Our time is up with the 2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport.
Over the course of the loan, we set out to answer some questions:
- Is family life better with an SUV?
- Does the Land Rover do what it says on the tin? (As in, tackle off-road?)
- Does it live up to the premium nature of the brand?
That last question, I plan to address here in our wrap-up.
'Premiumness', or how premium something feels, is such a subjective, qualitative measure. Many have their own interpretations of what they officially slot into this category, regardless of what it is that we're talking about. It could be wine, cars, intangible things like experience, clothes, as a few that swiftly come to mind.
Things like brand perception, which is closely linked to perceived quality, actual quality, physical attributes of the car, its comparative functionality to others of less cost, are all things that we at CarAdvice take into account quite seriously when brandishing this term around the office.
I believe the Land Rover Discovery Sport, overall, does convey this ever-elusive sense. I'll caveat that point with two things. The first is that I believe this is the case when a Discovery Sport is equipped as ours is, and the second is that it doesn't get there unscathed. There are still some simple, fundamental issues letting down the whole experience.
First cab off the rank is its kerb appeal or visual clout. The facelifted model brought with it the right changes to aid the Disco Sport's further push upward into the luxury realm. It owes the majority of this leap forward to its newly redesigned headlights and tail-lights.
The previous model had rather dorky, large headlights that channelled too much previous-gen Freelander than it needed to. Its old circular daytime running lights were reminiscent of a pair of goggles, or bug eyes, which to me dated the car quite rapidly.
This new model takes its approach from a design playbook containing sharper, more svelte cues usually reserved for its sibling brand of more worth – Range Rover.
New technologies mean the headlights have now been slimmed. It first appears odd that you can now get tiny light-emitting diodes to do a better job than the old, large bulb-type headlights of yesteryear. But this point makes it look expensive. It also increases the modernity of its overall appearance, and feeling high-tech in the process.
Cut those tiny headlights with even more dynamic-looking sharp light signatures, and you're halfway there to lifting the presence this car has at first glance.
I mentioned before that the very specification of our Disco Sport remains quite crucial in why it feels expensive, or being able to pull off the whole 'private school car park' thing.
Our car, as an R-Dynamic, gets body-coloured cladding. Again, an SUV trait that's not overly common in the mainstream section. Small design strokes such as this give more sense and scale. Call it impact.
It also gives more room for its fantastic Namib Orange paintwork to do the talking. Packaging up this hue with the R-Dynamic's contrasting rear garnish, alongside the 'all black everything' options of darkened badging, roof and wheels, results in something that looks wildly more expensive than a regular version with zero options ticked.
Some may feel that the Disco Sport's inherent design yells enough from a soapbox to make its fancy cause known, which is a fair observation to make. But with the speeding up of trickle-down tech, the mainstream also benefits from the same empowerment this car did during its facelift.
However, it's more the handful of unique stylistic options Land Rover offers that helps set the Disco Sport apart. Some of which you must pay extra for the privilege of.
As a recap, a P250 R-Dynamic is priced from $71,232 before on-roads. Our car's orange paint costs $2020, its black 20-inch Style 5089 wheels $1300, and its optional black fit-out $2510.
Vanity sells, and it's a fair commodity to trade with.
What does subtract from the initial heavy lifting the exterior does for its premium nature is a lack of equipment. There is absolutely nothing good, fun or enjoyable, let alone premium, about paying $900 for keyless entry on a $71K car. Nor $400 for digital radio. I'd go so far as arguing that the $350 optional cooling air vents for the third row also sting.
What a place to be in as a brand trying to take it to the big three from across the channel. To undermine this very unique selling point by charging for third-row air vents, in a country known for frequent high ambient temps, is daft.
Maybe I'm missing something from the premium realm, which is that paying more for what you ought to have in the first place is in itself luxury. Satire aside, it brings the overall experience down a notch. Although, overall interior quality, fit and finish do well to lighten the mood.
Land Rover has done away with the acres of dust-attracting, fingerprint-magnifying gloss-black plastic in exchange for what it calls 'titanium mesh'. It's a really fine metal trim that's quite ornamental and dainty. The three-dimensional qualities of this trim, located on the dashboard and doors, again feel luxurious, and better than the usual stuff found inside upper mainstream and some other truly premium cars.
The same story goes for the material used to clad the dashboard. Sure enough it's pleather, but it has a neat diamond-shaped embossing complete with small crosshair incisions. It again feels crafted, detailed, intricate, and therefore likely expensive.
