Land Rover Discovery Sport Review logo

Land Rover Discovery Sport Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2015
      Body type
      SUV
      Fuel type
      Petrol, diesel
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
“Roomy, versatile, and refined SUV”

Best bits

  • Generously equipped as standard
  • Excellent off-roading ability
  • Seven-seat flexibility

Not so great

  • No six-cylinder engines
  • Poor real world fuel economy
  • Tiny boot in seven-seat mode

Read by

Land Rover Discovery Sport frontright exterior

Overall verdict

Land Rover Discovery Sport front interior

On the inside

Land Rover Discovery Sport frontright exterior

Driving

Land Rover Discovery Sport rear exterior

How much does it cost to run

Land Rover Discovery Sport boot open

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Land Rover Discovery Sport combines seven-seat versatility with really impressive off-road abilities, and premium styling inside and out. It’s comfortable and easy to drive, and doesn't pretend to be sporty, which we like. Still, it's not the last word in agility or fuel economy, and there are lingering questions about its reliability."

Land Rover Discovery Sport frontright exterior

The Land Rover Discovery Sport is a premium SUV with real go-anywhere ability, and the option to fit seven seats. Don’t be fooled by the ‘Sport’ in its title however, since this is a car that puts comfort and class-leading off-road capability well ahead of any pretensions of delivering a high octane driving experience.


Launched in 2015, the Discovery Sport replaced the Freelander and added seven-seat practicality and better refinement to Land Rover's medium-size SUV offering. But it wasn't until its mid-life update that the Discovery Sport felt like a true rival to the BMW X3. In 2019, it was given a proper set of major styling and mechanical upgrades, as well as a raft of visual tweaks inside and out. This refresh saw the introduction of mild-hybrid fuel saving technology on most of its engines, too. 


There are two standard engines to choose from, but unlike some rivals, they use four-cylinders, and not six. A 2.0-litre diesel model is available with either 150, 180 or 240PS, and all but the least powerful version are paired up with a smooth nine-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive system. As this car tips the scales at close to two tonnes, none of these feel especially fast, but the D180 has adequate grunt for most.


On the petrol side, there's a 2.0-litre turbo unit with either 200 or 249PS, both of which are near silent on the motorway, but lack the guts to make the best use of the automatic gearbox. If you drive them with gusto or when fully loaded, the mediocre fuel economy will also come as quite a shock.


For those keen to cut their fuel bills, Land Rover added a plug-in hybrid version badged as P300e, with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine and a 109PS electric motor. This is good for about 25 miles of electric driving, but comes with the usual caveats about charging, a high price, and unrealistic 168mpg claim.


On the road, the Discovery Sport won't shrink around you or hunker down like some sportier SUVs. Wearing its utility with pride, it handles like a large, heavy 4x4. So it leans over in the bends, and can be sensitive to poorly surfaced roads, but the precise control weights and planted, grippy sensation make it very reassuring.


There are four trim levels: the base Discovery Sport, S, SE, and HSE, in either standard or R-Dynamic guise. All come well equipped as standard though, with heated seats, a slick 10-inch touchscreen, LED headlights, cruise and climate control, and a reversing camera - although you need to upgrade to get leather or touchscreen navigation.


Almost every version comes with seven seats. However, Land Rover calls this seating layout ‘5+2’ because the third row is a pretty tight squeeze. However, the versatility they offer is unmatched by any premium rival, and in the sliding middle and front seats, this is one of the roomiest and most practical SUVs at this price.


The boot is excellent too, and while some non-premium rivals can carry even more luggage than the Land Rover's impressive 1794 maximum, none of these cars feel as nicely finished or robust as the Discovery Sport. It'll appeal to anyone with an overgrown sense of adventure, who doesn't mind paying extra for its capability.


Is the Land Rover Discovery Sport right for you?

Buying a Land Rover means you're the sort of person who might actually need some off-road capability. It's one of the few premium SUVs that's been engineered to genuinely excel once you leave paved surfaces.


It has excellent ground clearance, and some clever electronic aids to help tackle the rough stuff, and would be our first choice if you're the adventurous type with a hiking rucksack and a muddy pair of boots at home.


