2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Is Land Rover lowering its sights with the Disco Sport? We check out the family SUV from Landy that wants to go mainstream

By Shahzad Sheikh

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Right off the bat I have to admit I’ve struggled with this car. Not actually with the car itself, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with it, and I can easily imagine this car in somewhere like Europe (equipped with the diesel motor there) could  do extremely well with people that want a family hold-all that doesn’t look like a hulking anti-social off-roader, but with all the reassurance of true off-road ability.

No, I’m struggling to place it in our market. Watch this video and you’ll see why, or read on.

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To me it looks too much like a Range Rover rather than a Land Rover. So surely that’s a good thing right? The prestige of the Rangie brand but the relatively affordable prices of a family Landy – starting at AED159,000 and rising to AED229,000 (model tested here is the SE at AED179k).

However to me the Land Rover brand is meant to be an off-road marque. The Defender looks like it conquered the world; the LR3/LR4 with its big boxy high-riding looks gave off the aura of being rough and tough and happy to take your family anywhere you’d choose to go; even the LR2/Freelander that this Disco Sport essentially replaces had a utilitarian all-purpose feel to it.

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport

This new car, however, just looks like just another family SUV in a crowded market of such cars, albeit one wearing a legendary badge. And if you’re paying that much money for something with a fancy badge, you’ll want a decent motor under the bonnet – which you have, because there’s a Ford-sourced Ecoboost unit installed in the Disco Sport.

However it’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder Turbo, not a V6. Yes it’s good for 240bhp giving the car a respectable 0-100kph time of 8.0 seconds, and certainly when the Turbo kicks in, after an initial hesitation, this feels quick enough. But even Land Rover doesn’t appear to be too keen on this engine, as it’s merely a stop-gap till it introduces its new range of Ingenium engines towards the end of the year – although that will still be a 2.0-litre turbo.

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a great family car. It’s comfortable and spacious, particularly if you DO NOT opt for the 7-seater option as that will just eat into the generous cargo space and provides only occasional seating best left for children (if you want a 7-seater Land Rover go for the excellent LR4 instead).

Plus it has decent kit, good fit and finish and a nine-speed gearbox. And of course a terrain select system, as well as surprisingly decent approach and departure angles to ensure it can do the business should you actually take it off-road. But you won’t. The perception you get with this car is that it’s a soft-roader not an off-roader. It’s also just too ‘nice’ to get its wheels dirty.

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport

The ‘Sport’ tag also seems to be a misnomer – it’s an easy car to drive with impeccable manners, but it’s not sporting in anyway whatsoever – understandable when it has the twin task of being good to drive on the road and excellent off-road, even if most owners will never know just how excellent.

So it’s a car that leaves me a little confused when trying to place it in our complex market. It won’t appeal to the status-conscious buyer because it’s not a Range Rover and it only has a four-cylinder engine, yet it won’t appeal to the value-conscious buyer either because it’s just a tad too expensive (consider that the Jeep Grand Cherokee with equally good off-road abilities and a V6 motor is being offered for AED145k right now).

Let’s see if I’m proved wrong. I do like Land Rovers, so I’d be quite happy if I were, but do tell us what you think of the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport in the comments section below.

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport

2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport – The Specs

Price:
Sport S:
AED159,000 ($43k)
Sport SE: AED179,000 ($49k)
Sport HSE: AED199,000 ($54k)
Sport HSE Luxury: AED229,000 ($62k)
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl Turbo, 240bhp @ 5800rpm, 250lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission: nine-speed automatic, Four wheel drive
Performance: 0-100kph 8.0 seconds, Top speed 200kph, 10.7L/100km
Weight: 1744kg

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