Land Rover Discovery Sport SUV review
"The Land Rover Discovery Sport is a luxurious family SUV that’s great on and off-road"
- Fantastic off-road
- Seven-seat flexibility
- Plug-in hybrid model
- Entry-level model lacks equipment
- Higher specs expensive
- Poor real-world fuel economy
Verdict – is the Land Rover Discovery Sport a good car?
If you want the legendary off-road prowess that Land Rover is famous for, but can’t pay fully-fledged Discovery prices, then the Land Rover Discovery Sport could be the car for you. With seven-seat practicality and the option of a hybrid model, this SUV is even more versatile than you might expect. Although it’s Land Rover’s entry-level model, it’s still quite expensive, and real-world fuel economy for the petrol engines is not as good as on paper, so make sure you bear this in mind.
Land Rover Discovery Sport models, specs and alternative
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is the British SUV brand’s entry-level model. It’s a mid-size premium SUV that’s available with seven seats (or, as Land Rover says, “five plus two”) and it arrived in 2015 to replace the old Freelander. It was updated more recently with styling tweaks, more in-car technology, mild-hybrid engines and also a plug-in hybrid version.
The Discovery Sport has evolved to keep up with the competition thanks to these changes. The badge and styling means that it’s a popular choice among style-conscious owners, but there’s much more to the Discovery Sport than its superficial qualities; it’s great to drive, comfortable, practical and very good off-road.
The car’s main rivals are premium SUVs such as the Mercedes GLC, BMW X3, Lexus NX, Volvo XC60 and Audi Q5, although the option of seven seats is unique to the Land Rover. Less pricey alternatives with seven seats include the Skoda Kodiaq, Kia Sorento, SEAT Tarraco and Hyundai Santa Fe.
Changes in 2019 brought the Discovery Sport up to date with more modern engine options, with the car now benefiting from mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid technology. All but the entry-level diesel use the former, which involves a small electric motor that boosts efficiency of the engine rather than being a real hybrid that can be driven on electric power alone. Of course the plug-in hybrid model is able to drive just on electricity, so it could bring seriously low running costs to owners.
A further update in mid-2023 brought updates to the interior and infotainment system, plus an improved range for the plug-in hybrid P300e models. Standard tech was also improved, with all Discovery Sport models now coming with a digital instrument cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa integration as standard.
The Discovery Sport is available with two extra seats as an option. These are located in the boot and can be folded away when you don’t need them. This allows 840 litres of luggage space (to the roof), expanding to 1,451 litres of space with all the rear seats folded away. There’s enough space in the rearmost seats for kids, but adults might find them too cramped for anything but a short trip.
There’s only one diesel engine available: a 2.0-litre mild-hybrid with 201bhp. The entry-level D200 engine gets an auto gearbox and four-wheel drive. The mild-hybrid P250 petrol is only available on Dynamic HSE models. Both the diesel and petrol mild-hybrids sit in the highest Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) brackets, so company-car buyers would be better off with the P300e plug-in hybrid with its lower emissions and BiK rate.
There’s no shortage of equipment on any Discovery Sport, with standard kit such as part-leather and heated seats, cruise control and a heated windscreen for icy winter mornings. There’s also a good helping of modern infotainment technology, too, with Bluetooth, DAB radio and a 10-speaker stereo.
The Discovery Sport is very safe, with Euro NCAP giving it the full five stars following crash tests. That’s thanks in part to lane-departure warning and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems, plus a full complement of airbags and anti-skid electronics. The standard four-wheel-drive boosts drivability in poor driving conditions, too.
The Discovery Sport finished 49th in our 2023 owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK. Land Rover came a disappointing 22nd out of 29 manufacturers in the 2022 Driver Power brand survey.
Overall, the Land Rover Discovery Sport is a fine choice. It looks great and has masses of appeal for families, who are likely to choose it over an MPV, even with so many great rivals out there. It's more fun to drive than a Volvo XC60 and better off-road than a BMW X3.