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The Land Rover Discovery Sport was first introduced in India in 2015 as a replacement to the Freelander 2. Three years on, the Discovery Sport is given a mild refresh with a starting price of Rs 41.99 lakh ex-showroom (Mumbai). Available in both petrol and diesel formats, the Land Rover Discovery Sport lies just above the entry-level Range Rover Evoque in the British marque's product portfolio.
We drive the rather niche petrol-powered Discovery Sport in the HSE (High Specification Equipment) trim to find out how much it gives justice to the iconic 'Discovery' nameplate. We also drove the diesel-powered Discovery Sport — read the review here.
In case you didn't know, Land Rover has only two model series: Range Rover and Discovery (three, if the now-discontinued Defender is considered). The Range Rover series has seen a lot of models over the years, namely the Evoque, Velar, Range Rover Sport and a top-of-the-line Range Rover.
Meanwhile, the Discovery series had just one flagship model — Discovery 4 (now just the ‘Discovery'). In order to appeal to another category of the market, Land Rover introduced the Discovery Sport — the smaller yet capable form of the premium Discovery.
But has the Discovery Sport got its roots strong? Find out for yourself!
Design And Styling
While the original Discovery was popular for its boxy styling, the new Discovery Sport is more angular and chiselled at the peripheries. In fact, all modern Land Rovers follow this aesthetic approach set by the brand's Head Of Design, Gerry McGovern. They are becoming less boxy with time, which is good in terms of aerodynamic efficiency but still upsets the purists.
At the front, the slotted two-slat grille forms the major design element, while the other components connect around it in a mix of linear and orthogonal fashions. The LED DRLs offer a good visual drama and the fog lamp housings (lamps are absent on this trim) make the front-end look sporty. Above all this rests the "D I S C O V E R Y" lettering to show it's different from a Range Rover.
The tall side profile elevates to hold the gloss black roof with the thick C-pillar. A character line advances from the fender streaks and to the tail lamps through the door handles. A black fibre garnish runs across the bottom and around the wheel arches. The 18-inch five spoke alloy wheels suit the design and the high 212-millimetre ground clearance, well.
The rear is perhaps the least striking profile and has received mixed opinions ever since the vehicle was officially unveiled for the first time in 2015. The LED tail lamps, twin exhaust pipes and the raised skid plate are pleasing to look at but not so much in unison. However, there are a few who like the rear design and compared to that of the new flagship Discovery, the Discovery Sport has got a much better-looking posterior.
In total, the new Discovery Sport's design language suits both, those who prefer elegance as well as those with an inclination towards sportiness.
On the inside, the Discovery Sport features a basic layout. There is a good mix of leather, beige and brushed metal components across the dashboard and on the steering wheel. Since this is one of the entry-level Land Rovers, you can find a lot of plastic bits (not cheap ones, though) all around the interiors.
The large and well-gripped steering wheel is tiltable and telescopic, but manually. The steering wheel also hosts functionalities related to the infotainment system and cruise control, on the left and right, respectively.
The instrument cluster comprises of both analogue and digital elements with the speedometer and tachometer reading out using a needle. Between them lies the 5.0-inch TFT display which incorporates the gauges for the coolant temperature and fuel, plus a host of other vital information.
The lighting and wiper stalks behind the steering wheel, which are sturdy and click into place in a satisfying manner. The metal-lined two-zone climate control knobs have got a good feel to them, however, the other switches feel a bit flimsy.
Compared to the Range Rover Evoque (with which it shares a lot of equipment), the interiors of the baby Discovery feel airy and roomy. The primary reason for this is the large greenhouse (amount of light getting inside through the windows) which the design offers.
Stereo And Infotainment
The infotainment package on the Discovery Sport comes in the form of an 8.0-inch touchscreen unit, placed at a high and convenient position on the dashboard. The User Interface (UI) is smooth and the system comes with a lot of functionalities including navigation, radio, InControl (smartphone connectivity), WiFi hotspot etc., but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Most of the functions can be accessed by the physical buttons placed on either side of the screen too. There is also abutton to engage or disengage the parking assist or proximity alert; a handy addition whenever the system annoyingly starts beeping in tight traffic conditions.
As in most Jaguar Land Rover models, the audio system is supplied by Meridian — one of the leading brands in the field of sound systems. The 10-speaker unit does not disappoint music lovers at all. The engineers at Land Rover and Meridian have given adequate attention to the quality of the audio, at any given location inside the cabin.
