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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the refreshed Land Rover Discovery Sport

My favourite uncle drives the current Land Rover Discovery Sport so there is a lot of pressure on me with this review. He wants to know everything about this refreshed vehicle, but also wants to be told that it is not better than his one. Which of course it is, but I won’t tell him that to his face. I shall tell you what makes it better though.

BUT FIRST…

As you may have gathered, I drive a shit-ton of cars. Not only do I attend all the launches of new cars, but I receive a new car to test every single week. Some days, my head is spinning to such an extent that I can be on a plane and have no idea where I am flying to or for which car launch. I am not complaining, just merely explaining what happens. If other motoring journalists tell you otherwise, they are either lying or they work in a team and so only attend one launch a month. But I digress.

My point is, that I arrived on this Land Rover Discovery Sport launch with the intention of reviewing a seven-seater. That is what I think of when I think of a Discovery Sport. It is what Land Rover wants you to think as well. So imagine my confusion when I opened the boot of our launch car only to find five seats?! I then looked at the other launch units and realised that they too only have five seats. I finally found one with seven seats and so faith in myself was restored. Until I found out that seven seats in the Disco Sport is only available as an option. You cannot buy a standard Disco Sport with seven seats. Why does it matter so much? Well, I think if you are marketing something as a seven seater, it should at least be one. All of the time. Not just some of the time. I probably should have known all of this already though, but I like to remain an open and honest book with you, my readers.

THAT’S WHERE THE MOANING ENDS

Now that I got that off my chest, let’s move on to what makes the updated Discovery Sport better. From a looks point of view, it isn’t too dissimilar to the current one. It has new LED headlamps at the front and rear, a new bumper and grille. You can also get 21-inch wheels now. But don’t, they may look good, but they are not as practical on our unmaintained roads.

Discovery Sport

Inside sees a few luxurious updates making the cabin even more premium. The touchscreen infotainment system is comprehensive and intuitive. Just below that you have the climate control dials, but at the touch of a button, the one dial will turn in to the Terrain Response dial. It looks very, very slick and very cool.

Disco

All the seats are new and have all been made far more comfortable. And I can genuinely attest to this. The driver seat is squishy and really comfy. Something I don’t usually take note of. Land Rover claims that there are 24 seating combinations available (if you’ve paid for the extra row of seats that is). The 2nd row can be folded in a 40:20:40 configuration. It is hella spacious in the five seater, but with the seven seats in and all up, your boot space is hella limited.

Discovery Sport interior

DRIVING THE DISCOVERY SPORT

With the same platform used on the Range Rover Evoque, the new Disco Sport body is 13 per cent stiffer than its predecessor, with rigidly-mounted subframes that reduce noise and vibration intrusion into the cabin, improving comfort and providing maximum safety in the event of a collision. Even driving the diesel-powered unit, the cabin is calm and quiet. Noticeably so. Even on gravel roads. It’s a flippen great drive over all.

Engine wise, you can choose between the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel with its 132 kW and 430 Nm. Performance is sufficient, but most noticeable is the new transmission which is smooth-shifting and doesn’t hold on to a gear as long as it used to. The only prob is the fuel consumption. Although it is claimed at 5.8l/100 km, I got a much higher reading on the launch. But to be fair, I wasn’t driving it on a long open route like the other media as I filming, so I was doing a lot of back and forth and stopping and starting. But still, it was just too high for my liking at 11l/100 km.

If the D180 is not your vibe, you can opt for the P250 petrol option which sees a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit under the bonnet. It provides you with 184 kW and 365 Nm. I didn’t get to drive this due to filming the D180, so I can’t comment on it. But I do know that all models come standard with an automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

GET OFF THE ROAD

This is where the Discovery Sport shines. Being a Land Rover, you can expect it to be more than capable off-road. Most of the time it will be front-wheel driven, but as soon as it detects a slippery road of sorts, it will automatically send power to the rear wheels and adjust torque delivery to suit the conditions. “To maximise efficiency, the standard All-Wheel Drive system benefits from Driveline Disconnect – a Power Transfer Unit at the front axle that disconnects drive to the rear wheels under steady state cruising, reducing frictional losses and re-engaging AWD in less than 500 milliseconds.”

It has a wading depth of 600 mm and a ground clearance of 212 mm. The updated Disco Sport has the 2nd-generation Active Driveline system, as well as Terrain Response 2 with four off road modes: Comfort, Sand, Grass/Gravel/Snow, and Mud/Ruts. It tackles gravel roads like it does tar. Genuinely, it is so sure-footed on gravel that one might push it a bit quicker than usual on gravel because you feel so secure.

UBER COOL TECH

Probably one of the coolest things I have seen in a long time (I did see it on Evoque, but it still makes me happy now) is the ClearSight Ground View technology which helps drivers navigate high city centre kerbs or tackle rough terrain by projecting camera imagery that offers a virtual 180-degree view beneath the vehicle onto the touchscreen. Effectively making the bonnet invisible. But wait, there’s more!

Discovery Sport
ClearSight Ground View

ClearSight Rear View mirror is another bit of tech that is uber cool. It transforms the rear view mirror into a video screen at the flick of a switch to display what is behind the vehicle in crisp high definition. It takes some getting used to and I find myself switching back to normal view, but I think it will become a game changer.

Discovery Sport
ClearSight Rear View

SHOULD YOU BUY IT?

Look, it is a tricky one. I love the Discovery Sport. I think it looks good, it drives beautifully, it has all the bells and whistles (and you can add even more, at a cost), it offers seven seats – even if you have to pay for the extra row but it is still more than what its rivals offer. The Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and BMW X3, for example, are all mighty strong contenders here, but none offer the seven seats or off-road capability the Disco Sport offers. As I so often say, it comes down to what you need from your car. And if Land Rover’s reputation for unreliability doesn’t put you off, you will enjoy a really great product in the form of the refreshed Discovery Sport. My uncle may just have to go out and buy himself the new one. 😉

PRICING:

Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 AWD: R749 500
Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 AWD: R759 900
Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 S AWD: R795 500
Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 S AWD: R805 800
Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 AWD R-Dynamic S: R819 100
Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 AWD R-Dynamic S: R829 500
Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 AWD R-Dynamic SE: R855 300
Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 AWD R-Dynamic SE: R865 700
Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 AWD R-Dynamic HSE: R897 800
Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 AWD R-Dynamic HSE: R908 100

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