The cheapest and most efficient Discovery Sport comes with a 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine. It’s badged E-Capability and has four-wheel drive, but you can’t have an automatic gearbox or seven seats – even if you’re prepared to pay extra.
The performance of this model also leaves a lot to be desired, so we’d opt for the stronger 178bhp version. You can have this with a six-speed manual gearbox or, for a bit extra, the more appropriate nine-speed automatic. Straight-line performance is still pretty poor compared with, say, an Audi Q5 or a BMW X3, but there’s enough urgency from low revs.
All models have active four-wheel drive, a system that, in slippery conditions, sends power to the wheel with the most traction. And even the 148bhp model can tow two tonnes.
Land Rover Discovery Sport ride comfort
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 in the Discovery Sport, 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. 20in wheels are certainly best avoided.
Land Rover Discovery Sport handling
There is a fair amount of body lean when cornering in the Land Rover Discovery Sport. As a result, it feels a bit sloppy along twisting, country roads compared with an Audi Q5 or a Jaguar F-Pace. Fortunately, though, the Sport holds the road well and has reassuringly precise steering, so you always feel confident and in control.
All models come with Terrain Response, a system that allows the driver to select from a variety of four-wheel drive modes tailored to different surfaces, such as grass, mud and sand. It means the Sport is better off-road than just about anything else in this price bracket.
Land Rover Discovery Sport refinement
Both 2.0-litre diesel engines are reasonably refined; you feel some vibration through the controls but there's less diesel clatter than you’d hear in a BMW X3. Mind you, the 2.0-litre diesel in the Audi Q5 is considerably quieter. The door mirrors whip up some wind noise on the motorway, and there’s a bit of road noise, but only the Audi Q5 is noticeably quieter at speed.
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, though, or onto roundabouts, which isn't ideal. The manual gearshift isn't bad, but the auto 'box is much better suited to the Sport’s laid-back driving character.
This is the most efficient engine in the Discovery Sport and that makes it particularly attractive to company car drivers. However, performance is sluggish and there’s no automatic gearbox option. You can’t have seven seats, either.
Our pick 2.0 TD4 180
This engine has four-wheel drive as standard, and is available with the standard six-speed manual gearbox or optional nine-speed automatic. We’d recommend the latter. Performance isn’t exactly great, but it’s just about acceptable – even with bums on all seven seats.