By: Jag Dhatt
When a company like Land Rover builds a new SUV that has legendary off-road capability and then matches it with an aggressive price that will make buyers of Honda or Toyota take notice, you’ve got people’s attention. The 2016 Discovery Sport replaces the outgoing LR2 and in my humble opinion, thank God! Land Rover’s newest SUV is a much better representation of the company’s styling, engineering, and status that the LR2 didn’t have. Not too long ago, I was handed the keys to the Discovery Sport and after just one week, my wife and I were thoroughly impressed.
Let’s start with the most obvious – pricing. We all know that Jaguar Land Rover didn’t have the most budget friendly pricing, until now. The 2016 Discovery Sport starts at just $41,790, while the HSE Luxury is priced at $50,290. If we’re making comparisons, these are numbers just slightly above a Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4. In the same breath, the Disco Sport is on par with the Europeans, namely the Audi Q5, BMW X3, and Volvo XC60. In fact, a neighbour of mine talked to me about his next potential purchase, which was going to be a CR-V, and I told him about the Discovery Sport. After a visit to the JLR dealer and test drive, he forgoes the Honda and buys the Disco Sport HSE Luxury, complete with the Black Design Package. Who would have thought?
When looking at any piece of art or décor, it’s always subjective. My wife and I really liked the look of the Disco Sport, but there is a disclaimer. Unless you’re on a really tight budget, get the HSE Luxury with the Black Design Package because it makes all the difference in the world. Sure, the base SE looks good, but it’s like looking at a piece of art on canvas, without the elegant finished frame. Our test vehicle was finished in beautiful Firenze Red, complete with contrast Santorini Black roof and 20” Five Split-Spoke Gloss Black wheels. Big bold “Discovery” badging, on front and back, was also in black. This latest Land Rover feels right at home, whether going off-road, through mud, or to a corporate business meeting.
In addition to the aggressive pricing of the new Disco Sport, another big surprise is the interior, with respect to materials, styling, and space. Being a Land Rover, you’d expect the interior to be well-furnished and for the most part it is. The cabin is well designed and with the HSE Luxury package, you pretty much have all the bells and whistles: panoramic sunroof, climate front and heated rear seats, 3-zone climate control, and of course, a multitude of safety systems. Land Rover could have done a better job in choosing better hard plastic materials on the door panels and upper dash, as they don’t match up to, let’s say, the Audi or BMW. Also, if we’re getting picky, the 5” colour TFT driver information centre is a little small – some design elements could have been changed to have it a tad larger. However, the 8” infotainment screen is bright and nicely placed. Now, if you can look beyond these minor quirks, be amazed by the cavernous interior.
The interior of the Discovery Sport is surprisingly spacious, for both people moving and cargo space – you’d never imagine if you just looked at the outside. In Canada, 5-seating is standard, but for $1900 more, the “5 + 2” is available, and highly recommended, in case you ever needed them. Front and second row seats are quite comfortable, and fully adjustable. I’m 5’11” and I had no trouble at all sitting in either row. Just for testing, my friend who is 6’4”, found the front two rows to be quite comfortable, with plenty of shoulder and headroom. The back row should be reserved for smaller people or young kids – period. Another point to add here is that if you’re occupying all 7 seats, you can forget the cargo space, save for some minor bags. However, with the third row folded, there’s enough space (981 liters, in fact) in the cargo area to haul quite a bit.
Even though the Disco Sport replaces the LR2, it will most likely be compared with the Range Rover Evoque. Power for this SUV comes from the same 2.0L, turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine found in the Evoque. With 240 hp, there’s plenty of power for most all urban and suburban conditions; however, it doesn’t have the oomph that you feel in the Evoque. The 9-speed ZF transmission is excellent though, as is the Disco’s all wheel drive system, and we’d expect nothing less. And how can we not mention the Terrain Response system, which has settings for sand, snow, rock, and mud. This system automatically adjusts the drive system, throttle response, and traction control to ensure the best traction and performance on any surface.
Both my wife and I found the Disco Sport quite comfortable to drive, and more importantly, she felt reassured knowing that she’s driving a vehicle that will keep our family safe. Our three daughters were comfortable in the 2nd rows seats and didn’t feel the need to keep pushing each other. Not that we ever will need it, but knowing that the Disco Sport can also wade through almost two feet of water is kind of cool. Around town, parking the SUV was easy, especially with the surround-view camera. For a family like ours, honestly, I couldn’t find too much to fault with the Disco. We really liked it.
When I first spoke to Ryan Muir, JLR’s Western Market Manager, last year, he had told me that the new Discovery Sport would bridge the gap between the Evoque and the LR4. “I think the Discovery Sport will be a hot seller,” he had said. Initially I had my doubts, but after spending a week with the Disco Sport, I think he nailed it. This could become Land Rover’s best selling model in Canada.