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 make it up to outside-lane overtaking speeds. It doesn’t have you planting your foot to the floor in anguish, however. The P250, with 247bhp feels a fair bit brisker 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 (with 148bhp and the option of a manual ’box and front-wheel drive or an automatic and four-wheel drive) but the mid-range D180 engine (with 178bhp) is quite a bit slower than similarly powerful X3s and Q5s. That means you have to work the engine hard if you want to overtake briskly on a country road, however it’ll trundle up hills fully loaded quite happily, thanks to lots of low-down torque. The D240 diesel is certainly a lot quicker, bringing performance in line with the Q5 40 TDI and X3 20d, although we’d argue the D180 is adequate for family duties.
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. Thankfully 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 is very keen to return to the straight ahead position.
However, there’s plenty of grip and the car actually holds the road quite well. More to the point, you’ll find the steering is light enough to make urban manoeuvring and parking a breeze.
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 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 than the diesels, making for a more peaceful driving experience. Road roar is very well contained but you’ll hear more wind noise than in the X3 or Q5. Special mention should go to the Discovery Sport’s unobtrusive engine stop/start system.