Soft-touch plastics and materials make their way down to the lowest parts of the centre console, too, where you'll never, ever touch them. Excess to some, luxurious to others.
First perceptions arouse suspicions of quality. Careful inspection reveals that to be the case.
In contrast to the ornate is the minimal approach to the centre stack and switchgear. Controls, such as the large circular pair of dials, triple in their usage. They control temperature, seat heating, as well as either fan speed or terrain management depending on which one of the pair you're fiddling with.
The rest of the buttons that are not physical are capacitive touch-sensitive. So smooth and flat. I usually do prefer tactility in my switches, but will happily take these touchscreen-like buttons if they're related to functions that are rarely used.
So consider it irritating that the fan position switch – something I personally use more often than I probably should – remains as one of those tricky to use, touch-sensitive switches. This makes it difficult to use while driving, and more so when you realise that after managing to press it while on the move, via vague gestures toward its general location on the dashboard, you then have to select on the touchscreen where you want the fan output to come from.
It isn't a toggle switch, as first assumed. Annoying.
Despite my digressions on how basic attempts of 'premiumisation' can overwhelmingly burden ergonomics, overall, you do get your dollars-and-cents' worth of luxury.
The lack of sound ingress into the cabin is another premium stepping stone the Land Rover carefully hops over. Isolation from exterior noise is high, and once you're off and moving it becomes more noticeable again.
Interruptions are far and few in between. It's a nice place to reside, commute in, or simply remain stationary as your better half exits to complete something you'd rather not be a part of.
Touching on alone time, I conducted a decent drive up north, and felt that the seats supported my body well enough to help manage fatigue. The paper-white micro-suede trim is not likely to suit many, despite it bringing a wonderful sense of brightness to the cabin.
I've covered off my thoughts on how the seat material fared in a previous story, and in the video at the top of this story, too, so I won't dwell on the topic too much. The crux of the gripe is if you want them, just be prepared to maintain them.
Fuel economy was the only other concern we had, which I outlined at the beginning of this loan. The ZF nine-speed automatic revs too high, and its shift points are set later than they ideally should be.
It affected fuel consumption, with the trip computer's average showing a figure of 12.5L/100km over a distance of 3279km. This real-world figure is over four litres higher than the official combined figure. Usually, we expect a deviation of half of that. Therefore, this point remains one of the more disappointing parts of our experience.
The engine is strong, though, showing solid performance despite its small displacement and diminutive four-cylinder format. Its efficiency tech, namely a lazy stop-start system, does jade the otherwise smooth and responsive nature of this particular engine.
It's just a shame that it doesn't borrow more of its calibration from the Evoque, where this same powertrain feels a lot better. It's also proof that the fundamentals are not to blame, more the execution with this particular model.
The other skeleton in the closet worth unearthing is that the passenger's side camera stopped working towards the end of the loan. That doesn't pose too much of an issue, as the car has a warranty, but it was still unexpected.
Be sure to check out the video, as both of my colleagues, Trent Nikolic and Sam Purcell, took the time out of their days to also share some commentary on how they feel about the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
To conclude, it certainly feels premium enough for the price tag. It also facilitated family life well, enabled us to do more, and genuinely helped us through what are challenging times at present.
In the small window of opportunity that we did get, it also delighted with some big spirits off-road. Tackling soft beach conditions without too much holding it back, that little escapade put to bed any bandwagon views that posh SUVs can't leave the bitumen.
You'll find the usuals here, too – a great second row, excellent hip points for those who need them, and modern safety tech – but we've come to expect that from this segment.
If your family is considering a new car, and your budget stretches close to $70K, then I'd safely assume you're already well aware of the Discovery Sport. However, consider your requirements carefully.
After some deep thought, if having a pair of occasional seats, a huge boot, and some ability on light off-road duties begins to spark something, then proceed to your Land Rover dealer for a test drive.There isn't much else truly as luxurious and premium at this price point that can lay claim to such novelties.
They go on to make the Discovery Sport a jack-of-all-trades, an excellent all-rounder, and well suited to play the role of family car.
I'd be lying if I said it wasn't missed by a few at CarAdvice.
MORE: Long-term report one: Introduction
MORE: Long-term report two: Is family life better with an SUV?
MORE: Long-term report three: Going off-road
MORE: Discovery Sport news, reviews, comparisons and videos
MORE: Everything Land Rover