2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE TD4 180 review

Rating: 8.0
$41,900 $49,830 Dealer
  • Fuel Economy
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The Land Rover Discovery Sport is a very impressive luxury SUV. Its options can get expensive, though, as evidenced by the HSE TD4 180 we've tested here.
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The 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE has never had to fight for the hearts and minds of buyers in the style stakes. That it is one of the more distinguished premium SUVs on the road isn’t in question and never has been from the minute it launched. We generally like it’s flexibility at CarAdvice too, not to mention it’s driveability and comfort.

What’s always been a bit of an issue for us as testers though, is something that manifests itself with just about every premium SUV in 2017 – options. More specifically, the price of them and the way they can add up in stupendous and very rapid fashion.

You’ve no doubt heard and read our thoughts on options pricing – not to mention the complexity of them – across numerous manufacturers and numerous models. Reckon we’re barking up the wrong tree when we say there’s too many and they cost way too much? Check this out…

Our Disco Sport HSE starts from $67,314 plus on-road and dealer costs. That in itself, seems reasonable enough, but if you’re looking at our test example and thinking how much you love the way it looks and the features it has, take note of what the options cost.

With said options added in, the starting price climbs to a headache inducing $85,954 before on-road and dealer costs. Yep, that’s right, $18,640 in options alone. That’s a whopping 28 per cent of the original starting price, added on top.

Those options, and their prices, include:

The $5150 Dynamic Exterior Pack, with dynamic exterior trim, Xenon headlights with LED signature, front fog lights, front parking aid, and 20-inch split five-spoke gloss-finish wheels.

There's also the $3400 Row 3 Pack with second row seats that slide and recline and split 60:40, 5+2 seating, climate control, high level cooling vents to row three, three USB inputs, and a steel spare wheel.

Want more? Try these items on: Adaptive Dynamics ($1910), Fixed panoramic roof ($1850), Infrared reflective windscreen head up display ($1550), Blind-spot monitor and reverse traffic detection ($1180), Surround camera system ($920), Heated and cooled front seats with heated rear seats ($640), Privacy glass ($620), InControl Apps ($550), Ebony headlining ($470), Heated steering wheel ($320), and Locking wheel nuts ($80)

Away from optional extras, standard equipment highlights include: Terrain Response, Hill Descent Control, electric power steering, Trailer Stability Assist, All Terrain Progress Control, Atlas Silver finish grille and side fender vents, front and rear valance in White Techno Silver, dual-zone climate control, cabin air quality sensor, configurable interior mood lighting, grained leather seating, electric seats with 10-way adjustment and driver and passenger memory, full suite of active driver assistance control, Meridian sound system with 10 speakers plus subwoofer, and two tone interior trim.

Exterior styling has always been a Disco Sport strong point, and this test model is no exception. Some love the black styling, some opine that it looks a bit cheap now that so many manufacturers are doing it, but I’d argue a premium SUV that will never see anything more gnarly than a gravel driveway, looks just about spot on with the black detailing seen here. There's no doubt this Discovery Sport is an attractive SUV.

For mine, the lighting design and execution is the most visually appealing styling point and it’s one of the first things you notice if you approach the Disco Sport on-road, especially at night. Makes you wonder why more manufacturers don’t have a strong lighting signature on all models.

The paint colour that wraps our test model is new for 2017 and listed as black, but catch it in the right light and there’s a beautiful blue metallic fleck that comes through. It’s understated, but classy and lends a high-end feel to the Disco Sport’s curved exterior.

You’d expect the cabin to feel equally premium and in this instance, the Discovery Sport delivers. I’ve always been a fan of Land Rover’s ‘command’ driving position, something the designers talk about repeatedly when they are explaining any new model. It’s an LR signature that means the driver sits high and mighty, with excellent forward visibility, limited blind spots and interference, and with a commanding view of the road/terrain ahead.

The seating position is just as valuable on-road as it is off- too, and it means you always feel well in control at all times. Extra tall drivers might feel like they are sitting a little too tall in the cabin, but there’s more than enough adjustment in the seat to get the driver’s pew right where you want it.

The seats themselves are excellent, supportive, just firm enough, and they didn’t once create any discomfort even when I spent a few hours behind the wheel without a stop. A run down the highway from Sydney to Albury proved their worth as comfortable road trip companions.

