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First Drive: Land Rover Discovery Sport

Martyn Collins finds adding a new platform brings welcome extra refinement and composed handling to the Discovery Sport formula.

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SECTOR Compact SUV   PRICE From £31,575   FUEL 42-47.8mpg   CO2 140-182g/km (NEDC Correlated)

It might not look it, but there’s more to the facelifted Discovery Sport than the usual mid life nip and tuck for the headlights and bumpers. Okay, so the body looks pretty much the same as the 2014 original, of which 160,000 found homes world wide, but the clever stuff is happening underneath.

Why? Well, like the Evoque before it, the Discovery Sport now sits on JLR’s all-new mixed material platform, called the Premium Transverse Architecture – mainly fitted to hybridise this model.

Going off-road? Interestingly, Land Rover’s off-road experts reckon the hybrid kit actually helps it, giving better balance.

Outside, the only facelifted Discovery Sport giveaways are its new lights, front and rear – both with their distinctive light signatures. Other less obvious changes are the new front grille, reshaped bumpers and wheel fitment changes, resulting in a more squat look than before.

There’s now also sportier, range-topping R-Dynamic models, with more obvious body changes including bespoke bumpers, a full exterior dechrome and colour-coding, plus the choice of up to 21-inch wheels.

The interior, previously a Discovery Sport weak point, because of the perceived quality, seems to have followed the Evoque in a move upmarket. This equals a larger 10-inch screen, the latest version of the Touch Pro Duo infotainment system, a raised centre console with stick shifter, less switches, improved quality materials, a new multi-function steering wheel and 25% more stowage than before.

Like the Evoque, the launch of the facelifted Discovery Sport also debuts clever new technology. Clearsight Groundview is the first and basically works by giving you a view through the bonnet, using cameras in the front grille and door mirrors. These cameras work together to project a view on the touchscreen of what’s underneath and in front of the Discovery Sport.

The other new system is the Clearsight Rear View Mirror. This where at the flick of a switch, the actual rear-view mirror transforms into an HD display which, via a camera in the roof fin aerial, gives an unobstructed rear view — even if the rear window is obscured by people or luggage!

The Discovery Sport is now offered with the choice of 150hp,180hp and 240hp versions of the Ingenium diesel engine, with the 150 offered with the choice of six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic. Or there’s the choice of 200hp and 250hp 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engines, all with automatic transmission.

All units, bar the 150 diesel, come with 48-volt mild hybrid tech. However, of more interest to fleets is the plug-in hybrid version due next year. The D150 manual is expected to be the most popular engine for fleet, with 44.9mpg fuel consumption (WLTP) and CO2 emissions of 140g/km (NEDC Correlated). This engine is also RDE2 emissions compliant, thus meaning it’s not subject to the usual 4% surcharge on BiK.

We drove the four-wheel drive version of the D180 in SE-specification, and the 200hp 2.0-litre petrol in R-Dynamic trim. The SE includes rear parking sensors, keyless go, two-zone climate control, Bluetooth and DAB. Much better to drive, the composed ride and handling, plus responsive steering stand out. The D180 is a willing performer too, although what impresses most is the refinement. The only time you’ll hear the Ingenium diesel engine is at idle, or when extended. As a result, the interior is pleasingly quiet. The 200hp Ingenium petrol might be faster, but is more vocal and thirstier.

The Verdict
New platform transforms the Discovery Sport, bringing welcome refinement. D150’s BiK reduction will attract fleet buyers.

The Lowdown
Key Fleet Model: D150
Strengths: Refinement, good to drive, practical
Weaknesses: Expensive, thirsty petrol models

FW Star Rating

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Martyn Collins

Martyn has 18 years experience as a motoring journalist, working across a wide selection of B2B and consumer titles. A car enthusiast since his early years, Martyn has a particular interest in the latest models and technology and in his spare time enjoys driving his own Minis.