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A new platform, face and innards serve the Land Rover Discovery Sport well but it can’t stay away from the carbs...

Take a guess at the average weight of a premium-midsize SUV equipped with a four-pot diesel. Less than two tonnes, surely? Well, we recorded 1 858 kg for a heavily optioned BMW X3 xDrive20d, a slightly portlier 1 937 kg for Audi’s Q5 2,0 TDI and an identical figure for the Mercedes-Benz GLC220d. Volvo’s XC60 – our reigning champion in this category in CAR’s Top 12 Best Buys awards – weighs 1 916 kg in D5 spec.

Now, you might wonder why we’re harping on about mass in a test on Land Rover’s extensively revised Discovery Sport, but there’s a very good reason. You see, when the British off-roading brand unveiled its new product, it highlighted the Disco Sport’s fresh “lightweight monocoque” Premium Transverse Architecture platform in place of the pre-facelift variant’s steel-heavy option that originally saw service as far back as the Freelander (effectively the Disco Sport’s forerunner).

Considering all the work Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) put into the fresh underpinnings, why did this D180 R-Dynamic HSE, the flagship diesel option, load CAR’s scales to the tune of 2 126 kg?

Excess weight in any vehicle places a persistent burden on the suspension and engine. Firmer springs and dampers are often required to control mass transfer, while the powertrain has to work harder to provide equivalent motive force to a lighter rival. In this Discovery Sport, the bulk is ever present but, to the credit of JLR’s engineers, not always to such a degree as to annoy.

Certainly, the mass is felt in terms of pure performance. Posting a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 10,33 seconds, the D180 is 1,61 seconds slower to the three-figure mark than the GLC220d. The chasm’s even wider through the gears, despite the Land Rover boasting a whole 30 N.m of torque more than the Benz and both making use of a nine-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.

In-town, there’s noticeable lag at low revs, dulling responses off the line. Urban driving is further compromised by one of the slowest stop/start systems we’ve experienced; it takes an age for the motor to fire up when easing off the throttle, long enough to get the occasional hoot from impatient Cape Town drivers at traffic lights.

However, once the Disco Sport is up and running, this fades into the background, much like the Ingenium engine’s clatter. JLR’s done great work in the years since this powertrain line was launched to improve refinement. In fact, the Discovery Sport is a fantastic highway companion: it’s hushed at 120 km/h; the ride on MacPherson-strut front suspension and a revised multilink rear-end is soothing; and the steering perfectly weighted not to feel nervous at the straight-ahead. Perhaps it has something to do with the weight but the Sport feels impervious.

Return to town and the ride quality continues to impress. Our test vehicle was equipped with the optional Adaptive Dynamics package (R12 300) with dampers adjusting 100 times a second to prevailing road conditions. Arguably the Sport doesn’t need this system even when appointed with these extra-cost (R31 600) 21-inch diamond-turned alloy wheels. (Land Rover smartly offers the option to downgrade the size of the wheels to smaller than standard.) Sure, there’s some pitter-patter but, overall, this is undoubtedly one of the best-riding vehicles in the segment.

It’s this loping gait that’s the smallest Land Rover’s real triumph. There’s clearly been little attempt to turn the Sport into a dynamic handler, a lesson other manufacturers could consider emulating. We were also impressed with the consistent weighting of the controls, an element the brand’s been getting right for years.

Still, there’s the weight... In our 10-stop emergency braking test, the Discovery Sport recorded an average time of 3,12 seconds, a disappointing result compared with the GLC’s 2,82 seconds and the X3’s 2,77. The Land Rover also needed at least four metres more road space to come to a halt. It affects consumption, too; the D180 posted a fuel-route figure of 8,1 L/100 km versus the BMW’s incredible 5,8 and 7,1 for the Benz.

Coinciding with the introduction of the new platform, JLR facelifted the Discovery Sport and expanded its standard-equipment tally. It looks smart and upmarket, but the team was split on the Namib Orange paintwork (11 other colours are offered). On the flagship R-Dynamic HSE trim, the Sport features 20-inch alloys, Premium LED headlamps with auto high-beam, a powered tailgate, keyless entry and start, PDC with a rear-view camera, lane-keep and blind-spot assist, plus adaptive cruise control.

The interior’s well equipped, featuring the brand’s tactile Ebony Windsor leather trim with 14-way electric adjustment for the front seats, an upgraded Meridian audio system with 10 speakers and a dual-channel subwoofer – the sound quality’s excellent, by the way – sat-nav, screen-mirroring plus a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and digital instrumentation. Most of these features are extra-cost options on the Discovery Sport’s German rivals.

