It was introduced in 2014 and don’t be fooled by its name. It is still a Freelander, compact luxury SUV, it’s just that British are conducting some sweeping with brand monikers. Same as Ranger Rover Sport is not the sporty version of Ranger Rover, yet smaller one, this is not racy Discovery in that sense also. In the end, we had two sub-brands, Discovery for versatility and Range Rover for classiness. Same as Freelander was an interesting choice in the segment, so is his successor and after almost three years, 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport still has plenty to offer in battling its numerous rivals.
While the second generation of Freelander was design evolution of the first, third-generation or our Discovery Sport was not a continuation of the same story. Some new design trends have evolved in the meantime, and new Disco had to follow them. The job was well done, and its fascia is in clear resemblance of all other siblings while carrying enough of its own personality. The rear end is less interesting as with new Discovery, but they both play on practicality card, leaving posh to Range Rovers. Overall, indifferent feelings about its tail leave us in buffer zone about general visual impression.
2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport Interior
The tail story transcends itself on the cabin. Yes, materials are nice when touched, everything is solidly put together, much better than before, but the style is just lacking any buzz or emotions. We don’t expect it to be alluring as Evoque’s one, although they share same class, but even bigger and way more rugged new Disco received much more lavish treatment, leaving our Sport model as black sheep within the lineup. Tech part is decent with 8-inch or optional 10-inch screen of the quite intuitive infotainment system. The bigger display is not just larger, it features much better graphic and its way faster in use making it worth of extra bucks.
Under the hood is where Freelander never shined and neither will Sport version. It goes against traditional German trio here and few other models. Vehicles like Macan and F-Pace put all they got in driving joy, so even if it tries really hard, it will still lag behind. And honestly, it hasn’t even tried. There are no diesel options for the US, so only one petrol engine is available. That would be the 2.0-liter I4 turbo gasoline unit delivering 240 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, which paired with nine-speed automatic hurls it to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds. Maybe “hurls” is a bit exaggerated as it is, on the average, a whole second less than rivals. Fuel economy is not anything special either with 22 mpg combined.
IS THERE ANYTHING GOOD?
Yes, there is, and plenty of it. Sport, as well as past Freelander, is not proper 4×4, as it’s not placed on a ladder frame, it doesn’t carry solid axle at the back, doesn’t have locking differential and let alone separate lockers for each axle plus its off-roading angles are not mind blowing. And yet, it is tremendously capable in nature compared to any crossover rival, matched only by Jeep Cherokee. It gives everything that is good with crossover part, in terms of comfort and luxury and yet it will provide something from proper SUV world.
No amount of nature hazards can stop it in a civilized part of the countryside, as Terrain Response system and All-Terrain Progress Control do their job, while in the same time it rides well on tarmac dismissing any notion of body roll followed by precise steering. It’s not plush in the ride as Ranges, and you should leave the forest to Disco, but this would be perfect middle ground. And about the cabin, apart from design, everything else is more than good about it. The second bench can slide, even when divided, and there is third one available and due to the boxy shape you can stuff more in the boot than numbers on the paper suggest, making it more versatile than any premium offer out there.
2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport is far from the perfect product. It lacks style, interior lavishness and acceleration times of most of its rivals, and yet it gives something that none of them does. If you want posh and dynamic, there is plenty to choose from, but if you want capability and versatility, there is only one premium choice.