These days, it seems like automakers can’t stop miniaturizing some of their automobiles. Despite the fact that cars are getting bigger & bigger, there are some things that will be available in a more compact package.
Take for example the Discovery Sport. Now, while it may look similar to the Evoque, I can assure you that this is different from that particular model. But wait a minute, “Land Rover already has the Discovery” I hear you saying. Like the Ranger Rover Sport, the Discovery Sport is essentially the smaller variation of the nameplate. That means it has the same seven-seat capacity, and all-wheel drive capability as the original, right?
That’s what we’re about to find out, as well as to see if the Discovery Sport can live up to the Land Rover’s reputation of being practical go-anywhere vehicle.
But first, let’s take a look at the Discovery Sport’s exterior. Borrowing some styling cues from the smaller Evoque, the ‘Disco’ Sport has a sleek and modern design that veers away from the brand’s more butch designs. While it may not be as sexy as its smaller stablemate, the Disco Sport still has an alluring look to it. From its eye-catching headlights, swooping profile, and distinct taillights, it’s as good looking as any modern Land Rover on the road today.
If there was something that I really liked about this particular Land Rover, it would have to be its coat of paint. Called Aintree Green Metallic, this shade of green just brings out its ‘rough and ready’ nature, while also showcasing its plethora of creases, sharp angles and kinks. The circular motif found on the headlights and taillights, meanwhile, make it a bit more distinct than the rest of the line up. The 19-inch alloy wheels complement the overall look of the Discovery Sport, although they do resemble the ones fitted on the previous Evoque.
Overall, the look of the Discovery Sport is cool, stylish and stately. It does look a bit dated now when compared to the all-new Evoque, though. But with the release of the refreshed Discovery Sport in the UK some months ago, maybe it’s only a matter of time before it arrives here.
Hop inside the Discovery Sport and the smell of Windsor Leather immediately greets you. From the seats themselves, to the four-spoke steering wheel, as well the trim on the dashboard and interior panels, the fine leather blankets the cabin nicely. Splashes of aluminum, as well as soft-touch materials further give the cabin a premium and quality aesthetic. Both front seats are electronically-adjustable although I do wish the driver’s seat had a memory function.
Whether you’re seated at the front or back, the Discovery Sport’s seats will not disappoint. The seats hug you and support your back, all the while keeping you comfortable and relaxed. There is also generous headroom, legroom, and elbowroom on the Discovery Sport. The third row seats, however, are sadly not as comfy due to the limited space which I’ll get to later.
As for the dashboard and center console, they could use some updating or a once-over. Don’t get me wrong, the controls and overall design themselves are laid out nicely. But just like its exterior design, it hasn’t exactly aged well over the years. Granted, the simple layout means everything is within easy reach but it won’t exactly be winning any design accolades. Luckily, the updated Discovery Sport gets a new cabin design that is more pleasing to the senses.
Providing in-car entertainment inside the Discovery Sport is the TouchPro touchscreen media display. It offers satellite navigation, Bluetooth, Aux, USB, AM/FM radio, as well as the capability to check the weather, and manipulate the dual-zone automatic climate control. Impressive, yes, but I was let down by its slow processor and delay in recognizing commands. I was also surprised to see it did not come with the Meridian sound system which I came to adore in the Evoque. Sure the standard Land Rover sound system worked fine but the Meridian sounds way better.
Remember the uncomfortable seats located at the very back that I was talking about earlier? Those seats are best left for the kids. But even if small adults or teenagers could sit in the back, they will find it uncomfortable altogether as the third row does not come with any A/C vents. We're not kidding, we looked at every nook and cranny and there were none to be found. For a vehicle that calls itself a seven-seater, this is quite a disappointment.
But if you’re going to treat the Disco Sport strictly as a five-seater, you will like its generous luggage space. With the third-row seats folded, you can carry a week’s worth of bags plus some extra space to store tall items like plants or furniture. And if you do need additional space, the second row seats can easily be folded with a press of a button from the very back. That way, you can even store a folding bicycle or maybe some long boxes without needing a pickup truck.
Under the hood of this Land Rover is not a turbo-diesel engine. Powering this particular Discovery Sport is a gas-powered, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Despite its size, this inline-four produces an impressive 250 PS at 5500 rpm along with a healthy 365 Nm of torque at 1200 - 4500 rpm. Power is then sent to all four wheels via an all-wheel drive system and nine-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
With that kind of power figure, it can definitely be said that the Discovery Sport is no slouch. With over 360 Nm of pull available from the get-go, this crossover is fast on its feet, or should I say tires. Put your foot to the floor and the engine accelerates with eagerness. Yes, there is a bit of delay between stomping your foot on the gas pedal and actually feeling the torque, but that is to be expected from turbocharged engines.
With generous torque always at the ready, overtaking slower cars on the highway was a cinch in the Disco Sport. The turbo-diesel versions may feel a bit torquier but they tend to lose steam at the upper rev range. This one, however, feels more exuberant and has power throughout the rev band.
With nine gears to play with, the Discovery Sport was also quite frugal. In normal city driving, it was able to return about 7.5 - 8.0 km/l. At highway speeds, on the other hand, the crossover was able to sip fuel between 14.0 - 14.5 km/l. Sure some might say it could have been better, but they’re respectable figures nonetheless. Plus, you do have to remember that it has a turbocharged heart.
When you’re done playing around, this crossover reverts back into a smooth every day runaround. Its adaptable steering means it’s light when just going around town or maneuvering through tight parking spaces. Hit the highway or travel through a mountain pass and it rewards the driver with a bit more resistance and feedback. It’s no sports car but at least the Discovery Sport always lets you know where the front wheels are.
If the smaller Evoque has a tendency to bounce around when going over bumpy roads, the Discovery Sport is a bit more forgiving thanks to its softer ride. While it will never be as comfy as the Discovery, the Disco Sport had no trouble dampening Metro Manila’s roughest roads. Then there's its Noise, Vibration, and Harshness deadening which kept outside noise to minimum.
We didn’t get a chance to take the Disco Sport off-road but we’re happy to report it does come with all-wheel drive and the intelligent Terrain Response system. In a nutshell, the driver can select the exact mode that the road condition calls for. It has four selectable drive modes: General Driving (normal), Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts, and Sand. It also gets what Land Rover calls ‘Active Driveline’ which essentially cuts off power to the other axle should it not be needed. This effectively reduces wear, while also improving fuel economy.
It’s safe to say that the Discovery Sport has a lot going for it. It comes with a turbocharged heart that is more than capable in city the, the highway, as well as the occasional off-roading trip. It has plenty of cool features inside and out, which means that it can keep you safe as well as entertained throughout an entire journey. And finally, it’s all-wheel drive system is smart enough to get you where you need to go.
It’s biggest hurdle, however, would be its price; Php 4,390,000. Yes, it is a premium vehicle, but its closest competitors (Lexus NX, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5) offer a far better value proposition and possibly even more tech. And like what I mentioned earlier, it’s not exactly new. The rest of the competition, on the other hand, have already received a facelift or an upgrade. If ever the updated Discovery Sport arrives, it might have a better chance of offering something greater.
The Discovery Sport is in a tough spot. But if the Evoque is not to your liking and you find the Discovery a bit too big, then this tiny seven-seater could be the compromise that you need.