Land Rover is an evocative name in the world of automobiles. A byword for toughness and reliability. For decades, the brand has appealed to enthusiasts of all kinds of adventure, and the presence of Land Rover products in some of the most inhospitable parts of the world is a testament to its character. Synonymous with exploration and discovery, it isn’t surprising that the Discovery Sport is one of its most popular offerings in India. Combining rugged off road ability with family style comfort & luxury in an efficient size, the Discovery Sport is a good all-round package offering versatility that makes it just about right for demanding Indian roads. Now equipped with a more powerful diesel engine, it retains its classic capabilities that has all that it takes to challenge the new breed of competition on the road. We took the SUV to tango with the retreating monsoon across the unexplored hills of Landour and beyond, and came back quite pleased after clocking over 1000 kms through torrential rains, cloudbursts and some heart stopping moments in the mountains.
The Discovery Sport has not changed much in terms of design since the latest generation model was launched. It remains a rather sporty and rugged looking SUV, no matter which angle you view it from. The strong sculpted angular front gives it a distinct presence on the road, and the Carpathian Grey contrast roof is a nice touch as well. Down the side, the black A & B pillars, coupled with the character line running from the front fender to the tail lamps, creates an uncluttered yet strong profile. The subtle roof spoiler and cladding on the rear bumper finishes out the back, and the overall design is mature and devoid of any gimmicks. At a time when SUVs are increasingly acquiring an urban sophistication and getting fancier, the throwback design of the Discovery Sport tends to be rather appealing. The design has aged well, and stands out for its distinctive presence in its segment.
The interior is where things start to show their age a bit, as the cabin looks a tad dated when compared to the likes of the BMW X3 or the Audi Q5. The central infotainment screen with buttons on either side looks jaded and feels sluggish to use. Technology moves fast in these times, and the Discovery Sport could do with some upgrades here to get its mojo back. In terms of equipment, it comes with two-zone automatic climate control, electrically operated front seats and a panoramic moon roof. The infotainment system comes with navigation built in, but the sluggish interface makes it inconvenient to use on a regular basis. There is also AUX input and bluetooth connectivity, but sadly no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Build quality inside the cabin still retains a lot of hard plastic and you do tend to miss the pleasure of soft touch material and tactile switches over longer drives. While the chrome encased dials in the central console haven’t lost their appeal and the steering feels nice and solid, a closer look at the detailing does whisper that the build quality needs some more attention on the inside.
The cabin otherwise is a wonderfully comforting place to be. The front seats are electrically adjustable, and the rear seats can be reclined as well, to give backseat passengers added comfort. The 10-speaker Meridian sound system delivers crystal clear audio throughout the cabin. Overall, it is a supremely comfortable vehicle with a quiet and insulated cabin, and has a brilliant ride quality that is set up on the softer side.
Rear legroom and headroom is top notch, and the Discovery Sport can easily carry five passengers without any discomfort. The configuration offers enough versatility to turn it into a 2 seater with a humungous 1698L of load space, or a 5+2 seater with 194L of loadspace. The two seats in the third row can fit in young children at best, but aren’t very comfortable over longer distances. There is ample storage within the cabin, and that’s before you get to the boot. With the third row seat folded down, boot space is large enough – we packed in the family’s weekend luggage, a golf set and the dog with remarkable ease. With the rear seats folded, the boot space swells even further, and you could well move homes in it.
The major change to the Discovery Sport is under the hood, with the 2.0L diesel Ingenium engine producing 177 BHP and 430 Nm of torque in all variants except for the base ‘Pure’ model. Our test SUV was the HSE, and it made full use of the powerful engine to give a driving experience that was noticeably better than its predecessor. While it certainly isn’t the most powerful vehicle around, it has more than enough grunt to handle tough situations. Paired with the 9-speed automatic transmission, the power delivery is smooth and linear, and was just perfect for a comfortable long distance journey. The gearbox is a little slow to kick down at times, but putting it in Sports mode solves the issue. The steering provides a decent amount of feedback, and while the Discovery does roll a bit over the corners, that’s only to be expected from an SUV of this size. What’s more noticeable than the Discovery Sport’s power is its torque and low end grunt. Driving up to Landour meant tackling some extremely steep inclines and sharp bends simultaneously, and the Discovery Sport impressed with its response and excellent turning radius. With the 4WD coupled with Land Rover’s Terrain Response System, it never failed to deliver. This SUV is capable of handling some rather intense off-roading, and the system allows you to select modes corresponding to the road conditions, ranging from Grass, Gravel, Snow, Mud and Sand. The Discovery Sport certainly carries Land Rover’s off-road pedigree forward, and our road trip across wet highways, twisty hill roads, muddy terrain and steep incline tested it to the brim.
In terms of fuel consumption, we returned efficiency figures of 11 km/l which wasn’t too bad. And with a fuel tank capacity of 65 litres, you do get a reasonably long range before fuel pit stops.
While the Discovery Sport may seem a little dated on the inside, it remains a tough and reliable piece of engineering that will never let you down. It is hugely confidence inspiring, and can handle just about anything you throw at it without blinking. And that’s not something a lot of cars can boast of.
With prices for the petrol and diesel variants starting at INR 51.37 lacs and INR 44.68 lacs respectively, it isn’t a bad deal either. The HSE Luxury trim is the top of the line variant and is priced at INR 61.95 lacs. For its price, the Discovery Sport offers tremendous versatility – it can be a great family car, combining rugged off-road ability with style and luxury. Above all else, it makes you want to get out and explore the unexplored, and keep discovering. It induces a great amount of confidence on tough terrains, and for that reason alone, it stands head and shoulder above the rest in its class.