2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport
The Discovery Sport is the only compcat premium crossover to offer three rows of seats
Date Posted: March 6, 2015
By Zack Spencer
Land Rover is the only premium crossover maker to offer three rows of seats with room for seven passengers with the Discovery Sport
Land Rover is a go-anywhere type of brand; it has been around since the late 1940 and was designed and built as a British alternative to Jeep, which was used extensively during World War II. Land Rover continues its go-anywhere attitude even in its smallest crossover, the all-new Discovery Sport. To showcase the latest member of the family, Land Rover chose Iceland, in January, to let me try this affordable crossover.
During the three-day excursion auto journalists drove from green, coastal valleys to ice covered roads near volcanic mountains, past bubbling geysers and stunning waterfalls to experience the country that is called the land of “Fire and Ice”. The reality is that most people buying this compact crossover will use it to go shopping, drive to work, take kids to soccer practice, but the idea that a vehicle has off-road credentials is attractive.
There are a few things about this new Discovery Sport that will get potential buyers attention. First is the price range. The Discovery Sport starts at the same price as all the other premium compact crossovers, like the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Acura RDX, right around $41,000. The good news is that the top-end model is $49,990. Seconds, this is the only crossover in this size and price range to offer three rows of seats and seven passengers. The base model comes with two rows standard but this add-on is only $1900.
The more upscale Range Rover line also has a compact crossover called the Evoque. The engineers took that basic platform and stretched the wheelbase by eight centimetres, making much more room for passengers in the rear seat; Land Rover claims the second row legroom is even better than the Range Rover Sport. The rear suspension has also been adjusted to a more compact design, this allows the addition of the third row and also provides a smooth and quiet ride. In addition, each row of seats is slightly higher, providing stadium-like seating and better outward view.
The dash and centre console is rather simple and covered with requisite soft-touch materials. It might be a bit basic for a Range Rover, but in this less expensive Land Rover application it is spot-on. The best news for followers of Land Rover and cousin Jaguar products, is the introduction of a new touch-screen head unit-- and not a moment too soon. The previous version was old and slow; this latest version brings the company up to date with full integration with electronics and much snappier performance.
Under the hood is the same 240hp 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder found in the Evoque and it has more than enough punch for all situations. It is good of the line but higher speed passing is almost exhilarating. The power goes to all four wheels through a new 9-speed automatic transmission that is so well tuned, I feel it is the strongest part of the vehicle. The shifts are so smooth, the vehicle is always in the right gear and it makes the whole experience pleasurable. But what makes this a Land Rover is the electronics and all wheel drive system that provides the best grip in each situation. There is a selector in the dash that lets the driver choose between several setting, like snow, sand, grass, ruts, or auto. The snow setting used in Iceland was just the ticket for going through deep, rutted snow-packed country roads. The power is constantly shifted from wheel-to-wheel and the brakes are applied to wheels that are spinning. The throttle is also cut to help the Discovery Sport gain traction. This works very well but I found it might be a bit too oppressive, cutting almost all power in some situations where wheel spin would be okay. The driver does have the option to turn off the settings, something I would do from time to time. The highlight was driving this new crossover through a river, wading up to sixty centimetres (two feet) of water with no water coming into the vehicle and the engine running perfectly. Again, something most Vancouverites will not do but fun to know this Land Rover can do it.
Styling is strong, especially in person. The simplicity of the design is welcome; this is a vehicle that will age well. It looks like a smaller version of the Range Rover Sport and is a clue to the look of the larger land Rover LR4 (maybe called Discovery) replacement.
This Discovery Sport has a different feel compared to the Range Rover Evoque cousin. The suspension is tuned to be smooth and comfortable, the engine and transmission do a superb job of making every trip effortless, even the power steering is easy and relaxed. The Evoque is tuned to be more of a driver’s car, with the shorter wheelbase providing more of a sporty nature.
Land Rover and Range Rover can’t make enough of its newest products and I believe this Discovery Sport will be a massive hit for the company. It has more room than the competitors, for the same price, it has available seven passenger seating and a powerful engine matched to a go anywhere AWD system. Oh, and the Land Rover name on the hood doesn’t hurt either. Get one while you can…
Power: 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder with 240hp
Economy: 11.0L/9.0L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $41,490-$49,990
I believe this Discovery Sport will be a massive hit for the company