The Discovery Sport is Land Rover’s fastest selling model of all time, and best seller of the current range by a mile. While it’s an accomplished car, and a far better proposition than the Freelander it originally replaced in 2014, the volume of sales has no doubt more to do with this being in the entry model in the Discovery range, for those who want the green badge and a more rugged offering than the Range Rover Evoque, but wouldn’t normally be able to afford the price point of a Land Rover.
The Discovery Sport is still a premium offering, benchmarking a wide range of popular models, because it comes with seven seats as standard, so targets everything from an Audi Q5 to a BMW X3 to a Skoda Kodiaq.
We’re testing the 2.0-litre diesel (which replaces the old 2.2-litre diesel engine) version for six months, in HSE specification, which is the highest trim level.
As with all cars that come out of Jaguar Land Rover these days, the Disco Sport is the right balance of snazzy stuff – LED donut tail lights, split-colour roof and black gloss wheels – and sober practicality – Land Rover’s tell-tale big buttons for the off-road system inside, and plain black leather everywhere.
Our HSE version is the highest trim level and gives you the large horizontal touchscreen for phone, media, satnav and climate. There’s a USB charging point hidden in the front centre console and, usefully, one by the gear selector to stop wires trapping in the console’s lid. There are two more in the second row of seats, which is a £115 option, but worth it if you have kids.
Our car has the £2,245 entertainment pack which gives you Meridian™ Digital Surround Sound System (825W) with 16 speakers plus subwoofer (Touch Pro), a wifi hotspot which is unbelievable handy and Navigation Pro which isn’t so much cop: we’d rather the car had Apple CarPlay and we could use Google Maps.
We have the 2.0-litre diesel which is giving us about 35mpg in a mixture of town and motorway driving, about 5mpg more than the same engine in the larger Discovery. It’s not the perkiest or quietest 2.0-litre diesel but has 240 horsepower which is enough for any foot-down driving you’d want to do in an SUV.
We also have the optional magnetic damping system (£840); again, in a family load-lugger, it’s a dispensable luxury.
The Disco Sport carries on Land Rover’s enviable tradition of sound engineering - this car will go anywhere, any time, any place, with its off-roading capability and on-road refinement. There is a third row of seats, but they’re only really suitable for children, given the small amount of leg space. But with the car fully laden, and a top box full to the brim too, there’s enough torque (500 Nm) mated to a smooth eight-speed auto box to make this the right family car for many out there.
Replace “passion” with “popularity” and you have the golden calf of manufacturing – a model that’s selling as fast as it’s built. The Disco Sport is the more utilitarian sibling of the shiny urban Evoque which has sold equally quickly. Land Rover’s esprit de corps among its customer base is growing stronger every day; the brand has got it spot on in recent years with the near-perfect blend of engineering, design and brand appeal (shame about the dodgy in-car electronics but hopefully that will catch up). Once a Landie fan, always a Landie fan.