Land Rover 2015 Discovery Sport Si4 SE review

Land Rover 2015 Discovery Sport Si4 SE review

It’s not often that we get the opportunity to take a press vehicle further than the city limits, but a recent business trip to Palmerston North and Wellington, allowed us to spend a couple of days at the wheel of a new Discovery Sport Si4 SE, before delivering it to the Wellington Land Rover dealer.

Land Rover have fitted the 177kW/340Nm 2-litre petrol direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine from the Range Rover Evoque to the Discovery Sport, and it is coupled to a nine-speed automatic transmission, and an intelligent all-wheel-drive system, which will run in front-wheel-drive mode for extended periods to enhance fuel efficiency when required.

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport rearCombined fuel economy is quoted at 8.3L/100km and we managed to get into the 7L/100km range, admittedly only with one person and very little luggage on board!

Interesting enough, Land Rover charge the same retail price ($82,000) for the SD4 SE which is fitted with the 140kW/420Nm 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine.

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport WellingtonFor long distance travel such as the run from Auckland to Wellington down SH1, the turbocharged petrol engine is terrifically smooth, quiet, and frugal. The nine-speed gearbox makes the most of the engine’s mid-range torque to pull you past slower traffic with ease when overtaking and then quickly settles back into top gear for economy.

The Si4 SE test car pictured here was 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport interior f1painted in Phoenix Orange premium paint ($1400) and was also kitted out with the 19-inch Black Design pack with Contrast Roof ($2100).

But the Rugby World Cup sponsorship decals as pictured on our test vehicle are not an optional extra thankfully.

It took a little while to get used to the striking combination of the Orange with the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport interior f2black contrast roof, and gloss black 19-inch ‘Style 521’ alloy wheels, especially as the black pack also includes painting out the front grille and fender vents in Narvik Black, as well as door mirror caps.

But when you see the contrast of a Black Pack car against a ‘standard’ version with lashings of chrome and aluminium, you begin to understand why the Discovery Sport is the start of a new direction for Land 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport consoleRover in the compact SUV market.

Jaguar Land Rover Design chief Gerry McGovern (who had shoulder-length curly hair in the mid 1990s and also designed the pretty but flawed MG-F sports car, both of which we’ll forgive him for) says the new Discovery Sport offers a premium feel without pretension.

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport 2nd row seatsHe’s absolutely right – even though the vehicle on test came with the usual charcoal interior that most New Zealand distributors choose for local consumption (because it hides the dirty marks better), the Ebony/Ebony colour combination in the Discovery Sport coupled with the satin brushed aluminium centre stack side rails, does have a premium feel to it.

I liked the simplicity of the layout and how the controls were intuitive and easily used. 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport third row seatsDare I say it, but McGovern’s interior design team seem to have taken a leaf out of the book of Volvo interior design, its clean, unpretentious, and feels almost hewn from stone. Nothing rattles or feels cheap and nasty.

Unlike the more utilitarian Land Rover Freelander (another McGovern design) which it has replaced, the new Discovery Sport is even more family-friendly and its geared to a market that demands more than just the traditional off-road values of Land Rover.

I can see the staunch Defender die-hards shaking their heads already. It gets better (or worse) depending on your point of view.

For example there are at least six USB outlets amongst the three rows of seats to enable people to power their mobile devices. The colour TFT driver information centre works well and the navigation and communication functions are easily used. The Bluetooth system is simple and quick to pair a phone to, and you don’t need to speak to the voice activation system with a plummy British accent for it to understand your requests.

Calling up the ‘old trout’ while on the move was never easier.

Other safety and convenience features includes lane departure warning, autonomous emergency brake system, daytime running lights, and a rear parking aid with rear view camera.

The new Discovery Sport offers a flexible 5 + 2 seating arrangement, which allows 981 litres of space with five seats in place, or a whopping 1698 litres of space with all rear seats folded flat. The middle row seats can also slide forward and back to make life easier for those using the third row.

Land Rover offer a huge array of options for this vehicle for people with active lifestyles, including roof racks, luggage organisers, roof rails, bike carriers, roof boxes, rubber cargo mats, and there is even a optional slide out tailgate seat, from which to watch the polo match or the game of cricket.

But this car wouldn’t be a proper Land Rover without the ability to get off-road and thanks to the Terrain response system, coupled with hill descent control and wade sensing, it can and will take people far away from the tarmac.

It’s because of the sum of its abilities that the new Land Rover Discovery Sport has also been chosen as a top ten finalist in the New Zealand Car of the Year Awards.

The winner will be announced in Auckland on December 9 by the New Zealand Motoring Writers Guild and the NZAA.

Price: $82,000

Pros:

  • Fast, frugal, great fun to drive
  • Capable on highway and off
  • Great design all around

Cons:

  • Adult proof third row seating

Words and New Zealand pictures:

Interior pictures: Newspress UK/Land Rover

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