Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
There are five engines available: two petrols and three diesels. Even the less-powerful P200 petrol (with 197bhp) offers plenty of poke and is easy to drive both at around-town speeds and on motorway journeys. It takes a little bit more revving to make it up to outside-lane overtaking speeds, but doesn’t have you planting your foot to the floor in anguish. The P250, with 247bhp, unsurprisingly offers more power, although neither petrol engines can match the low-rev pull offered by diesel Discovery Sports.
We haven’t tried the entry-level D150 diesel (with 148bhp and front-wheel drive) but the mid-range D180 engine (with 178bhp) feels a little weak; you have to work the engine hard if you want to overtake sharply on a country road and it’ll struggle if you want to take a carload of people and luggage up a steep incline. The D240 diesel is a better bet, and is noticeably stronger at low to medium revs, so it’s better suited to a large, family-friendly SUV – especially if you plan to do any towing.
Suspension and ride comfort
Things are a touch bumpy around town, especially if you’ve opted to have your Discovery Sport shod with super-sized 20 or 21in wheels. But even on the motorway, you’re jostled around more than in many large SUV rivals, and over undulating roads, the Discovery Sport wallows and pitches in a manner that might induce motion-sickness in some passengers. The smaller 18in or 19in wheels are much better suited for a more composed and tied-down ride.
For the best comfort in this class, we'd suggest looking at the Audi Q5 with optional air suspension fitted. Alternatively, at the cheaper end of the large SUV spectrum, many versions of the Peugeot 5008 smooth away bumps pretty well, too.
There is a noticeable amount of body lean when cornering in the Discovery Sport. As a result, it never feels as agile along twisting country roads as many rivals, including the Q5, BMW X3 and Jaguar F-Pace. You have to turn the wheel further than you would to tackle the same corner in those cars, and it doesn’t turn in quite as confidently as its rivals, either. Fortunately, though, the Discovery Sport has plenty of grip, actually holds the road quite well.
Noise and vibration
The diesel engines are lovely and hushed when cruising, but both 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 clatter. 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 are smoother and quieter overall and make for a more peaceful driving experience.
Both the Q5 and X3 are considerably quieter than the Discovery Sport in other respects, too. The Land Rover’s door mirrors whip up a fair bit of wind noise on the motorway and there’s more road noise to contend with.