Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
There are five engines available: two petrols and three diesels. Even the cheaper petrol (badged P200) has 197bhp, so offers plenty of poke, although it takes some revving to take it up to outside-lane overtaking speeds quickly. It doesn’t have you planting your foot to the floor in anguish, however, and 0-62mph takes 8.6sec. The P250, with 247bhp feels a fair bit brisker and will pull off 0-62mph in 7.3sec, although neither of the petrol engines can match the low-rev pull offered by diesel Discovery Sports.
We haven’t tried the entry-level D150 diesel (it has 148bhp and the option of either a manual ’box and front-wheel drive or an automatic and four-wheel drive) but the mid-range D180 engine (with 178bhp) is the best all-round engine in the range. Yes, it's quite a bit slower than similarly powerful X3s and Q5s, but thanks to lots of low-down torque it's fine when you're just ambling around and it’ll trundle up hills fully loaded quite happily. You just need to leave a good distance when overtaking on a country road.
The D240 diesel is certainly a lot quicker, bringing performance in line with the Q5 40 TDI and X3 20d, but we’d argue the D180 is quite adequate for family duties.
Suspension and ride comfort
Things are a touch bumpy around town if you’ve opted to have your Discovery Sport shod with super-sized 20 or 21in wheels. Thankfully, the smaller 18 or 19in wheels help take the edge off, but regardless of wheel size, on the motorway the Discovery Sport has a relaxed gait that makes mile-munching a delight. Things aren't so good over undulating roads; the Discovery Sport floats and wallows more than the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, but it never feels out of control or like it’ll make passengers vomit.
There is a noticeable amount of body lean when cornering in the Discovery Sport, which means it isn’t as keen to scythe through an S bend as the Q5 or X3 and never feels as agile along twisting country roads as the Jaguar F-Pace. The steering is a little too quick, given the car's ponderous nature, and can feel too keen to return to its straight ahead position to feel completely natural. The Q5's steering has a more linear and intuitive action.
On the plus side, the Discovery Sport's steering is light around town and there's plenty of grip and road holding capability beyond urban confines for most drivers. What it lacks in on-the-road handling is more than made up for by its great towing abilities (for a vehicle of its size and weight) and it's the best car in the class if you want to go off road.
Noise and vibration
The diesel engines are lovely and hushed when cruising, but all three make their presence known when you’re getting up to speed; you'll feel some vibration through the controls and hear a degree of diesel rumble. For the most refined diesel engines in the class, try the excellent Q5 40 TDI or X3 20d.
Similarly, the petrol engines don’t make themselves known until you rev them harder, but they are smoother and quieter overall than the diesels, making for a more peaceful driving experience. Road roar is very well contained but you’ll hear more wind noise than you would in the X3 or Q5. A special mention should go to the Discovery Sport’s unobtrusive engine stop/start system, which is super slick.
Low CO2 emissions and relatively roomy, but rivals are quieter...
The Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace has all the positive traits of...
Old-school inside and out, but not in a good way. Unless you’l...
A well-equipped, comfortable and practical large SUV, but pric...