What's the used Land Rover Discovery Sport 4x4 like?
Time was, if you wanted a seven-seat SUV, you had to make do with something big, heavy and unwieldy. But the Land Rover Discovery Sport, which arrived in 2014, manages to cram additional seating into a body that’s more compact than a regular Discovery, with the benefit that it's much easier to park.
The Discovery Sport was, in fact, the replacement for the highly popular Freelander, sharing a lot of its underpinnings with the first-generation Evoque, and remaining a very popular model, throughout its life. A heavily updated version arrived in 2019 with changes to the interior and infotainment system, and most models got mild-hybrid technology, too.
The range of engines it offers is confusing, though. To begin with, it was diesel-only and came with a carry-over 187bhp 2.2-litre from the old Freelander. Then the 2.0-litre Ingenium engine it was supposed to get arrived in 2015 in 148bhp eD4, 178bhp TD4 and 237bhp SD4 forms. Then the world went off diesels, so two petrol engines in 237bhp and 287bhp forms were hastily added in 2018 to appease customers.
Post-facelift cars from late 2019 offered mild hybrid tech on most engines in a bid to improve economy, along with different badging and some altered power ratings. Three versions of the 2.0-litre petrol were offered: the 198bhp P200, the 248bhp P250 and 287bhp P290. There were also three 2.0-litre diesels: the 148bhp D150, 178bhp D180 and 237bhp D240, or at least that was the case until 2020. In that year, the most and least powerful options were revised again, becoming the 163bhp D165 and 204bhp D200. But that's not all; a 305bhp P300e plug-in hybrid also joined the range around the same time.
It doesn't get much less confusing differentiating between the trim levels. The range kicks off with the Pure, which gives you cruise control, rear parking sensors and a DAB radio. Upgrade to SE and you get heated front seats, a heated windscreen and dual-zone climate control. For sat-nav, you’ll need SE Technology, which also provides front parking sensors and a powered tailgate. One notch up again is the HSE, which gives you a good slug of equipment, including full leather upholstery, a panoramic roof, a rear-view camera, an upgraded sound system and keyless entry.
Further up the range sit three versions based on the HSE. HSE Black gives you an array of black styling addenda; HSE Luxury adds a host of extra toys like heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel and air conditioning for the rearmost row of seats; and top-of-the-range HSE Dynamic Luxury gives you all those toys plus sportier styling.
On the post-facelift cars, you have to choose whether to go for the regular Discovery Sport or the R-Dynamic version; the latter simply adds sportier styling touches to the exterior. The new trim levels were standard, S, SE, HSE, R-Dynamic S, R-Dynamic SE and R-Dynamic HSE.
On the road, we’d recommend avoiding Discovery Sports fitted with larger wheels; around town, the car's ride is a bit jittery anyway, and with anything larger than 18in wheels the suspension picks up expansion joints and potholes even more noticeably. That said, larger bumps are dealt with well, and once you’re up to speed on a long journey, the ride smoothes out admirably, meaning you probably won’t need to go to the hassle of trying to find an example fitted with the optional adaptive suspension.
You feel the softness of the suspension when you tip the Discovery Sport into a corner, though; it has a propensity to lean over, so it never feels as crisp as some of its more firmly-sprung rivals. Throw in the fact that the most popular diesel engines – the 148bhp and 178bhp versions – are decidedly lethargic, and it’s clear that this isn’t a car for the sportier driver. Still, it isn’t all bad – with direct steering and plentiful grip the Discovery Sport feels secure and connected to the road all the time, so, as long as you’re not feeling racy, you should at least feel reassured.
You can, of course, upgrade to one of the other more powerful engines on offer, but, while all of these offer more than enough shove to keep you happy, they’re also thirsty. We’d go for the nine-speed automatic gearbox over the six-speed manual, too, because it suits the Discovery Sport’s character and will make the car easier to sell on.
As far as interior goes, there’s a true sense of quality to all the fixtures and fittings; especially pleasing, too, is the way all the major controls are clearly and logically laid out. The infotainment system is less of a success, mind you – it can be a bit of a fiddle to use.
In terms of passenger accommodation, ‘cram’ is the operative word where the rearmost seats are concerned; they aren’t as spacious as you’ll find in a larger SUV or even a similarly sized MPV. In fact, in the Discovery Sport, the third row is only really suitable for children. If space is a priority, you might be better off with the Skoda Kodiaq or Peugeot 5008, which are more spacious inside. Don’t forget, too, that that extra row of seats is optional on the Discovery Sport, so you’ll need to look for one with it fitted; by contrast, it’s standard on the 5008.
The boot’s a decent size, though, especially when the rearmost seats are folded down into the floor, while passengers in the front and middle rows will find plenty of space.
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