Ride, Handling & Performance
Interior Comfort & Practicality
Technology & Safety
Value & Ownership
With the continued rise of the humble ute as a lifestyle option, it is very easy to forget what else has been designed to serve multiple purposes.
When it comes to genuine versatility, there are very few cars that can tick all the boxes. Versatility often brings compromises in one form or another, in the majority of cases, cars that aim to be a jack of all trades end up mastering none.
There are of course, on paper, a few exceptions, one of which is the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport. Land Rover make some very bold statements about this model, claiming it combines ‘design excellence, engineering integrity and exceptional versatility.’ Strong words indeed.
The Discovery Sport is a model still enjoying its youth, it has only been in production for a few years. The Discovery Sport was charged with taking the place of the old Freelander in the Land Rover line-up.
When looking closely at what the Discovery Sport brings to the table, its narrative can be framed around a single word, practical. It’s the word that came up more often than any other during our time with the car.
In a market drowning in SUVs, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd, many of which claim practicality as one of their main credentials in a bid to attract family buyers, not all of them deliver.
This review is looking at the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport in HSE TD4150 guise. This is the model that seems to present the best metal for money proposition in the range. In original specification, with no options ticked, it has a price of $61,000 plus on-road costs.
The HSE TD4150 is no bare bones models, it’s packed with standard kit including keyless entry, push button start, a powered tailgate, dual zone climate control, grained leather seating with electric adjustment and memory in the front, and Land Rover’s very clever and revered Terrain Response system.
The Discovery Sport is also a car with an extensive standard safety package. It has achieved the maximum 5-star ANCAP safety rating. The car is equipped with the full complement of airbags including a pedestrian airbag system that will protect pedestrians from making contact with the base of the windscreen. There is also Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning and ISOFIX anchor points for child seats.
Torque vectoring is another quality safety inclusion that improves the Discovery Sport’s stability, it improves grip and steering by constantly monitoring and balancing the distribution of torque between all four wheels.
Before going any further, the exterior of the car requires proper acknowledgement. The design team has come up with an exterior that just seems to fit no matter where the car is situated. Whether it be a school drop off zone, Westfield car park or sandwiched between caravans on the banks of the Murrumbidgee, the Discovery Sport looks at home. This is something that can’t be said about most of the models that sit in the premium segment of the SUV market.
The exterior of our test car takes the styling a little further with a premium metallic paint option, Silicon Silver and the Discovery Sport Black 20 Inch Alloy Package. This option brings a contrast roof colour in Santorini Black, privacy glass, ebony headlining, centre stack side rails in a dark grey brushed aluminium and massive 20-inch gloss black alloys.
Practical really is the best word to describe the interior. The emphasis on practicality is obvious, regardless of what seat you occupy in the Discovery Sport, the practical nature of the layout is hard to miss.
The interior is uncluttered and adopts a minimalist approach. It’s a refreshing change from the over supply of buttons found in some SUVs.
There is also great use of matte black surfaces that really suit the personality of the car. The Discovery Sport HSE TD4150 utilises materials that are nice to touch, yet give a sense of ruggedness and durability that can survive the daily trials that children present.
Clever storage solutions are plentiful, the highlight is the compartment beneath the cup holders in the front, perfect for storing change for the parking meter. Thankfully, there are four USB ports and two 12 volt sockets to give everyone the chance to charge their devices on long journeys.
The InControl Touch infotainment system is well sorted and provides an intuitive solution for phone connectivity and music streaming. The centrepiece is an 8-inch touch screen with satellite navigation as standard. The infotainment package incorporates a 10 speaker Meridian Sound System which does an impressive job. After sampling the higher spec audio option in the Jaguar XE, we weren’t expecting much from the standard unit, however, it’s a quality bit of kit in its own right. Disappointingly, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring technology are unavailable, even as options.
There is heaps of space, and consideration for how to make the abundance of space a comfortable place to be. The packaging is spot on, it’s very spacious in the first two rows.
The Discovery Sport is available in five or seven-seat configurations, the latter will add an additional $3400 as part of the Row 3 Pack. This option also brings air-conditioning vents and a USB port. It should be stated this is technically a 5 +2 arrangement. Even with the ability to adjust the middle bench, the third row is tight. Ideally, these seats are best used for family members with younger legs during quick trips.
With the third row occupied, luggage space is severely compromised. There isn’t much room left to play with. On the flip side of this coin, the cargo area is huge when the rear seats are retracted.
Putting the practicality of the design to one side, it’s very easy to forget the headline act is the new engine technology. The Discovery Sport HSE TD4150 makes use of Jaguar Land Rover’s new 2.0 litre Ingenium diesel engine. It’s designed to offer improved power, refinement and economy.
It’s an engine that represents the brand’s investment in the future. The Ingenium technology takes advantage of modern materials and electronics to deliver a better and more efficient driving experience.
The engine’s all-aluminium construction has helped reduce weight by 20kg over the outgoing unit. It doesn’t sound like much in the context of a car of this size, but an achievement nevertheless that demonstrates Land Rover’s commitment to continued improvement.
In the HSE TD4150, the new Ingenium engine is tuned to output 110kW of power and 380Nm of torque. The power figure looks modest, but it’s responsive and the delivery of torque at low speeds is impressive, meaning there’s no noticeable lag.