One feature we’re not convinced by is the ClearSight rear-view mirror with a wide-angle camera feed. Initially jarring, some members of the team eventually became used to the odd sight to their upper-left and others simply turned it off for a normal mirror.

Substantially more positive comments were made about the interior’s fit and finish. This test vehicle did not have a single obvious rattle or squeak, which is becoming a rarity in the premium market judging by our recent spate of creaky test vehicles across brands. Supple leather lines the dashboard and doors, the stitching is millimetric, the facia feels rigid and the controls are slick.

Meanwhile, the 10-inch touchscreen-equipped Touch Pro system is easier to use than ever – which isn’t saying much considering the low base that existed before – but not quite to the functional standard of the new Pivi Pro setup in the Defender. We also appreciate that not all the climate controls have been relegated to digital buttons, making adjustment on the move that much easier. 

Elsewhere, the Discovery Sport’s interior is class-leading. There’s an abundance of leg and headroom fore and aft – the second-row bench slides through 90 mm and the backrests can recline – and the boot’s large, there’s minimal intrusion and the rear seats are a doddle to fold and tumble. Conveniently, Land Rover offers the option of a third row of kids’ chairs at R14 300.
CAPE TOWN – A spin-off of the Land Rover Freelander, which was cancelled after two seasons, the Discovery Sport was introduced in 2015. Boasting fresh tech and the brand’s go-anywhere appeal, the first generation was also tasked with addressing concerns consumers had with the quality issues of the car it replaced. The Whitley-based firm has now given its Discovery Sport a comprehensive update. At the local launch, we sampled the D180-badged, turbodiesel derivative in R-Dynamic HSE guise over various types of terrain during a trip to the picturesque Riebeek Valley.

As is the custom, design cues from the fifth-generation Discovery have been carried over to the midsize SUV. The most notable of these are the revised LED head- and taillamps and the bumpers. Viewed from the front, the updated Discovery Sport (seen here in an optional Namib Orange hue with black contrast roof) looks a near spitting image of its bigger sibling. Those with a keen eye might notice some new details, such as the Discovery denomination above the front wheel arches.

The leather-trimmed interior is a highlight. Perceived build quality is sound, with myriad soft-touch and rubber-lined surfaces. The door pockets, although plastic, feel solid. The door pulls in this particular unit did, however, wiggle when tugged. Land Rover’s Touch Pro system is simple to navigate, while the dual-zone climate control and Terrain Response 2, replete with an auto function, are operated via a (fingerprint- and dust-collecting) gloss black touch panel sited below the 10,25-inch infotainment display. Land Rover has, however, not completely done away with analogue items. Sited within easy reach of the driver, the right-hand dial is used to adjust temperature and select the desired off-road function. Land Rover’s ClearSight rear-view mirror and ground-view tech are on offer. The electrically adjustable driver’s pew is comfortable, giving those behind the pleasingly thin-rimmed steering wheel a commanding view over the clamshell bonnet.

The most significant update, however, is that the Discovery Sport is now underpinned by Jaguar Land Rover’s Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA), which is some 13 percent stiffer than the platform of the previous model. Uprated McPherson struts (now with hydrobush tech) fore do a commendable job at reducing wheel vibration, while the integral link arrangement aft has improved handling and, thanks to its compact dimensions, frees up additional boot space. Even running on these 21-inch alloys, wrapped in 45-profile rubber, the ride is pliant and road noise is kept to a minimum. The cabin is well insulated but for faint wind flutter that becomes apparent round the A-pillars when driving at the national limit. The steering, although some might find it on the heavier side, suits the midsize SUV. It feels like you are driving something substantial.

Coupled with a nine-speed self-shifter, the 2,0-litre Ingenium mill is smooth in its workings, sending 132 kW and 430 N.m (the latter on offer from 1 500-3 000 r/min) to all four corners. The stop-start sytem is seamless. Turbo lag was, however, present when swift overtaking was required. At cruising speeds, the rear axle is disengaged and drive is sent solely to the front wheels to improve fuel consumption. Once a loss of traction is detected, an active torque vectoring system reconnects the rear in a claimed four-tenths of a second.

Breakfast at dawn was followed by some brief off-roading on a local wine and olive farm. It is a Land Rover after all. Terrain response set to auto, the SUV was in charge. Only a subtle tilt of the steering wheel here and there was required from the driver when hill descent control was activated. The 212 mm of ground clearance is sufficient. And ascent/descent gradient is rated at 45°, while Land Rover claims a wading depth of 600 mm. A two-wheel balancing act showcased the traction control’s competency, directing torque to the right-front and left-rear wheels; the system is effortless. The Discovery Sport covered in an appropriate layer of dirt, we made our way back to the Mother City.

