First Drive

2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport 2.0 TD4 150 E-Capability review

Entry-level Discovery Sport is pleasant to drive, and isn't short of performance, but the higher-powered auto model is still worth the extra if you can stretch to it

Words ByVicky Parrott

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This is the cheapest, and most efficient version of the new Land Rover Discovery Sport, complete with a 148bhp version of the new 2.0-litre diesel.

The 2.2 diesel that the Discovery Sport was launched with less than a year ago is no longer available, so today you’ve got the option of this model we’re testing here with its compulsory six-speed manual gearbox, or the 178bhp version of the same 2.0-litre diesel, which is available with the manual or a nine-speed automatic that we’ve already driven.

You also have to go for the higher-powered motor if you want seven seats, because this entry-level model has five seats only, but you do get lower C02 emissions (129g/km to 139g/km in the 178bhp version), and it costs Β£1700 less to buy.

Don’t be confused by the β€˜E-Capability’ badge; this version of the Disco Sport is not a hybrid and doesn’t ever run on electricity. The badge is Land Rover’s (slightly misleading) way of denoting its efficiency champions, which can also be identified by the blue β€˜Sport’ badge.

What’s the 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport 150 TD4 E-Capability like to drive?

Performance isn’t a problem, so you don’t need to worry about it feeling slow. The engine picks up smoothly from low revs and feels responsive enough through a broad rev range for easy progress in fast traffic.

What is less ideal is the vague clutch biting point, which can make smooth driving a bit tricky, although the gearshift itself is short and light, if not that precise. In some more open urban areas, it can also feel like you’re revving a fraction too high in third, but too low in fourth.

Otherwise, the Disco Sport 150 is just as good to drive as the higher-end models. Refinement is good, with the engine remaining hushed in anything but flat-out acceleration, leaving a rush of easily ignored tyre noise as the main background noise.

Vibrations are minimal, too, making this one of the most refined cars in the class, even next to rivals like the BMW X3. The Discovery Sport does fall short of the X3’s sharp cornering ability, but it’s still easy to place precisely thanks to well-weighted and fairly quick steering response, and plentiful front-end grip.

Ride comfort is a bit choppy around town, even on the 18in wheels you get with the E-Capability model. It’s not harsh, but it does fidget and bump about a bit, settling when you get out onto faster roads.

Off-road capability should be about the best in this class, thanks to the standard four-wheel drive and a Terrain Response system that allows you to select the best settings for the conditions. This model also has the same maximum 2.0-tonne towing capacity as the manual TD4 180 model.

What’s the 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport 150 TD4 E-Capability like inside?

Despite no third row of seats, the boot in the E-Capability is exactly the same size and shape as if you had the rearmost seats folded in the seven-seat model. That’s no bad thing, as it’s a good boot; well-shaped and big enough to take a large buggy without any problems, albeit narrower than the boot in a BMW X3.

However, if you don’t add the Β£150 optional space-saver or Β£350 full-size spare tyre, lifting the boot floor reveals a huge, bare metal, wheel-shaped cavity that feels like wasted space.

Otherwise, the E-Capability’s interior is just as worthy of praise as other Disco Sports. There’s plenty of room for two tall adults in the back seats, which slide for some added versatility, and the cabin up front is roomy, comfortable and feels well finished.

You can’t get this engine in the really top-end trims, which is fine, since we favour mid-range SE Tech anyway for the best balance of cost and comfort. A powered tailgate, generally user-friendly 8.0in sat-nav system, climate and cruise controls, auto lights and wipers, parking sensors, comprehensive safety features and part-leather seats mean you won’t need to add much in the way of options.

Should I buy one?

This is a composed and well-sorted SUV that offers good savings over our favourite version of the Disco Sport – the 180 auto. At Β£246 per month company car tax (for 40% taxpayers buying an SE Tech), it’s Β£51 cheaper than the 180 auto, while retail buyers opting for finance will pay Β£442 per month following a Β£5k deposit, undercutting the 180 auto at Β£506.

If you don’t mind the five-seat layout and manual gearbox, then the savings are sizeable enough to make this model worthwhile. However, this is a top-notch SUV that feels premium in every respect other than its moderately frustrating manual gearbox, and given that most buyers in this class aren’t looking to scrimp on costs, we’d say the more relaxing auto model is worth the extra.

What Car? says...

The rivals:

Audi Q5

BMW X3

Land Rover Discovery Sport 150 TD4 E-Capability SE

Engine size 2.0-litre diesel

Price from Β£30,695

Power 148bhp

Torque 280lb ft

0-60mph 11.0 seconds

Top speed 112mph

Fuel economy 57.7mpg

CO2 129g/km