The volume control knob (also acts as the on/off button) for the audio system is small and placed well-below the touchscreen unit. This could cause a bit of confusion if you are trying to turn off the audio or reduce the volume for the very first time; that too in a hurry (unless, of course, you use the steering-mounted controls).
Practicality, Comfort And Boot Space
In the Indian context, the practicality offered by an SUV is quite overwhelming — lots of space and comfort without having to worry about scraping the underbody. The new Land Rover Discovery Sport does a good job in this regard and holds a commanding presence too.
As mentioned, the Discovery Sport's design lets enough light enter inside unlike in the Evoque. If that's not enough for you, the blinds of the large fixed panoramic roof can be opened to create a unique travel experience.
Most of the buttons and knobs are set up in an ergonomic fashion; well within reach. However, the power window switches are placed at a really inconvenient location — at the base of the windows. Meanwhile, the usual place for the power window switches is taken up by the door lock/unlock buttons.
There are quite a lot of storage spaces spread across the cabin. The armrest can be slid forward to suit your driving position and the common smartphone connectivity ports are hidden under it.
The perforated leather seats offer good comfort and support for an SUV, but may not be the best in terms of Land Rover standards. The front seats are 10-way adjustable but do not come with memory. However, the top-end HSE Luxury (available only with the diesel variant) trim gets 12-way adjustable front seats along with memory options.
At the rear, the split-folding seats can be reclined to a certain extent and can easily fit three adults. The backrest is quite tall but some may find the rear seats to be a bit on the stiffer side. The rear AC vents are positioned on either B-pillar and this leaves some legroom for the middle passenger and space for the transmission tunnel.
The test vehicle we received came in a ‘5+2' configuration; making it an almost seven-seater. We used the term ‘almost' since the last-row seats can only be used by toddlers (that too if they are not claustrophobic). Still, we appreciate the fact they get a cup/bottle holder on either side.
The third-row bench can be folded absolutely flat to reveal a good boot space of 981 litres. Fold the middle-row seats and you get 1698 litres of storage. However, the third-row bench does not allow the car to have a full-size spare wheel.
Engine, Performance And Driving Impressions
The 2.0-litre turbocharged (single twin-scroll) Ingenium petrol engine is certainly the rarer choice compared to the diesel. However, petrol SUVs are niche, yet still maintains an active customer base in the country. While sales are comparatively lower, those who buy a premium petrol vehicle do not seem to regret their choice.
The Si4 petrol Discovery Sport makes 237bhp at 5000rpm and 340Nm of torque from as low as 1500rpm, which are decent figures for the size of the engine. This comes mated to a nine-speed ZF automatic transmission which sends power to all four wheels.
The retracting gear selector is a party trick which never gets old. When the vehicle is off, the knob hides down to give a near-flat surface. But the moment you turn on the ignition, the knob rises from below — quite a sight to watch for the first time. Also found in Jaguar models, this function helps a bit in space management.
The petrol engine promises a 0 – 100km/h sprint time of 7.9 seconds and a top speed of 204km/h. The same power plant does its duty in the Range Rover Velar petrol (read the review here) but comes assisted with twin-turbochargers; thus bumping up the performance figures.
The Discovery Sport also feels virtually lighter than the diesel variant but lacks the torque surge which the latter offers. In fact, the turbo-spool happens quite early and is short-lived compared to the diesel variant. This makes the Si4 petrol variant better-suited for the city and short-distance commute. As a plus point, the NVH levels are low too.
The electronic power steering is nicely weighted at speeds, yet light enough to manoeuvre in tight spaces. Fast turns do welcome some amount of body roll, but that isn't strange for an SUV this size. The suspension is tweaked to suit the best of both: on-the-road and off-the-road; with off-the-road being more prioritised.
The Discovery Sport wafts over potholes effortlessly. Of course, the ride isn't expected to be absolutely calm, but you will instantly observe the reduced amount of jostles (especially for the rear passengers), which are accompanied in most off-roaders.
The suspension of a conventional off-road vehicle is generally softer in order to absorb all the shocks. However, this makes the ride quite bouncy and passengers are often thrown around inside the cabin when the wheels hit an undulation. In this regard, the engineers at Land Rover have done a brilliant job in tuning the Discovery Sport's suspension for both well-paved and ill-patched roads.