Arguably, the Discovery Sport is a Land Rover rarely in need of a proper scrub; relegated to town-driving and the odd spot of gravel. Overall, it's a solid SUV, capable of transporting five adults and two smaller passengers (three Isofix anchorages are included) in comfort. However, take the roads less travelled and you'll likely be surprised by its capability. Thoroughly updated, the latest Discovery Sport is less a spin-off of the Freelander and more a stand-alone production in the Discovery franchise. 

Full Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Leather upholstery: Standard
  • Seats quantity: 5
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Climate control automatic air conditioning: Standard
  • Cup bottle holders: front + rear
  • Front armrests: Standard
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Traction control: Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Hill descent control downhill brake control: Standard
  • Tyre pressure sensor monitor deflation detection system: Optional
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Driver knee airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 7
  • Lane departure warning: lane keeping assist
  • Lane change blindspot warning assist monitor: Standard
  • Attention assist rest assist break alert: Standard
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • Electric child proof safety lock switch: Standard
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: outer rear + front passenger
  • Directional turning headlights: opt matrix LED
  • Adaptive headlights varying light distribution: opt matrix LED
  • Emergency brake hazardlights: emergency-brake flashing hazard lights
  • Start stop button: Standard
  • Engine auto Stop Start idle stop ecostop: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Electronically adjustable suspension: opt adaptive
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • Head up display: Optional
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Navigation: Standard
  • Cruise control: adaptive
  • Active adaptive cruise control: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • Voice control: Standard
  • TV television: Optional
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: front + rear
  • Central locking: keyless (opt activity key)
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Key less access start hands free key: std (opt activity key)
  • Electric windows: front + rear
  • Rain sensor auto wipers: Standard
  • Auto dim interior mirror: std + rear-view camera mirror
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Heated exterior mirrors: Standard
  • Auto dimexterior mirrors: driver
  • Sun roof: opt fixed panoramic
  • Panoramic roof: opt fixed
  • Memory for electric seat adjustment: front
  • Daytime driving running lights: LED
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Xenon headlights: LED
  • Highbeam assist: Standard
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Camera for park distance control: rear
  • Rear spoiler: Standard
  • Towbar trailer hitch: opt detachable / opt electric detachable
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: diesel
  • Fuel range average: 1121 km
  • Driven wheels: all
  • Driven wheels quantity: 4
  • All wheel drive: full-time
  • Gearratios quantity: 9
  • Gearshift: automatic
  • Transmission type: automatic
  • Gear shift paddles: Standard
  • Electromechanical parking brake: Standard
  • Front tyres: 245/40 R20 (opt 245/45 R21)
  • Reartyres: 245/40 R20 (opt 245/45 R21)
  • Length: 4597 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 2069-2173 mm
  • Height: 1727 mm
  • Wheel base: 2741 mm
  • Ground clearance minimum maximum: 212 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 11.8 m
  • Approach angle: 22.8
  • Break over ramp angle: 20.6
  • Departure angle: 28.2
  • Wading/fording (water crossing) depth: 600
  • Load volume / capacity: 1179-1794 (157-1036-1651 with opt 7 seats) L
  • Load volume / capacity: 1794 (1651 with opt 7 seats) L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1873 DIN / 1948 EU kg
  • Gross weight (GVM): 2590 kg
  • Towing capacity - unbraked: 750
  • Towing capacity - braked: 2500
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 65l
  • Fuel consumption average: 5.8 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 152g/km
  • Power maximum: 132 kW
  • Power maximum total: 132 kW
  • Power peak revs: 4000 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 70.5 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 430 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 1750-2500 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 430 Nm
  • Torque to weight ratio: 230 Nm/ton
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 9.7s
  • Maximum top speed: 202 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 1999 cc
  • Engine size: 2.0l
  • enginedetailshort: 2.0TD
  • Engine + detail: 2.0 turbo diesel
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i4
  • Cam: dohc
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 16
  • Variable camvalve timing: Standard
  • Turbocharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 5
  • Warranty distance (km): 100000 km
  • Maintenance plan: Standard
  • Maintenance plan time (years): 5
  • Maintenance plan distance (km): 100000 km
  • Service interval indicator: Standard
  • Service interval (distance): 26000 km
  • Service interval (time): 1
  • Brand: Land Rover
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 35035485
  • MMintrodat: 2019-09-03
  • Introdate: 2020-01-01
  • DuoportarecordID: LandDisS1Fe5

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Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 R-Dynamic HSE for sale in Johannesburg from one of's apporoved car dealerships
New Discovery Sport D180 R-Dynamic HSE availbale from the following auto dealer:
Jaguar Land Rover Waterford new car dealership located in: Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
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