2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport road test review
These new-generation Land Rovers may seem confusing at first, but a look at the lineup can be quite revealing. Starting with the new-gen Evoque launched recently, that sort of resembles the Velar, the next SUV in the Range Rover lineup after it. Similarly, this second-gen Discovery Sport looks even closer to its full-size sibling, the Discovery. Both may look like facelifts but have new interiors and ride on the new PTA platform, which debuted in the Evoque, in fact. Like the Evoque then, the Disco Sport is available in S and R-Dynamic SE variants, and packs in new interiors, a fairly rich list of standard features and BSVI-compliant diesel and petrol engines. Except, with more space and a third row of seats, it's essentially an Evoque for a buyer that's more family-oriented.
How does it look?
Like we said, it closely resembles the full-size Discovery especially when seen head-on, save for the slot in the bumper below the grille that's on the Disco Sport. Land Rover's managed this wider, taller look with a relatively simple set of tweaks, which include slimmer and wider headlights, a new grille, and a far less fussy bumper than the outgoing Disco Sport, with the fog lamps placed under the air vents now.
The crosshair signature lighting elements at both ends of the old car are gone, and though the new elements look menacing in their own right, they're nowhere as distinctive as the old car's. For an SUV of such a manageable size, measuring in at just 4.6m long, the third row of seating in the Disco Sport really is something of a surprise.
What's the cabin like?
Again, with a mix of new soft-touch materials and alignment with the more expensive Land Rovers, the Disco Sport feels suitably modern and premium, though the drama of the rising gear selector dial is lost, with a gearshift lever taking its place. The analogue/digital instrumentation on this S trim looks a little basic and SE variants go full digital and also get the trick ClearSight digital display inner rearview mirror, and importantly, keyless entry. The 10-inch TouchPro infotainment, with all the latest standards of connectivity, is a huge upgrade over the old car, while Land Rover's Terrain Response 2 is controlled via the climate control knob on the lower panel now. Standard equipment includes niceties like wireless charging, auto everything, 360 degree parking camera and a 180W six-speaker audio system. Strangely, the full-length panoramic sunroof is fixed.
Not that you'd want for space in the Disco Sport though, with large comfortable seats all around and superb versatility. The second row can even be adjusted for extra leg room, and recline, which makes us wonder why the base of the seat isn't a bit longer to truly take comfort to the next level. Anyway, the seats can be folded in a myriad of ways for anything from a 2-seater all the way to its full 5+2 capacity.
The rear seats are best left to kids but still gets useful storage spaces, charge points and blower controls, though the climate control is two-zone for the front passengers only. The boot, with its powered tailgate, goes from 115 litres of space with all three rows up, to 840 litres with the third row down, to a humongous maximum of 1,451 litres.
How does it drive?
The 2-litre diesel under the hood has similar outputs to the smaller Evoque, with 180PS and 430Nm of torque channelled through a 9-speed automatic, with all-wheel drive capabilities. However, given the extra size and weight (the Disco Sport weighs about 2.1 tonnes), the motor can feel like it's strained, and sounds like it too. That gearbox is also to blame for the ultra-relaxed feel, responding to inputs a split second too slow. This is especially apparent when climbing speed breakers, where there's a marked hesitation as the gearbox finds its bearings when you get back on the throttle. For example, kickdowns from 30-50kmph took a relatively lazy 2.4 seconds, and the 0-100kmph dash came up in 11.3 seconds.
Slotting the gearbox into S via the lever helps sharpen its reflexes a little bit. More than that, it activates the paddleshifters, which are otherwise disabled with the lever in its regular drive mode. You'd want manual control, purely to be able to short shift, since the spread of power sits between 2,000 and about 3,700rpm. Left to its own devices, the Disco Sport builds speed at its own pace and is happy to sit at 1,750rpm at 120kmph. Our fuel economy tests showed an impressive 15.8kmpl on the highway, and 8.4kmpl in the city.
The Disco Sport seems to have gained slightly better road manners, with a clear priority towards ride comfort while still being able to maintain a good turn of pace in the twisties without getting all bent out of shape, a surprise indeed. With the way the suspension flattened out a particularly bouncy stretch of road, I wasn't expecting the Disco Sport to turn into a corner quite as sharply as it did. Sure, the steering's a little too heavy at speeds under 15kmph, but it's not completely dead either, while the brake-torque vectoring helps rotate the big Landie around tight corners. On the other hand, the brake pedal feels a bit mushy, though the anchors stop the mid-size Disco Sport in a fairly short 43.2m and 3.1 seconds.
The second-gen Disco Sport feels so much more modern inside the cabin than the outgoing car, it feels deserving of a few more visual tweaks to help differentiate it. But what you have is a comfortable, well-specced mid-size luxury SUV that's perfectly suited to family use, at prices that undercut its five-seater rivals, like the Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5 to name a few.
Photography by Anis Shaikh
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