The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is the latest arrival in the current trend of utilitarian-focused compact SUVs, combining a sleek new design and raw all-terrain power. Yep, this vehicle can drive you into the watery trenches and keep you safe, dry, and in total control. Unfortunately Toronto doesn’t cater well to the outdoorsy type, short of driving this guy into Lake Ontario, but I still had a pleasant experience taking this on an urban adventure.
Based heavily on the new Range Rover Evoque, the Discovery Sport replaces the Land Rover LR2 with an updated, and somewhat mainstream, design. The original Discovery maintains the traditional box-formed design, making the Discovery Sport a new flavour for the Landy Lovers.
2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE Luxury Stats
- Type: Luxury Compact SUV
- Engine: 2.0L, I-4 Four Wheel Drive
- Details: 240 horsepower, 250 lb-ft torque
- Fuel Tank: 70.0 L
- MSRP for the HSE Luxury: $49,900 (CAD)
Aesthetic of the Discovery Sport
The look and feel of the Discovery Sport is what makes this baby a glamorous choice for car buyers in the $40-50k range. The cool, angled design makes it one of the more unique SUVs on the market, on par with the current roster of Range Rovers but at a lower price point.
At 180″ in length, the compact SUV wins at spaciousness without making you feel like you’re driving a stretch limo or battle tank. While it’s a shade longer than the Evoque, it does measure shorter than its counterparts, the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3.
What’s that up there? Oh wait, it’s a massive panoramic sunroof, and it spans nearly the entire cabin. While it doesn’t open, it’s a feature that’ll make yourself and your passengers admire during each drive. Especially great for star gazing in the woods or atop a mountain.
During my test drive for the week, I offered to drive a group of four to the airport for a stag down south. For four rather L to XL sized guys, it was far more comfortable for them than expected, plus their luggage easily fit in the rear trunk – an enormous plus. Spaciousness? Check.
Button placements are a touchy subject for a handful of people, like myself. To my delight, the climate control layout in the centre console is symmetrical and easy on the eyes. The 8″ touch screen infotainment system is visually pleasing, although slightly more graphical than the more traditional interfaces by other makes. The interactive buttons on the doors are a bit of a change, enlarging three seat memory setting buttons centered on the door while hiding the window controls on the top ledge of the door. I found it a little peculiar but my fellow riders revered. Maybe I just need to drive more Land Rovers.
While this version of the HSE didn’t include it, there is an optional third row which can pulled up from the floor and used for a 6th and 7th passenger. An exceptionally useful feature when you need to store grandma and grandpa somewhere.
Technology in the Discovery Sport
Car technology can always be a toss up from make to make, depending how much focus they put into it. Some brands, you can tell, have spent countless years defining and redefining landmark features that eventually become imperviously flawless. The best tech by Land Rover appears reserved for the Range Rover series, but there’s still quite a few features worth noting.
Standard in most new reputable 2015 cars is the smart keyless system, which allow you entry and engine starting without removing your keys from your pocket. I particularly enjoy the emergency key blade, which will allow your fob to eject a key in a cool sleek design that doesn’t sacrifice form for function.
Expect a clear surround sound experience with 11 (that’s right, eleven!) speakers for maximum audio output. As per usual, your options for music sources include Bluetooth, USB, SiriusXM satellite radio, auxiliary inputs, and good old fashioned AM/FM radio, whatever that is.
Lets talk temperature. With both chilled and heated seats a must for those Canadian summers and winters, your backseat passengers will finally get a dosage too as the uniform and ultra comfortable seating includes ventilation through out the car. The Discovery Sport also includes solar attenuated glass. Typically found in many of the Range Rogers, the glass has an infrared reflective coating that keeps the interior temperature cool in hot conditions.
Native to all Land Rovers and Range Rovers is the InControl Apps system which allow you to sync mobile apps to the car for more interactivity and central control. I would’ve loved explored this a little further, however the beautiful How-To videos on the LR website were mainly catered to the Range Rovers, and I felt that many of the awesome tech in the car would be easier to understand and explore if there were guides created for the 2015 Land Rovers too.
I’ve done many park assist tests before (here and here), but felt Land Rover’s parallel park assist to be a bit spotty. I drove numerous times through streets scanning for spots, and found some generously sized gaps that the system couldn’t register. After about 7 times missing parking spots, I was able to get it to register and start reversing into a tight spot for me. Unfortunately, I had to eject from my test as I got nervous that the vehicle might hit the rear of the car in front of me on reverse. I’ll have to do a full test again next time.
Voice control feels pre-Siri. It’s already a difficult undertaking for any company looking to improve voice functions, so I let my tests slide as forgivable. Anyways, I’ve never really found a good voice control system in a car that really does it better than Google or Apple (and maaaybe the Amazon Echo).
If you’re really looking to max out on technology, I suggest taking a look at the new Range Rover Evoque. Now that luxury SUV has the techno-juice.
Driving the Discovery Sport
It’s smooth. It’s quiet. It’s everything you’d expect from a luxury SUV.
Starting the engine reveals the gear shift – a dial that elevates when you’re ready to rock, and lowers when it’s time to close up shop. One of my favourite things to watch every time I got in the car.
ECO mode helps idles the engine to near silence. It’s almost hybrid-like actually, which helps on fuel savings, reduces energy usage, and cuts on emissions (nope, not touching that topic today). Speaking of fuel, the fuel economy is exactly where most premium SUVs are, so don’t expect to save your pretty nickels refuelling this one.
The 360 degree parking sensor detection will save you from the knicks, the scratches, and the dents, but at times the beeping is almost too much. The beeps get very loud, and while it’s easy to turn the feature off, it can occasionally start beeping when there isn’t anything endangering the car whatsoever. Despite the audible mayhem, I highly suggest keeping this feature on because you’re going to want to keep this vehicle looking prim and proper.
One feature I found very handy was how the vehicle, upon being switched to park followed by seatbelt removal, will automatically shut the engine off for you. It took a few drives to realize the engine was already off, and every time I hit the Engine On/Off button after I was actually turning the car back on. Lovely feature for those that don’t notice the engine on while in ECO mode.
The Bottom Line
It’s a red hot SUV. If design and feel are important, you may want to consider it. While I have a few minor disputes with it, there’s something awesome in the air when other see you cruise by. At a competitive price point that puts you a few tweaks short of the Range Rover Evoque, the new redesign will set you apart from the pack. However if you’re really looking for that extra edge, you may want to go straight for the pudding and fork out the extra $10K for the Evoque.
As for the sporty functions, that’ll be for another day – but on paper, the Discovery Sport will keep you cozy whether you’re on land or a couple feet deep in the water. Whatever you can dish at it, this Land Rover can take it.