Where this engine really moves the game forward is in the area of refinement. It’s very quiet, leading to a serene drive. The noisy clattering of older diesel engines is well on the way to being confined to the archives of automotive history.
To compliment the new engine, a 9-speed ZF automatic transmission takes care of the gear changes. The first ratio is very low, but will no doubt prove its worth off-road. As is the case with most ZF boxes, smooth and accurate shifts define its character.
The Discovery Sport offers a pleasant driving experience. It’s refined and comfortable inside the cabin. The steering is well weighted for both city and country driving. The handling is very good for a car of this height and the stability in the corners is excellent.
The suspension is brilliant, it absorbs the lumps and bumps with ease. This was especially impressive considering the huge wheels on the test car.
What moves this car firmly into the category of lifestyle vehicle, is the technology you can't see. Drive is sent to all four wheels, it’s not an on-demand system. The Discovery Sport also utilises Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, this gives the car some genuine off-road ability.
The Terrain Response system offers four pre-programmed settings that cover General Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud & Ruts and Sand. This electronic wizardry alters the engine, transmission, differentials and chassis systems to match the driving situation at the push of a button.  
In a further boost for lovers of the great outdoors, there is a greater degree of wheel articulation for added confidence when the conditions get tough. There is also hill descent control and wade sensing, the Discovery Sport has a wading depth of 600mm.
The Discovery Sport is a capable performer off-road, it always feels surefooted and would meet the needs of most people who enjoy a bit of camping and fishing.
As an all-rounder, the Discovery Sport is a hard act to follow. Many will argue, only a ute can offer the level of off-road prowess to satisfy those who claim to be hardcore. In some instances, this might be accurate, but most hobbyists will never undertake anything that the Discovery Sport can’t cover.
What about towing capability? I hear you ask. The Discovery Sport HSE TD4150 is rated to tow up to 2200kg, which is plenty for a trailer or camper.
Utes may very well remain the favoured toy of the weekend warrior, but there isn't a ute on the market that offers the ride and handling capabilities of the Discovery Sport for daily transport and chores during the week.
Over the week of testing, we were unable to get anywhere near the claimed combined fuel consumption figure of 5.3L/100km. After nearly 800km of city and country driving, the average sat at 7.6 litres for every 100km of travel, this also includes three days with the car in ECO mode. The overall result for the week is still competitive for a car of this size with all-wheel drive.
Land Rover do offer very reasonably priced service packages. For the 2017 Discovery Sport, $1,210 will cover the first three services. Another benefit of the new Ingenium engine technology is longer service intervals. For the MY17 Discovery Sport HSE TD4150, intervals are set to an industry leading 24-months or 34,000km.
Generally, cars fighting for a share of the lifestyle category bring many compromises. The Discovery Sports ticks more boxes than most and succeeds at being a comfortable car for the daily commute and a car for those who want to spend their leisure time in the fresh air.
Essentially, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is one of the best answers to the lifestyle vehicle question. It’s practical and versatile, the very things SUVs are supposed to be. With its new engine, the Discovery Sport offers comfort and refinement to rival the very best in the premium SUV segment. It also brings genuine off-road ability for those who enjoy getting dirt under the arches.
2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE TD4150 Specifications
Price from $61,000 plus on-road costs Engine 2.0L Ingenium TD4 diesel Power 110kW @ 3500rpm Torque 380 @ 1750rpm Transmission 9-Speed automatic with paddle shift Combined Fuel Consumption 5.3L/100km Tank Capacity 54L Performance 0-100km 10.3 seconds Length 4599mm Width 2173mm Height 1724mm Wheelbase 2741mm Weight 1884kg Ground Clearance 212mm Wading Depth 600mm Turning circle 11.6m Maximum Towing 2200kg Service Intervals 24-months or 34,000km Warranty three year/100,000 kilometre
Options fitted to test vehicle
Discovery Sport Black – 20 Inch Alloy Package (Discovery Sport Black Exterior, No Derivative or Engine Badge, Contrast Roof – Santorini Black, Privacy Glass, Ebony Headlining, Centre Stack Side Rails – Dark Grey Brushed Aluminium, 20” Split Spoke Wheels with Gloss Black Finish - $4640
Row 3 Pack (Second Row Seats: 60:40 Slide & Recline (5+2 variant), 5+2 Seating, Climate Control - High Level Cooling Vents to Row 3 & 1 x Row 3 USB Reduced section Steel spare wheel) - $3400
Silicon Silver Premium Metallic Paint - $2680
Fixed Panoramic Roof - $1850
Head Up Display (Infrared Reflective windscreen Head-Up Display) - $1550
Blind Spot Monitor and Reverse Traffic Detection - $1180
Illuminated Aluminium Tread Plates (with Range Rover Lettering) - $790
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) - $640
Climate Front Seats (Heated & Cooled) with Heated Rear Seats - $640
Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) Radio - $560
InControl Apps - $550
Heated steering wheel - $320
Locking wheel nuts - $80
Let's start a Car Conversation, does the 2017 Discovery Sport's practical and versatile nature satisfy the criteria for it to be called a lifestyle vehicle?