Luckily, this doesn't hamper its on-road performance, where it's a fairly quiet, relaxed motorway cruiser. The firm ride on larger wheels and some pronounced body lean do mean there are several sportier alternatives. 


Even though they are strictly for kids, having a third row of occasional seating gives the Discovery Sport an extra level of versatility normally found on MPVs, and only the Mercedes-Benz GLB offers similar passenger room.


It's best to choose one of these only if you're able to make use of its rugged and practical qualities, since you do pay a penalty in fuel economy for the extra weight of its seven seats and four-wheel drive paraphernalia.


What’s the best Land Rover Discovery Sport model/engine to choose?

There is a significant gap in price between what you'll pay for a front-wheel drive, manual Discovery Sport and the rest of the range, so think very carefully about what your individual needs before taking the plunge.


Still, without four-wheel drive, or seven-seat versatility, this version strips away the qualities that make this car stand out from its premium SUV rivals, and for that reason (plus the fact it's quite slow) it wouldn't be our pick.


Instead, most buyers should stretch up to the D180 diesel. It's not setting any speed records either, but will  require a lot less effort to get going, and is more relaxing to drive thanks to its standard automatic gearbox. While it's not as refined at the petrols in town, the everyday running costs are considerably more palatable, and unless you're a company car driver who has space to charge it at home, the PHEV will be far too pricey.


As for the specification, it's worth upgrading to at least the S trim. The leather upholstery and touchscreen navigation help the cabin feel really plush, and that still leaves you with a bit of cash leftover for a few choice options on top.


What other cars are similar to the Land Rover Discovery Sport?

For a similar price, a few big five-seater SUVs nail the on-road handling and interior luxury part of the brief with a level of finesse that this Land Rover can't quite match; leading that pack are the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.


If you're not too fussed by badge snobbery, the Skoda Kodiaq and Hyundai Santa Fe are worth a try. Both offer more space in the third row, are larger inside when fully loaded, coming with all the toys for less cash.


As for less obvious premium rivals, the Volvo XC60 and Lexus NX both bring something unique to the table. The former is one of the safest cars in this class, the latter a petrol-electric hybrid that's surprisingly frugal.


However, the Mercedes-Benz GLB is the only upmarket competitor to offer seating for seven. It feels more compact and car-like to drive on busy thoroughfares than the wide Discovery Sport. The design has some clever features, but it's unlikely to be able to tackle the kind of rough terrain the Land Rover can breeze over.


Learn more

Land Rover Discovery Sport front interior

On the inside

Land Rover Discovery Sport frontright exterior

Driving

Land Rover Discovery Sport rear exterior

How much does it cost to run

Land Rover Discovery Sport boot open

Prices, versions and specification

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

Is a Land Rover Discovery Sport bigger than an Evoque?

Yes. Although they share a lot of engineering and technology, the Discovery Sport is longer, taller, and comes with either five or seven seats, and it has more passenger and boot space.

Andy Brady

Answered by

Andy Brady

What is a Land Rover Discovery Sport?

Previously called the Freelander, the Discovery Sport is supposed to be more practical and comfort-oriented than its siblings wearing a Range Rover badge, but it’s still quite luxurious.

Dan Powell

Answered by

Dan Powell

Does a Land Rover Discovery Sport have seven seats?

Yes. In fact, most versions of the car come with seven seats, with only the front-wheel drive manual 148bhp diesel model getting five seats as standard, to help lower its CO2 emissions. However, Land Rover calls its seating layout ‘5+2’ because the third row is a tight squeeze.

David Ross

Answered by

David Ross

Is the Land Rover Discovery Sport a good car?

It’s comfortable, practical and better than most rivals if you do a lot of off-roading. Having seven seats makes it unusual, since most competitors only have space for five on-board. Still, there are cheaper alternatives if you’re willing to step away from a ‘premium’ brand.

Keith Moody

Answered by

Keith Moody

What is the Discovery Sport Landmark Edition?

A special edition of the pre-facelift Discovery Sport, the Landmark edition commemorates the 70th anniversary of the brand, and the fact that this is its best-selling model. It came in a choice of three colours; Grey, Black or White, with some choice visual upgrades as standard.

Russ Campbell

Answered by

Russ Campbell