The 2020 update includes a stiffened body to reduce noise and vibration. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
The 2020 update includes a stiffened body to reduce noise and vibration. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

Earlier this year Land Rover introduced a midlife upgrade to its entry-level range, the Discovery Sport, and made quite a song and dance about optional new technological toys like a “see through” bonnet and a digital rear view mirror.

These extra-cost items were curiously missing from the Discovery Sport D180 that came our way for a road test, but the new ClearSight Ground View feature sounds like a good option for owners who plan to go offroading.

It’s a clever trick that uses cameras to project a 180° view beneath the vehicle onto the cabin touchscreen — essentially creating a “see through” bonnet which helps drivers navigate rough terrain when offroading, or even high kerbs when driving in the city.

Another new ClearSight feature — also optional — is a digital rear view mirror that transforms into a video screen at the flick of a switch to display a high definition view behind the vehicle. It offers a wider field of vision and better visibility in low light conditions, without the view being hindered by rear passengers or bulky cargo in the boot.

Owners of an adventurous disposition can also tick the Activity Key options box. It’s a wearable waterproof wristband that allows the vehicle to be locked and unlocked without using the traditional keyfob.

All of these toys were missing from the test car, but the interior has also been revamped as part of the vehicle’s 2020 facelift and it’s a noticeable improvement. It uses more premium-looking materials along with soft-touch surfaces and contrast stitching to give the cabin a luxurious feel, and even though it’s Land Rover’s junior range the Discovery Sport doesn’t skimp on affluence.

A third row of seats is optionally available to make this SUV into a seven-seater. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
A third row of seats is optionally available to make this SUV into a seven-seater. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

Land Rover’s smallest vehicle is also surprisingly spacious, and its 4,597mm length accommodates a family-sized cabin with stretch-out room for full-sized adults. The family practicality is enhanced with back seats that can be individually adjusted for legroom and backrest angle.

The rear seat backrests individually flip down at the flick of a button to expand an already generously-sized boot, and an electrically operated tailgate makes for user-friendly operation.

A third row of seats is optionally available to make this SUV into a seven-seater.

The infotainment is a touchscreen system that’s fairly intuitive to operate, with smartphone integration, built-in navigation and an abundance of USB and 12V points.

Our test vehicle developed a glitch in that the memory settings of the electric seats, climate control and infotainment system were all wiped clean every time we locked the vehicle, and we had to reconfigure personal settings each time.

The infotainment is fairly intuitive to operate, and there’s an abundance of USB and 12V points. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
The infotainment is fairly intuitive to operate, and there’s an abundance of USB and 12V points. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

We tried fixing the problem with the Software-over-the-air capability (SOTA) which is now standard on every new Jaguar and Land Rover model in SA, but the vehicle already had the latest update installed. To the dealer it will have to go.

The 2020 update includes a stiffened body to reduce noise and vibration, and the Discovery Sport rolls along with a refinement akin to its larger and more expensive stablemates.

Of particular merit is its smooth ride, which made for a comfortable long-distance cruise from Joburg to Mpumalanga for a weekend trip. It rides rough gravel with good waftability too. Handling-wise this SUV goes through curves with well-mannered neatness though it has a tad more body roll than some peers; it’s more set up for a comfy ride than cornering heroics.

Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 AWD R-Dynamic SE Automatic

WE LIKE: Fuel economy, ride comfort, multi-terrain ability, flexible seating

WE DISLIKE: Most of the new features cost extra

VERDICT: Landy’s junior model is kept current

With all-wheel drive, downhill descent control and a 212mm ground clearance, the Discovery Sport is decently equipped for adventure trails. With a good 600mm wading depth it won’t get drowned easily, and the Terrain Response 2 AWD system automatically detects the surface and adjusts to best suit the conditions, with manually selectable modes for various conditions including rocks and sand.

A choice of two Ingenium four-cylinder 2.0 turbocharged engines powers the Discovery Sport range: a petrol and a diesel. We had the darker-fuelled version which felt a tad hesitant in a standing start, but once the revs climbed it turned into a punchy performer with easy-going cruising and brisk overtaking ability.

It’s a smooth runner with barely any diesel clatter to be heard, and the thrifty 7.5l /100km it averaged on the long trip rounds off its list of talents. To reduce fuel consumption the AWD system powers only the front wheels under steady cruising.

The entry-level Discovery Sport D180S costs R795,966, while the more extensively-specced D180 SE R-Dynamic on test here retails for R906,766.

The Discovery Sport was introduced back in 2014 to replace the Freelander, and its latest improvements to refinement and tech keep it fresh against rivals such as the Mercedes GLC, Jeep Cherokee and BMW X3.


Tech Specs

Engine

Type: Four-cylinder diesel turbo

Capacity: 1,998cc

Power: 132kW

Torque: 430Nm

Transmission

Type: Nine-speed automatic

Drivetrain

Type: All-wheel drive

Performance 

Top speed: 202km/h

0-100km/h: 9.7 seconds

Fuel Consumption: 7.0l/100km (claimed); 7.5l /100km (as tested)

Emissions: 183g/km

Standard features 

Seven airbags, ABS, stability control, climate control, navigation, cruise control, blind spot assist, lane keep assist, rear parking camera, LED headlights with daytime running lights, interactive driver display, Pivi Pro infotainment system, electrically adjustable front seats, leather upholstery

Ownership

Warranty: Five years/100,000km

Maintenance plan: Five years/100,000km

Price: R906,766

Lease*: R19,360

*at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Competition

BMW X3 xDrive 20d, 140kW/400Nm — R846,938

Jeep Cherokee 3.2 Overland 4x4, 200kW/315Nm — R776,592

Lexus NX 300 F-Sport, 175kW/350Nm — R883,500

Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d AMG Line, 143kW/400Nm — R889,080

Volvo XC60 D5 AWD R-Design, 173kW/480Nm — R850,200

Motor News star rating

Design * * *

Performance * * * *

Economy * * * *

Safety * * * * *

Value For Money * * * *

Overall * * * *

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