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Used test: Land Rover Discovery Sport vs Mercedes GLB

As three-year-old used buys, these premium, seven-seat SUVs are £10,000 cheaper than their new car prices. Which should you buy? We have the answer...

Land Rover Discovery Sport vs Mercedes GLB

The contenders

Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 AWD SE

List price when new £43,625
Price today £32,000*
Available from 2014-present

A 2019 refresh saw updated underpinnings and mild-hybrid tech added, improving the Discovery Sport's driving experience and efficiency

Mercedes GLB 220d 4Matic AMG Line Premium

List price when new £43,830
Price today £32,000*
Available from 2014-present

With a flashy interior and seven-seat practicality, the GLB appears to offer great value for money, but more so than its rival?

*Price today is based on a 2020 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

The Land Rover Discovery Sport and Mercedes GLB are like two kids at career day, each exclaiming that they want to be their parents when they grow up. You see, in many ways, these SUVs are shrunken versions of much larger ones – the Land Rover Discovery and Mercedes GLS respectively. 

As such, they've inherited some styling cues, inside and out, as well the ability to seat seven people. It just so happens that these mini-me versions have smaller frames, which means not only are they more affordable to buy and run, but they're also easier to drive around town.

Land Rover Discovery Sport front cornering

A compelling list of positives, we think you'd agree, and even more appealing on the used market. At three years old, these premium SUVs won't cost you much more than some new family cars would. 

Here we're going to find out if the Discovery Sport or GLB is the better buy. 


Performance, ride, handling, refinement

Both of these SUVs use 2.0-litre diesel engines, but the GLB’s produces more power and it’s pulling a much lighter car; the Discovery Sport weighs an extra 293kg, the equivalent of loading it up with four extra adult passengers. Unsurprisingly, then, the GLB is significantly swifter; it blasted from 0-60mph more than three seconds quicker at our test track, and in the real world, that extra grunt makes overtaking or getting up to motorways speeds much easier.

Mercedes GLB front cornering

The Discovery Sport’s performance isn’t helped by the fact that its eight-speed automatic gearbox can be slow to kick down. However, when you’re not asking it to drop several gears at once to facilitate a sudden burst of acceleration, it’s much more impressive, consistently selecting the right gear for the situation and doing so in a smooth manner. By contrast, the shifts of the GLB’s eight-speed auto ’box can be rather abrupt.

While we’re on the subject of refinement, the Discovery Sport’s engine is the gruffer of the two when you put your foot down, but you don’t feel much vibration through the pedals of either car, and both engines are near-silent once you’re up to speed. In fact, the Discovery Sport is the quieter motorway cruiser because it’s better than its rival at shutting out wind and road noise.

Land Rover Discovery Sport rear cornering

The GLB counters with better brakes, requiring around nine metres less than the Discovery Sport to come to a halt from 70mph (its lower weight no doubt helps). What’s more, it grips harder through bends and keeps body sway under tighter control.

That said, it’s not all one-way traffic when it comes to handling, because the Discovery Sport’s steering is just about spot on; it's slow and measured initially, so the car doesn’t feel nervous at speed, but then sharp and precise once you’re turning in to a bend. A lot more arm-twirling is required to get the GLB to change direction, although its steering also weights up with enough conviction to inspire driver confidence.

Mercedes GLB rear cornering

Instead, it’s the way the GLB rides that’s most likely to leave you disappointed. It jostles you around over uneven road surfaces and tends to really thump over potholes, whereas the Discovery Sport is very comfortable, aside from a bit of float over big undulations.

Next: What are they like inside? >>

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