Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE review
The Land Rover Discovery Sport is an attractive mid-sized premium SUV offering strong all-round ability
Thanks to a recent facelift Land Rover’s Discovery Sport has received a new lease of life keeping it competitive in the increasingly crowded premium SUV market. Land Rover’s pricing means that the Discovery Sport crosses into multiple classes competing against a broad range of rivals including the BMW X3, the Audi Q5 and the higher trim variants of the Nissan X-Trail and Skoda Kodiaq. Can the Discovery Sport be all things to all people? We’ve had a look at the HSE trim level to decide.
The Discovery Sport HSE offers an array of ability covering a broad range of functions from the daily commute to towing a caravan or horsebox. In HSE trim the Discovery Sport is equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels, xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights and enhanced bodywork trim that can be specced in black for an additional cost.
In Sport HSE trim there is a choice of four different engines – three diesels and one petrol. The two lower-powered diesels can be specced with either a manual or automatic gearbox, with the petrol engine and highest output diesel engine only available with a nine-speed automatic gearbox. If you never expect to need the Discovery Sport’s four-wheel drive, the least powerful diesel can also be had in a front-wheel drive configuration. The diesels are better suited to higher mileage drivers delivering fuel economy between 32 and 42mpg under the new WLTP testing regime with the petrol variant managing around 25mpg on average.
The petrol powered HSE model does offer brisk performance, but unless you’re specifically after a performance SUV we’d recommend the mid-level diesel model as it has plenty of power. Whichever engine you choose the HSE is an entertaining car to drive with well-weighted and precise steering and good body control which makes it fun to drive on a winding road while also feeling composed and refined on the motorway.
The 19-inch alloy wheels on the HSE models can make for a slightly jittery ride at urban speeds but it’s not unduly uncomfortable and once you reach higher speeds the ride quality smooths out impressively.
Overall the Discovery Sport HSE’s interior feels impressive but there are a couple of hard plastic surfaces on show which take the edge off the premium experience. It has a well thought out layout, but some may not find it as premium as similar offerings from Volvo or Audi. It is well equipped, though, with leather seats (heated and with 10-way electric adjustment for the front) a rear-view camera and a Meridian sound system and a 10.2-inch infotainment system. Some rivals may offer more advanced infotainment but the Discovery Sport counters this with its ‘5+2’ seating which offers occasional use seats in its boot. Accommodation is, overall, pretty generous given the car’s relatively compact exterior dimensions.
While the Discovery Sport might not be quite as bang up-to-date as some other rivals, it’s still a very attractive package, especially in HSE trim which offers a good blend of equipment for the price. However, there’s only one petrol engine to choose from and it’s both expensive and thirsty and given the current diesel backlash, you may also want to look at other petrol-engined SUVs from other manufacturers before making your choice.