Sunday, February 12, 2017 10:00 am ·  0 Comments
The Discovery Sport is Land Rover’s premium compact SUV available in three trim levels, SE, HSE and HSE Luxury. My review vehicle was the HSE LUX (Luxury) that included a number of optional but desirable extras raising the base price by $16,000 to just under $70k before taxes.
Driving and handling characteristics
All of the Discovery Sport gasoline powered models come with the turbocharged 240hp 2.0L Si4 (four-cylinder) engine matched with a nine-speed automatic gearbox (including paddle shift) and four-wheel drive. Most of the power is sent to the front wheels unless traction becomes an issue, then, more power is sent to the rear wheels. The redirection of power to the rear wheels also happens when various off-road driving modes are selected.
I found the SUV to have an unacceptable lag across the initial two gears especially when starting off, and a tendency to dwell too long in second gear when having used the paddle shift while in normal drive mode. These made leaving stoplights or pulling into traffic from a stop sign both uncomfortable and less safe than I like.
The Discovery Sport has a fully independent suspension system that combines front coil-sprung struts with a multi-link rear suspension; intended to deliver “enhanced dynamics and refinement together with a compact layout to provide increased interior space. Mounted on a steel sub-frame, the system is light and stiff for optimum steering response, chassis performance and refinement”. Despite all of this, I found the ride to be quite harsh, especially on our often less than smooth pavement. The Discovery Sport is designed to handle off-road driving and is said to be able to ford just over half a meter of water with 21-centimeter ground clearance. I did not test the off road capabilities. If interested in the off-road capabilities, I suggest you check out this video:
All other parts of the driving experience were positive and enjoyable. Once on the highway and at higher speeds, the vehicle proved to be quite stable, with excellent visibility and steering response. High speed cornering resulted in noticeable body roll but little loss in stability. In the city, this vehicle is very maneuverable and easy to park.
Comfort and Styling
The 2017 version of the Discovery Sport HSE really hasn’t changed much from the prior year. They have added a new Dynamic HSE Package that includes some exterior enhancements such as unique bumpers, a more aggressive front grill and a few more exterior color selections. There are also some interior changes with this package that features leather seats with contrast stitching and metal finished pedals. The dark leather seats with red stitching are attractive, and reasonably comfortable. The heated seats and steering wheel made cold weather driving a more pleasant experience. There is a major change to the infotainment system that now includes a larger and multi function screen that recognizes swipes, etc., similar to most mobile devices. Despite the better graphics and functionality, I still found the screen size to be too small for navigation. The voice command system is simple enough, but does not include navigation commands. My test vehicle had a number of other “enhancements” including Sirius satellite radio, heads up display, heated windscreen, ebony headlining and black contrast roof. Standard on the HSE Luxury are the powered gesture tailgate, passive keyless entry and illuminated tread plates.
In addition to the regular array of seat belt and air bag safety features, this vehicle comes standard with power folding heated mirrors, backup camera, and rear parking sensors. The vision assist package ($1,200) includes adaptive Xenon LED headlights with auto high beam assist and a full surround camera system. The driver’s tech package ($1,400) adds autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitor and reverse traffic detection, traffic sign recognition, an intelligent speed limiter and lane departure warning. Several new safety features have been added to the 2017 model including a driver condition monitor that emits an alert if it detects drowsiness in the driver’s actions. A new lane assist feature detects lane marking and aids in keeping you in the lane. Finally, an intelligent speed monitor is available that is intended to help the driver stick to the speed limit.
Things to consider
The Discovery Sport HSE Luxury is a compact SUV, yet sufficiently large for everyday use by a family of four. Despite the use of Sport as well as Luxury in the name, I really don’t think it is much of a “sport” or “luxury” vehicle. Sure, it’s got lots of bells and whistles and even some leather – but suggesting sportiness or luxury is overstating things a bit. As with many vehicles, the price tag rises quickly when many essential as well as desirable options are added.