Land Rover’s best selling model – the Discovery Sport – gets a mid-life upgrade, with new hybrid tech teasing an upcoming electric model before the end of the year.
Yes, really. Don’t let that familiar looking outer shell fool you. There’s an updated, ‘more Range Rover’-esque quality cabin and new LED lighting, and the dimensions are near identical, the new Discovery Sport sitting sharing the same 2,741mm wheelbase and 2,069mm width as its predecessor, but underneath Land Rover’s biggest selling model, there have been significant upgrades to the available drivetrain options, platform and on-board tech.
Like Range Rover’s new Evoque, the updated Discovery Sport now sits on JLR’s new, more flexible Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA). This allows the new Disco to be 13 percent stiffer than its predecessor while simultaneously reducing noise and vibration levels on the move.
“Underneath Land Rover’s biggest selling model, there have been significant upgrades to the available drivetrain options, platform and on-board tech.”
Designed with electrification mind (JLR aims to have electrified versions of its entire fleet available by 2020), the PTA also allows for a 48V mild-hybrid system as standard with automatic transmissions. First debuted on the new Evoque, the system harvest energy during deceleration via a generator and stores it in an “under-floor battery”. At speeds below 17kph, the engine shuts off entirely when the driver applies the brakes, the stored energy being used thereafter to assist acceleration, reducing C02 levels and improving fuel efficiency for the Discovery Sport’s ‘Ingenium’ four-cylinder engines up to 6.9l/100km. That’s city centre hatchback territory. Not bad for a premium SUV that still weighs the best part of two tons.
Speaking of the engines, the combustion side of the Discovery Sport’s line up include two petrol models and three diesel, power ranging from 197bhp and 247bhp in the former, while the latter is offered in 148bhp, 178bhp and 237bhp levels of grunt. Performance likewise ranges from a leisurely 11.4-second 0-100kph sprint to a more enthusiastic 7.6 seconds at the sharp end of the drivetrain line-up.
All models bar the FWD manual diesel option come as standard with an updated nine-speed automatic transmission, and Land Rover has stated that a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) will arrive before the end of the year, one that will pair an electric motor with a three-cylinder petrol engine.
Few customers will buy the Discovery Sport for its handling capabilities though, clever packaging once again proving the Sport’s raison d’etre. Despite being 2mm shorter than before (oh the humanity!), the new Discovery still offers seven seats –admittedly the rear bench won’t hold too many adults in supreme comfort – is 3mm taller, and still offers enough space to include a larger fuel tank with enough room for hybrid tech. Tech, by the by, has been poured in via the proverbial bucket. At the flick of a switch, the conventional rear-view mirror becomes a digital display relaying an image from a roof-mounted camera providing a wider angled, less obstructed rear view. Perhaps more notable is ClearSight, a system first introduced on the Evoque that allow drivers to ‘look through’ the bonnet and see the position of the wheels when off-road or when parallel parking. It would be a shame to scuff or ding those new 21in alloys, after all.
The order books are already open, with prices starting from around $40K for the standard D150 diesel, while the fully loaded R-Dynamic HSE P250 will come in closer to the $61,500 mark.
Engine: Inline 4cyl, twin-scroll turbo, 1,997cc
Power: 249PS @ 5,500rpm
Torque: 365Nm (269lb ft) @ 1,400-4,500rpm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Suspension: Macpherson Strut with Passive Anti-Roll bar (front), Integral Multi-link with Passive Anti-Roll bar (rear)
Weight (DIN): 1,864kg
0-100kph: 7.6 secs
Top speed: 225kph (139mph)
*P250, R-Dynamic HSE only