While the infotainment system works reliably, there’s something about the system that more than one CarAdvice tester described as ‘a little last generation’. It’s not a criticism per se, because everything works exactly as intended, but with brands like Audi and Mercedes-Benz taking the game forward as far as they have, the Land Rover system can’t quite match up.

It does work really well though, especially the Bluetooth phone connection which, in typical LR fashion, is easy to connect the first time and rock solid reliable after the fact. Callers on the other end reported crystal clear transmission and no glitches. Audio streaming is likewise faultless and the general usability of the control interface is easy to work out.

It’s into the second row and the luggage area, where the Disco Sport’s strong points start to make themselves most evident. There’s adult-sized legroom across the second row, meaning you can take teenage kids on longer road trips in comfort. USB inputs promise to keep the kids occupied as well and our test vehicle delivers vents for all three rows too, something some manufacturers overlook.

The luggage space is punctuated by the excellent (optional) third row seating, which is usable for adults on shorter drives and children for as long as the drive dictates. When not in use, the seats fold effortlessly flat down into the floor to open up a genuinely usable boot area. A family of mum, dad and two kids can easily be accommodated with enough gear for a family holiday, and this abundance of space is a feather in the cap of the Disco Sport’s real world practicality.

Under the stubby bonnet, you’ll find Land Rover’s 2.0-litre turbo diesel four-cylinder engine, which offers up 132kW at 4000rpm and a stout 430Nm at 1750rpm. Against the ADR fuel claim of 5.3L/100km we used an average of 8.7L/100km, but we did note the live fuel use dropping well into the sevens on the freeway. Touring range on the open road therefore, is impressive.

Around town, we found the diesel engine to be pretty much faultless up to 60km/h. The exceptionally smooth nine-speed automatic transmission helps here, but the engine itself is excellent. Likewise, my aforementioned extended highway run illustrated the smooth, unruffled nature of the powertrain once up to speed.

It’s getting there though, that is a bit of an issue. A number of CarAdvice testers found the four-cylinder to lack crucial punch down low and through the middle of the rev range, which won’t be evident all the time, but can be a pain when it is evident.

Going for a gap from rolling speed, turning across traffic, motoring up from 40-60km/h to 80-100km/h, those are the kinds of scenarios where the engine is left wanting. It’s not a slug, but in 2017, we’re accustomed to much more effortless power and torque from turbo diesel engines. Given this is a new generation engine, it should punch a lot harder than it does, in my opinion.

At this point, it’s worth noting the Disco Sport is by no means intended to be a race car of any kind, but when a heavyweight like the Range Rover Sport can get cranking like a scalded cat, the little brother does feel a little underdone.

That feeling seemed to be the case regardless of which driving mode we selected. Mess around with the modes and you’ll feel things sharpen up out of Eco, but there’s no significant change to the speed of your progress.

As we’ve noted in previous tests, the Disco Sport’s ride is as close to faultless as you’re likely to get, seemingly regardless of how large the wheel diameter. Our test HSE rolls over Sydney’s pockmarked road network completely unruffled and that sense of calm is never affected. A comfortable, sure-footed ride is a vital piece of the premium SUV puzzle and the Discovery Sport does it better than just about all of them.

The ride plays its part in delivering a sense of calm inside the cabin at any speed. Road noise is kept to a minimum, there’s barely any wind noise at all – even at 110km/h on the freeway – and occupants are free to enjoy a conversation or their choice of music in comfort. That cosseted cabin insulation is something Land Rover has done so well for so long, and its something buyers no doubt expect every time they step into an LR product for a test drive.

In isolation, there’s absolutely no doubt the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport is a premium, flexible SUV at this end of the market. The seven-seat option especially is a major selling point for a lot of buyers. There is more than one caveat to counter the appeal though.

With the stratospheric price of the options added to our test model, it begs the question why you wouldn’t stretch to an entry level Range Rover Sport (more so for those buyers using finance), or try to snap up a last of the generation Land Rover Discovery before they are all gone.

That said, the Discovery Sport still appeals for the reasons it did at launch and has continued to since. A compact exterior, spacious cabin, and quality appointments make for a premium ownership and driving experience. It cuts a stylish figure on the road too, something that’s hard to put a value on, but is priceless to buyers spending this kind of money.