By Wayne Gorrett
First published in Beautiful South Magazine
No sizzle required!
My first drive of the Land Rover Discovery Sport was at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire nearly a year ago. Now, having recently enjoyed a week with OE15 ZTS – a fine example of the top-spec ‘HSE Luxury’ automatic – I am much more impressed.
Billed as a replacement for the pensionable Freelander2, the Discovery Sport is the first member of what will be a new, three-model Discovery family.
Designed and engineered at the Land Rover Development Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire, the Discovery Sport is manufactured at the company’s Halewood plant in Liverpool. It went on sale in early 2015 and sits alongside the current Discovery.
In mid-2015, Jaguar Land Rover’s new £255m UK engine plant came online and the all-new 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel, designed and manufactured there, has since blessed all subsequent production of the Discovery Sport.
Local buyers get the oil burner as it’s the only engine offered on the UK-spec Discovery Sport range. It’s available in two states of tune; 150bhp (380Nm/tq) and 180bhp (430Nm/tq). There are two transmissions; a six-speed manual or the nine-speed automatic (as tested). Emissions start from a lowly 129g/km CO2. With a diesel engine this impressive, few will lament the absence of a petrol powered alternative.
The Discovery Sport looks sleek and trades on its handsome lines as much as its off-road ability. The ‘Phoenix Orange’ and contrasting black roof of OE15 ZTS met immediate appeal from neighbours and friends.
All the customary Land Rover design elements are present including the clamshell bonnet. The striking forward-angled C-pillar is a doffed cap to its Freelander2 predecessor. The bonnet is fitted with an airbag on its trailing edge to improve pedestrian survivability in the event of a collision.
Climb inside the Discovery Sport and it feels more premium than the old Freelander2, but more ‘everyday’ than the new Evoque just released.
On urban roads (you know, those mended by workmen tapping it ‘flat’ with a back of a spade), the car feels well isolated. On the motorway, it wafts along with unnerving calm. The seats are comfortable too and if you push row two rearwards, there’s acres of space. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the unfortunate pilchards trapped the optional third row.
The Discovery Sport truly impresses when it ventures off road and get its feet dirty. Few of its genuine competitors are capable of such dual-purpose ability. My rough-road excursions found brisk dirt roads, cow-trodden farm tracks and a gnarly hill climb. Oh, and a mud-plugging river section. Not a peep of protest from the Disco Sport.
Over the 368 mixed miles driven during the week, an average of only 37.1mpg was achieved compared to the official 53.3mpg (combined).
There are five trim grades available on the new Discovery Sport; the generously equipped entry level SE, SE Tech, HSE, HSE Black and HSE Luxury. Prices start from £31,095 for the SE, peaking at £43,400 for the HSE Luxury auto.
When considering the Discovery Sport, factor in the reasonable price tag for the range-entry SE model, the go-anywhere capability buried deep within its DNA, then add loads of style and comfort for everyday family driving.
If you’re looking for sizzle, you’re unlikely to find it with the Land Rover Discovery Sport, especially if you stick to one of the more financially sensible SE or SE Tech trim grades.
Besides, Range Rovers sizzle – Land Rovers just get on with it.