The Land Rover Discovery Sport is the replacement for the Freelander. But unlike its predecessor, which was the affordable entry into the brand — and looked it, the Discovery Sport resembles the more expensive Range Rovers and is also infused with styling cues from the ultra-successful Evoque.
The wedge-shaped silhouette creates the illusion of a tapering roofline, and the shortish overhangs give it that “purposeful stance” that makes it one of the sexier SUVs on the market. The effectiveness of the design goes deeper than its exteriors. For a compact SUV, the Discovery Sport feels stunningly like a big luxury car inside.
Heavy on practicality, it’s the only compact SUV to offer 5+2 seating, which means that it can also sit two more people (ideally kids) in pop-up seats in the back. It also comes with a powered tailgate (flick the button and it closes under its own power), which you won’t fully appreciate until you own a car with one. The electronics are generous too. There’s autonomous emergency braking, which brakes the car if it detects that a crash is imminent, a rear parking aid and camera and off-road aids like Terrain Response and Hill Descent Control.
For all this, the Discovery Sport is surprisingly affordable, coming in variants ranging from $37K to $45K, most powered by a 2.0 Litre turbocharged engine (we tested the SD4 SD 2.2 Litre diesel version).
So are there any catches? In our test car there was an occasional wheeziness before the turbocharger kicked in, mostly noticeable in stop-start traffic. Other reviewers have found the same, although the acceleration is impressive when the engine is fully spooled up. The ride got a bit bouncy when we hit bumps at speed. But, in all, this is an imposing compact SUV with many luxury features for the money.
A powered tailgate means you press the button and it closes by itself.
The 2.2 Litre turbo-diesel has plenty of power once it winds up.
The Discover Sport has USB sockets for front and back seat passengers.
There’s an understated, clean feel in the cabin, but you spot the economy in some of the cheap trim.
It’s the only compact SUV with room for two extra (small) people, making 7 in all.
The nose’s styling reminds you of the Range Rovers and the Evoque.