There is an arresting air surge from the exhaust pipes at high speeds and deep pedal positions, even though the engine seems to lose breath at high revs. The transmission works really well during relaxed drives, but once the throttle is fully depressed (be it in Drive or Sport), the gearbox acts a bit confused.
The paddles do not return the best shift-times and the engine automatically tends to downshift at high speeds, even when it is not required. We haven't noticed this in the diesel version and that is the better choice if you intend to use the car for frequent highway runs.
Further convenience is added to the driving experience through Automatic Speed Limiter (ASL). Activated by the "LIM" button on the steering wheel, you can set the maximum speed at which you want to drive (hence avoiding speeding fines).
ASL and cruise control work side-by-side. While the cruise control can be used to travel at a certain speed, the vehicle can touch higher speeds while going down a slope. This is where ASL comes in to play. The system makes sure that the vehicle moves only at the set speed, through braking.
Since we are talking about a Land Rover, it is only fair to draw focus to its off-roading prowess. Before we begin, rest assured the Discovery Sport is a baby Discovery and in all aspects, a Land Rover.
We took the SUV over quite some demanding terrains and it tackled all with utmost ease. The Terrain Response System works brilliantly in adapting the differentials, transmission and some electronics (including traction control) to suit the path ahead. The system comes with four modes: General Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand; each of which can be selected via the buttons on the dashboard.
Gone are the days of choosing between 'High' and 'Low' gear settings to match the terrain in a conventional four-wheel-drive vehicle. Advanced automotive electronics now allow you to select the terrain you wish to drive, and the computer does the rest.
We made some paths of our own with the Discovery Sport to test its performance through various modes. First on Grass/Gravel/Snow mode, the throttle response becomes a bit relaxed while traction control and gear changes are more active.
With a water-wading depth of 600mm and Mud/Ruts turned on, you can drive the SUV through small water channels with no worry of getting stuck. In higher Land Rover products, the mode also lifts the air suspension.
Sand Mode, as the name suggests, is meant to keep the vehicle always in traction over loose grounds. It holds the gears longer so that the differential can provide optimum torque and traction to the wheels.
In most conditions, the SUV will be able to pull you out from any ground in Drive mode and broken roads or undulations can easily be dealt at good speeds (recommended only when the road is clear and wide).
Here are some facts and figures of the latest Land Rover Discovery Sport petrol variant:
|Engine||1997cc Turbo Petrol|
|No. Of Cylinders||4|
|Top Speed (km/h)||204|
|Average Mileage (km/l)||10.5|
|Wheel Size (mm)||235/60 R18|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||2024|
|Ex-Showroom Price (Delhi)||Rs 53.75 Lakh|
|Price As Tested||Rs 61.35 Lakh|
Variants, Mileage And Colours
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is available in five variants (four diesel and one petrol). The same is listed below along with their ex-showroom (Delhi) prices:
|HSE ||Rs 53.75 Lakh|
|Pure||Rs 44.67 Lakh|
|SE||Rs 51.24 Lakh|
|HSE||Rs 54.76 Lakh|
|HSE Luxury||Rs 60.43 Lakh|
The Discovery Sport petrol variant is not a wise choice if fuel consumption is a concern. It returned a mileage figure close to 11km/h and this goes down to single digits in the city. Turning on the ECO mode helps a bit in improving the fuel efficiency, but does not make a major difference.
The Discovery Sport is available in six colour choices: Byron Blue (review vehicle), Firenze Red, Fuji White, Indus Silver, Santorini Black and Scotia Grey.
Safety And Key Features
For the price point and what it is meant to be, the Land Rover Discovery Sport ticks a lot of boxes on the features and equipment front. Here is what you can expect to get:
- All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC)* and Terrain Response
- Electronic Traction Control and Hill Start Assist
- Roll Stability Control (RSC) and Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
- Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
- Gradient Release Control (GDC)**
- Automatic headlamps and wipers
- Fixed panoramic roof
- Heated and powered ORVMs
- Two-zone climate control
- Ambient illumination
- Keyless entry
*ATPC keeps the car at a steady speed over challenging ground conditions so that you can fully concentrate on steering. Speeds from as low as 1.8km/h to 30km/h can be set; making ATPC somewhat of a cruise control for broken paths.
