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Land Rover Discovery Sport - Good value, practical SUV

18.05.2016

Ultimately this is the Freelander's replacement, a car that Land Rover doesn't like to mention all that often because of its troubled history.

So they've changed the name to Discovery Sport, given it a styling overhaul and jobs a good'un. Or is it?

On the outside

There's a lot more Discovery to this Discovery Sport, which sounds obvious but remember that underneath they share absolutely nothing in common. The taillights look a bit manga (Japanese cartoon) for my liking but overall the shape is clean and quite appealing.

Where exactly the 'Sport' part of the name fits into the styling cues I'm not quite sure. There aren't any go faster bits like you might see on a Range Rover Sport, for example. So that's a bit puzzling.

On the inside

Badging something as a Discovery does sort of imply that you're going to be playing on the same level as the real thing. Unfortunately that isn't the case when you hop inside the Sport. The centre dashboard area is particularly poor in both look and feel, while various other areas of the cabin have a less than premium quality to them. 

In terms of features you get Land Rover's touch screen display system that houses everything from navigation to park assist cameras. It's nice enough but nothing to write home about.

The Sport's big selling point however is the addition of a third row of seats. This is something I can't quite emphasise enough. Nothing else in the premium SUV market has seven seats at the price point of the Discovery Sport. They might not be seats worthy of a full size human, but will easy house anything below a young teenager.

Behind the wheel

Under the relatively short bonnet sits a 2.2-litre turbodiesel unit sourced from Ford. It's been around a while and was in fact used in the old Freelander and is also used in the Range Rover Evoque.

Producing 140kW and 420 torques it's quite punchy, albeit let down by the sluggish 9-speed auto 'box. If you can live with a dopy gear change the Sport is nice and comfy on the road as you'd expect from a Land Rover and actually doesn't feel like too much of a boat. Again, where the 'Sport' part of the name fits in I'm not sure.

Land Rover has thrown their dumbed down version of terrain response into the Sport. An electronically controlled locking centre differential is left to try make the Sport handle off-road conditions, which it does admirably (aided by traction control at the individual wheels of course). Unfortunately if it's the bundu's in which you like to holiday you'll find this Discovery sorely lacking. It comes nowhere close to living up to its big brothers off-road ability, so you best stick to nothing tougher than undulating dirt tracks.

Pricing

At R650,000 a premium SUV with seven seats is likely to fly off the shelves, because there is no competition. In fact it competes with seven seater Hyundai's and Kia's at that price.

Verdict

I wish Land Rover had called the Discovery Sport something else. It's off-road prowess doesn't live up to the Discovery brand, and it's by no means sporty. The lacklustre interior is also disappointing but otherwise it's a nice car and offers surprisingly good value considering its practicality.

Article written by Miles Downard
18.05.2016
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