- Financial benefits for fleet drivers
- Great off-road ability
- Practical, nice to drive and packed with techno treats
- The PHEV model is not on offer with seven seats
- Starting price is high compared to rivals
- The vehicle is only available in high-end R-Design specification
Land Rover is on an EV charge offensive with the Discovery Sport and Evoque the latest models to gain the plug-in hybrid treatment.
The models both carry the P300e title which reflects on the bhp on offer and they are built on an all-new Premium Transverse Architecture platform that was designed by Land Rover for its plug-in and mild hybrid vehicles.
With up to 34 miles of pure EV driving and attractive tax savings, the latest Disco Sport will certainly make business drivers sit up and take note.
The Discovery Sport P300e is only available in high-end R-Dynamic grade, but customers can then select between S, SE and HSE trim levels – all of which are generously equipped.
On The Road
The latest Discovery Sport joins its sibling, the Evoque, to offer the option of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technology which will be of great interest to fleet drivers or customers with a low mileage daily commute.
It is called the Discovery Sport P300e with the 300 figure referencing the bhp available from the turbocharged 1.5-litre three cylinder petrol engine and the 80kW electric motor.
The total power output of 309hp and 540Nm of torque produces some impressive performance stats with a 0-62mph sprint time of 6.6 seconds and a 130mph maximum speed. It can be driven at speeds up to 84mph using electric power alone.
As well as a completely new powertrain system, the car features a smooth new eight-speed transmission which is 5kg lighter than the nine-speed gearbox used in other models.
We tested the Discovery Sport P300e in R-Dynamic SE trim level. The vehicle pulls away in complete silence which takes a little getting used to with the petrol engine seamlessly joining in when required. The new gearbox is ultra-smooth and the driver can use paddles to shift through the gears manually.
The acceleration is sharp and constant which makes light work of overtaking slower moving vehicles. And the road holding is also confident and assured. With its fairly high-sided design, you will need to give tighter bends a little respect to avoid any body roll, but generally this is kept to a minimum.
The Discovery line-up has an unrivalled reputation when it comes to off-road ability and the latest Discovery Sport is equally accomplished despite the new PHEV technology.
The driver can to choose from four modes - Comfort, Sand, Grass-Gravel-Snow, Mud & Ruts. This can be done manually or you can select Auto and let the car decide what setting it should be in.
But there are extra modes on this vehicle called Hybrid, EV and Save. The Disco Sport starts up in the Hybrid mode, which is the default setting and offers the best economical combination of the electric motor and petrol engine working in tandem. The Save function allows you to hold back some of the pure EV range which is handy if you plan on driving through a Congestion Charge low emissions zone and the EV mode is for pure electric driving up to a maximum 34 miles.
Our test car was sitting on 20-inch alloy wheels which were just perfect for the ride quality. Go any larger and you run the risk of things becoming a tad wallowy into bends.
The car is quite a bit heavier than the traditional models, but it doesn’t feel hampered at all out on the open road where the three-pot engine is very lively and the Discovery Sport is beautifully responsive. Special mention to the nicely weighted steering too that offers good levels of feedback at all times.
The engine drives the front wheels and the electric motor powers the rear wheels which means there is full four-wheel drive when the systems work in tandem.
Approached from any angle, the Discovery Sport looks imposing and ready for any challenge. Despite the PHEV technology, the model looks virtually the same as the standard car apart from an extra filler cap where the vehicle can be plugged into a power source.
The same can be said inside the car too. There are a few extra buttons to control the hybrid functions and some extra data on the readouts, but generally it resembles a ‘normal’ Discovery Sport.
Eye-catching features in the R-Dynamic SE model include a shadow atlas grille with gloss black surround, R-Dynamic styled front and rear bumpers, premium LED headlights with signature daytime running lights, a titanium mesh trim finish, black gearshift paddles, ebony headlining and ambient lighting.
Our car also featured a black contrast roof (£610 extra), fixed panoramic roof (£1,120 extra), privacy glass (£420) and a few other optional extras.
The seats are upholstered in fine Ebony Grained leather and can be heated, and there is a really upmarket feel to the car despite its rough, tough nature and off-road capabilities.
Occupants are well protected from any engine, road surface or wind noise, although the three-cylinder engine gets a little more vocal when pushed hard. And the upgraded suspension system does a worthy job of smoothing out any bumps and dips along the way.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
Finding the perfect driving position within the Discovery Sport takes just a matter of seconds with 12-way powered seats and plenty of steering wheel adjustment.
The driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility thanks to the elevated seating position and all controls, dials and readouts are easy to operate on the fly.
To assist the driver there is a clever new innovation called ClearSight Rear View Mirror, which is a £525 optional extra on SE models and standard on HSE. The rearview mirror is transformed into an HD video screen at the touch of a button and this displays the images from a rear-facing camera positioned above the back window. That means that even with a trio of tall adults in the back of the car, the driver has a great view of anything going on behind the vehicle. Clever stuff.
On-board technology is plentiful and includes Land Rover’s latest Touch Pro infotainment set-up with smart screens and sharp graphic displays. Creature comforts include a pitch perfect sound system, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Bluetooth, a connected navigation system, wireless charging, climate control and lots more besides.
