What is it?
Although it may not seem it at first glance, this is the updated 2017 model year Land Rover Discovery Sport, here in plush HSE Luxury guise. True Land Rover geeks may have noticed the new Aruba metallic paint colour (one of four new shades) and there’s also the option of a new Graphite Pack that brings a dark finish for the grille, bonnet lettering and side vents.
The real changes come inside, though. The top infotainment system has been upgraded to the latest InControl Touch Pro, complete with a 10.2in super-wide touchscreen that has a higher resolution than before. Not only does it respond to pokes and prods, but you can swipe and pinch like a smartphone, too.
Interestingly, there’s also the addition of Tile Bluetooth tracker integration. This allows you to hunt down, say, lost bags or keys via the car’s sat-nav, which can pinpoint exactly where you left them by locating a small attached tag bought separately from Tile. Rounding off the updates is the addition of driver condition monitoring, an intelligent speed limiter and lane keep assist.
What’s it like?
If you’ve driven an Ingenium-engined Discovery Sport before, you’ll know exactly what to expect here. Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre diesel engine that’s potent enough to send near enough two tonnes of SUV up the road in less than nine seconds when coupled to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. Performance is more than adequate and our experience suggests it won’t struggle even when fully loaded. It’s also worth knowing that it can tow up to 2.5 tonnes with the heavy-duty tow pack. Even a stock version can manage over two tonnes.
It may have plenty of grunt, but the diesel motor isn’t quite as refined as those found in some rivals. There’s a noticeable vibration through the steering wheel at idle and it sounds gruff when worked hard. It also suffers from the classic JLR pause when you try to accelerate hard from a standstill. The half-second delay between pressing the accelerator pedal and the car launching can make pulling out of intersections tricky.
Under normal use, though, the engine settles down into a quiet hum, while the gearbox changes gear smoothly. Unlike some rivals, the Discovery Sport doesn’t try to feel, well, sporty. The steering may be quicker than you expect, well weighted and precise, but there is more body roll than you’d get in a BMW X3 for instance. We’re not complaining; it feels more in keeping with the Land Rover badge and you can still hustle the Disco Sport along at a fair lick. Body control is good over bigger bumps; it may allow movement but it’s well contained and makes for a comfortable ride.
Unfortunately, scruffy surfaces aren’t smothered as effectively as you might hope. Although the 19in wheels of our test car won’t have helped, our experience suggests that even on smaller wheels, you do feel ruts and bumps through the base of your seat.
Inside, the bigger touchscreen is a big improvement. The extra width may have removed the hard buttons, but large icons make it easy to select the function you require. The graphics are sharp and menus easy to navigate, although we still prefer a rotary controller to a touchscreen.
As for the rest of the interior, we still like the sliding and reclining middle row of seats, which will help occupants get comfy or prioritise boot space. The rearmost seats are on the small side, but if you treat the Discovery Sport as a 5+2 rather than a full seven-seater, they’re a useful feature.
Should I buy one?Land Rover’s amendments to the Discovery Sport may seem small, but they make an already good car that little bit better. While you hopefully wouldn’t need to use the new safety features regularly, the improved infotainment system is something you’ll appreciate every day.
Yes, there are more dynamic SUVs out there, but few offer such a good blend of practicality, comfort and desirability. If you’re in the market for this type of car, you’d be a fool to discount the Discovery Sport.
Land Rover Discovery Sport 2.0 SD4
Location Surrey; On sale Now; Price £43,400; Engine 4 cyls, 1999cc, diesel; Power 178bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 317Ib ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 9-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1884kg; Top speed 117mph; 0-62mph 8.4sec; Economy 53.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 139g/km, 27%; Rivals Jaguar F-Pace 2.0d, BMW X3 xDrive20d
What is it?