3 are considerably quieter than the Discovery Sport in other respects, too. Its door mirrors whip up a lot more wind noise on the motorway and there’s more road noise to contend with as well, although neither issue could be defined as unruly.
Meanwhile, the nine-speed automatic gearbox is so smooth that most shifts go unnoticed. It’s often hesitant when you’re pulling away from a standstill or onto roundabouts, though – something that isn't ideal. The manual gearshift isn't bad, but the auto 'box is much better suited to the Discovery Sport’s laid-back driving character.