**GDC prevents the vehicle from accelerating too quickly after it comes to a stop on an incline. The system is similar to Hill Start Assist.
The Discovery Sport also comes with essential safety features, some of which are listed below:
- 9 airbags
- Two ISOFIX child seat mounts
- Auto-locking and collision-unlocking doors
- Auto-hazard lights on panic braking
- Cruise control
- Reverse parking camera and Park Assist
Additionally, the global-spec Land Rover Discovery Sport (features more safety aids than the one we get in India) has scored a five-star rating in Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) safety tests.
Accessories And Warranty
To make your Discovery Sport even more functional and unique, you can opt for a whole range of accessories from Land Rover. This ranges from exterior protection, exterior and interior styling bits; storage aids, loading equipment and wheels. You can check out the entire list on Land Rover's official website or the nearest dealership.
- 3 years or unlimited kilometres
***The warranty period can further be extended through some region-specific plans. Contact your nearest Jaguar Land Rover dealership for more details.
Scheduled Service Interval
- 1 year or 13,000 kilometres (can be availed under a five-year maintenance service plan)
The petrol-powered luxury SUV segment in India does not see a lot of players due to its niche acceptance. For the same reason, the Land Rover Discovery Sport petrol rivals only the BMW X3 sDrive30i, Audi Q5 45 TFSi and Mercedes-Benz GLC 300; models within the same price category.
Below is a brief fact check between the Land Rover Discovery Sport and its primary rivals:
|Model||Displacement (cc)||Power/Torque (bhp/Nm)||Starting Price|
|Land Rover Discovery Sport||1997||237/340||Rs 53.75 Lakh|
|BMW X3 sDrive30i||1998||248/350||Rs 58.25 Lakh|
|Audi Q5 45TFSi||1984||248/370||Rs 55.27 Lakh|
|Mercedes-Benz GLC 300||1991||241/370||Rs 54.50 Lakh|
The Land Rover Discovery Sport Si4 variant is one of the very few SUVs in India which make buying a petrol-powered luxury SUV seem like a sensible choice. It is as capable as the diesel variant and performs even better in some key areas (city driving, NVH controls, etc.) though it makes some compromises in terms of fuel efficiency. Still, the Discovery Sport petrol remains a true Land Rover and that's what counts for many.
To sum up, the baby Discovery Sport has definitely got its roots strong!
Abhinand Venugopal Thinks!
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is one SUV which shouldn't spend the majority of its lifetime on level terrains. Very few premium SUVs (as low as 10%) sold in the country are used in the way they are meant to be, while the rest of the pack ends up being just a sort of status symbol. The Discovery Sport is definitely ‘above and beyond' its competitors in terms of off-road capabilities, but sadly, only a few try to prove it.
What We Liked
- Cabin space and greenhouse
- The host of off-road modes and assists
- Adaptability of the suspension for both rough and smooth terrains
- Road presence offered in a relatively-compact size
- Very few shortcomings compared to the flagship Discovery
What We Didn't Like
- Petrol variant lacks the punch of the diesel; especially on the highway
- Odd placement of some buttons (e.g. power window switches)
- The complication in activating/using certain functions (e.g. low range mode, cruise control and ASL; in-built navigation, etc.)
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
- Unusable third-row seats
What You Need To Know
- Production: Completely Knocked Down (CKD) product supplied by Jaguar Land Rover's Halewood manufacturing plant in Liverpool, UK
- Local Assembly Plant: Chakan, Pune, Maharashtra
- Engine: The Ingenium family consists of a range of modular architecture engines (in both petrol and diesel formats) in three, four, five and six-cylinder formats; each cylinder having a capacity of 500cc (in the Discovery Sport, 500cc x four cylinders = 2000cc or two litres)
- On-Road Price (Mumbai): Rs 61.35 lakh
- Booking Amount: Rs 1 lakh
Did You Know?
The Land Rover logo we see today was created in 1989. Rumours suggest that the oval shape was inspired by a pilchard (a marine fish) tin, as the designer was having lunch when he designed it. Meanwhile, the arrow shapes lying after "Land" and before "Rover" signifies the brand's slogan — "Above and Beyond".
(Writing by Abhinand Venugopal; Additional inputs/editing by Jobo Kuruvilla; Photography by Abijith Vilangil)