On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to have been much change for the Discovery Sport as Land Rover designers and engineers preformed a mid-life nip-and-tuck. But, as we all know, looks can be deceptive and that’s especially so in this case. In fact, as ‘refreshes’ go, this is about as extensive as one can get – new Disco Sport really is very new and very refreshed.
At the heart of the upgrade is the fact that this version of the Sport is based on LR’s Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA), which was first used to develop the second-gen Range Rover Evoque. The upshot of this platform change is that the Sport features mild-hybrid EV powertrains from launch and later this year a plug-in hybrid derivative will also be offered.
The PTA underpinnings also allow for a stiffer body – by 13% – better versatility and far greater refinement, the latter coming partly from rigidly mounted subframes that reduce noise and vibration into the cabin.
Having spent two full days with the new Disco Sport in and around the gorgeous, scene-setting Yorkshire Dales region of England, it’s easy to see what impact these engineering changes have had on Land Rover’s best-seller. As compact SUVs go, it’s dynamic, capable and responsive – probably the industry benchmark now, in fact. Our Sport was the D180 AWD SE, which has an Ingenium 2.0 diesel under the bonnet, pushing exactly the power one needs – 180ps at 4,000rpm and 430Nm torque from 1,500rpm to 3,000rpm. Making things all the smoother is an updated 9-speed ZF transmission that also brings in a further 2% fuel economy improvement.
And while diesel has been unjustly demonized by some governments, pressure groups and consumers of late, JLR’s Ingenium family is up there with the very best of them – four-pots from BMW, VW Group, Daimler and Volvo. Not only is it capable in a performance sense, it’s quiet and refined. During our Yorkshire Dales lark, we easily averaged mid-late 30s-mpg. Emissions are rated at 150g/km CO2.
But as impressive as new Disco Sport is on-road, off-road it takes things to a whole new level. Let there be no doubt that in this class, Sport is the benchmark when it comes to taking on challenging terrain, deep waters and unnatural angles, slopes and climbs for a thing with four wheels. This new-found capability comes from the fact that Disco Sport is all-wheel drive and, just as importantly, it gets Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 technology with four hugely impressive modes – comfort, sand, grass-gravel-snow, and mud and ruts. There’s also Hill Descent Control, All-Terrain Progress Control and ClearSight Ground View, which effectively provides a virtual 180° view beneath the front wheels when tackling uneven terrain.
Another impressive result of these huge mid-life engineering changes to New Discovery Sport is that it’s one of the first Land Rovers to offer a Real Driving Emissions Stage 2 certified engine, ahead of the legislation becoming mandatory later this year.
And all that advanced engineering comes with a state-of-the-art interior and premium cabin that incorporates a practical 5+2 seating layout.