The Land Rover Discovery Sport is Solihull’s sleeper hit. Despite not drawing the crowds the same way the Range Rover family does – especially its closely-related Evoque sibling – the entry-level seven-seater SUV has consistently been the brand’s breadwinner, with nearly half a million units sold worldwide over the past five years. Now, there’s a new one and it promises to be just as capable while playing just as incognito a role.
Like the new Evoque, the new Disco Sport rides on the latest Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA), a modular mixed-material platform that is designed with new technologies and electrified powertrains, such as mild hybrids and plug-in hybrids (the latter available by the end of the year), from the outset.
Not that you’d know that from looking at it, however, because the body looks pretty much identical to the one before, right down to the trademark body-coloured C-pillar. In fact, the dimensions have been largely carried over – measuring 4,597 mm long, 2,069 mm wide and 1,727 mm tall, the new car is just two millimetres shorter and three millimetres higher, and crucially, it retains the same 2,741 mm wheelbase.
Even so, there are a number of aesthetic tweaks, including new LED headlights with double U-shaped daytime running lights that also function as sequential indicators; a similar graphic can be found at the rear. You also get a redesigned grille and a subtly reprofiled front bumper with slimmer air intakes, while the rear bumper design has also been given a revamp.
There’s also a sportier R-Dynamic trim that adds the prerequisite aggressive front and rear bumpers, integrated exhaust exits and body-coloured cladding, plus a range of new wheel options that now measure up to a massive 21 inches in diameter.
If the exterior revisions leave you wanting, then the interior promises a bigger step forward, borrowing cues from the Evoque and Velar. There’s a sleeker, more modern dashboard with greater use of gloss black surfaces and a pistol-type electronic gearlever that replaces the old rotary dial. Strangely, the Disco Sport doesn’t get the dual-screen Touch Pro Duo infotainment system found on its more fashionable brethren.
The upper 10.25-inch screen is still here as part of the Touch Pro interface, but there’s now just a simple array of touch-sensitive buttons below it, although a physical volume knob and a pair of rotary controllers remain. These are used to control the air-conditioning, but they can also manipulate the car’s new Terrain Response 2 system at the push of a button. A 12.3-inch digital instrument display is available as an option.
Plenty of new features have borrowed from the Evoque, including wireless smartphone charging, a 4G WiFi hotspot, a digital ClearSight rear view mirror and a ClearSight Ground View system that gives you a view of the terrain under the bonnet. Massage seats are also offered and they can be upholstered in a sustainable, non-leather Luxtec material made of a recycled polyester microfibre.
Other changes are more practical in nature, such as the fitment of a 40:20:40 (previously 60:40) split-folding and sliding second row and a 25% increase in small item storage space to 48 litres. There are also optional Click & Go tablet holders at the rear, the rugged Activity Key from the Jaguar F-Pace that lets you store your regular key safely in the car, and an Advanced Tow Assist that makes reversing with a trailer easier and safer.
From launch, the new Disco Sport will be available with a choice of petrol and diesel Ingenium engines, all 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder mills. There are 200 PS and 249 PS petrol options and 150 PS, 180 PS and 240 PS diesels, and only the base 150 PS diesel is available with front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox – all others get all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic.
The all-wheel drive models also get a 48-volt mild hybrid system that adds a belt-integrated starter generator to recapture kinetic energy when decelerating, provide assistance under acceleration and shut the engine off under braking and at speeds below 17 km/h. The PTA platform allows the 200 Wh lithium-ion battery to be stored under the floor without compromising interior or luggage space.
Another benefit of PTA is a 13% increase in structural rigidity, with rigidly-mounted subframes that reduce noise and vibration intrusion into the cabin. All-wheel drive models get an Active Driveline torque-vectoring rear axle and Driveline Disconnect that disengages the rear axle when not needed to improve efficiency. Buyers can also specify Adaptive Dynamics dampers, controlled using the Configurable Dynamics menu.
Off-roading is part and parcel of Land Rover’s DNA, and to that end the Terrain Response 2 system debuts a new Auto mode that adapts the vehicle settings to any given terrain, although you can still choose from the usual Comfort, Sand, Grass-Gravel-Snow, and Mud and Ruts modes. As for safety, the Disco Sport comes with the usual driver assists, including Adaptive Cruise Control with Steering Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking and a Driver Condition Monitor.