Another innovative feature that was introduced on the latest model and is standard on the Discovery Sport P300e is the smart Artificial Intelligence technology. This self-learning system recognises the driver from their key fob or phone and will set up their seat and steering preferences with the facility to store up to 10 profiles. Then after a few journeys, the clever system starts to remember the driver’s commonly dialled numbers, preferred temperature settings, media preferences and even massaging seat settings.
Space & Practicality
The Discovery Sport P300e is built on a new Premium Transverse Architecture platform designed by Land Rover specifically for its plug-in and mild hybrid technologies. All the hardware is cleverly packaged away beneath the cabin floor so it does not impact on interior space at all.
With that in mind, the boot, which has a powered tailgate, is well sized and can swallow 1,179 litres of kit - a capacity that increases to 1,794 litres with the rear seats dropped flat. Luggage ties will prevent fragile items from rolling around.
The door bins on the latest model have grown and there is also a larger 7.3-litre central cubby box. All in all, there is enough space to store 48 litres of smaller goodies within the car. This is an increase of 25 per cent compared to the outgoing model.
And in a day and age when we simply cannot be separated from our mobile devices, there are lots of connectivity options with numerous USB points along with a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot.
As well as all the off-road expertise, the Discovery Sport can tow a trailer or caravan weighing up to 1.6 tonnes which is less than the 2.0-tonne limit on all ICE engine models. And the Advanced Tow Assist, costing £355, helps to make towing easier and safer. The driver steers the trailer via a dial instead of the difficult counter-steering of the vehicle itself.
The wide opening rear door make it easy to access a child seat and the upright seating is also beneficial to anyone with mobility issues.
On the downside though, the Discovery Sport PHEV is only available as a five-seater, whereas models powered by traditional engines have room for seven occupants, so this car would not be suitable for larger families.
Fleet drivers up and down the country will be delighted to hear about the latest Discovery Sport as there are very attractive savings to be made thanks to the vehicle’s low emissions.
According to official figures under the stricter WLTP testing system, the Discovery Sport PHEV in R-Dynamic SE trim can achieve a combined 143.3-175.5mpg with carbon emissions of 44g/km. It’s those low emissions that will grab the attention of fleet drivers with great savings to be gained thanks to an 11 per cent Benefit in Kind company car tax rating.
Clearly those mpg figures would only be achieved if the vehicle was regularly driven in EV mode with little input from the petrol engine. But as the daily commute is estimated at about 18-19 miles and the Discovery Sport PHEV has an EV range of up to 34 miles, then it is quite feasible.
Running costs will be kept low if the car is charged regularly too. And there are various options for owners when it comes to powering up the vehicle.
The car has a Mode 2 cable which allows a full charge from a plug socket in 6 hours, 40 minutes. This is ideal for overnight charging when tariffs are often cheaper. In addition, faster Mode 3 charging via a 7kW domestic wallbox is possible and takes 1 hour 24 minutes to boost the battery from zero to 80 per cent. The quickest charging times are via a 32kW fast charger where 0-80 per cent can be achieved in just 30 minutes.
There is a smartphone app which allows customers to monitor the vehicle’s status and even pre-set charging times.
Our test car cost £48,430 but the price climbed to £57,205 due to the number of optional extras that were added. The vehicle is insurance group 41.
Quality & Reliability
Land Rover has an Above & Beyond logo and the Discovery Sport certainly lives up to that theory with proper 4x4 off-road ability. It’s a vehicle that can clamber over rocks, wade through streams, climb slippery banks and lean at death-defying angles in the process. It takes everything in its stride and while most owners will rarely put their vehicle through such extreme tests, it’s reassuring to know just how good the Discovery Sport is if push comes to shove.
However, Land Rover does have a rather unenviable reputation when it comes to reliability or rather lack of it. That said; in recent years the fleet of models in the company stable have seen a vast improvement in that department.
The interior of the vehicle is nicely designed with smart upholstery and practical materials that certainly look durable. And it’s worth noting too that the latest model boasts an upgraded front and rear suspension system thanks to the new architecture.
The Discovery Sport has a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty. And for added peace of mind, the battery is covered by a 60,000-mile, six-year warranty.
Safety & Security
The Discovery Sport is packed with safety features and driver aids to help protect occupants as well as other road users. When tested at launch back in 2014, it was awarded a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
The vehicle features anti-lock brakes, emergency brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, a driver condition monitor, lane keep assist, Isofix child seat fixtures, roll stability control, traction control, dynamic stability control, hill launch assist, low traction launch and a full suite of airbags.
The R-Dynamic SE model, as tested, also boasted traffic sign recognition and adaptive speed limiter, auto high beam assist, plus blind spot assist.
An optional Driver Assist Pack costing £2,160 added high speed emergency braking, a 360-degree surround camera, clear exit monitor, adaptive cruise control with steering assist, park assist, a 360-degree parking aid and rear traffic monitor. There was also an advanced tow assist system costing a further £355.
So it’s fairly safe to say that the newest Discovery Sport is packed to bursting with all the latest technology to keep you safe on the road.
And, of course, being from Land Rover stock, the Discovery Sport has all the off-road capabilities associated with the brand via the Terrain Response system. It can even wade up to depths of 600mm if needed.