To try and offer higher levels of efficiency, Land Rover is providing the fifth generation version of its large Discovery SUV with a four cylinder Sd4 diesel engine. The experts at Car & Driving check out what's on offer.
Ten Second Review
There's nothing quite like a Land Rover Discovery and not much comes close to matching the versatility of this latest fifth generation version. Whether it's carrying seven people in comfort, crossing deserts or cutting it in the company car park, this SUV does the lot. It's also lighter on its toes and your wallet in four cylinder diesel Sd4 form. So, is the Discovery the ultimate four by four? Let's find out.
Land Rover faces ever tougher competition whenever it launches the next incarnation of its Discovery. With this fifth generation model, there are rivals from all corners that offer a sporty drive, great off-road ability or a luxury experience. Yet none of them quite combines all of those elements in one package the way the Brit does and this is what has always made the Discovery stand head and shoulders above its rivals.
This MK5 model is mostly made from aluminium. That's helped shave 450 kilograms from the car's weight, which makes it much better on fuel consumption and more agile to drive. There are also new motors under the bonnet, including the 2.0-litre Sd4 turbodiesel we're going to look at here, a unit that aims to keep this large SUV firmly among company car drivers' choices.
It feels wonderful to be sat in the driver's seat of this Land Rover Discovery. It gives a great view of the road ahead and all around, so you feel safe and in complete control. That sensation is helped along by the way this fifth generation model behaves, which has a lot to do with it being 450 kilograms lighter than its predecessor thanks to ditching a separate chassis in favour of an aluminium core structure. As a result, it goes round corners with little body lean and, thanks to its air suspension, glides over bumps that would upset some its rivals. Of course, this is still a large SUV, so some care is needed when negotiating narrow entrances, but a turning circle of 12.3 metres aids the Land Rover to nip through town and along country lanes with equal composure. As for the motorway, you'll find it stable and very hushed in the cabin.
The calm inside the Discovery has a lot to do with what's under the bonnet in the shape of the engine line-up. Most buyers will choose the 2.0-litre 'Sd4' turbodiesel unit we're looking at here - this is the smallest diesel motor every fitted to this green oval model. Mind you, it packs a big punch courtesy of 500 Newton metres of torque that arrives at a mere 1500rpm. You never have to work it hard and there's always enough oomph for overtaking, towing or cruising. Use its full potential and 0-62mph comes up in 8.0 seconds. As with all Discoverys in this range, an eight-speed automatic gearbox is fitted that assists with ease of driving and maximising efficiency.
Design and Build
Since the day it was launched, the Discovery has always had a unique look that's not just set it apart from its rivals, but also made it stand out from the other models in Land Rover's line-up. This fifth generation design moves much closer to the rest of the range and shares much of its inspiration with its smaller Sport sister. Good or bad move on the company's part? That's up to you to decide, but at least there are some of the classic Discovery cues in evidence - the rear C-pillar and the stepped roof for instance.
Once installed in the driver's chair, you have a commanding view of the road ahead and to the sides thanks to the elevation and large glass area. The main instrument display directly in front of the driver consists of an analogue speedo on the left and rev counter over on the right-hand side. Both are simple and clear, while in the centre is a digital display for fuel level and water temperature. Anything this can't tell you will be found on the centre-dash 'InControl Touch' colour touchscreen.
As for the rear of the car, there's plenty of space in the second row - and adult-sized room in the fold-out third row seats too - which is unusual, even with large larger 7-seat SUVs. As for luggage space, well there's lots of it - up to 1,137-litres with the first two seating rows in place, or up to 2,406-litres with just the front seats in use.
Market and Model
The Discovery may have steadily become plusher with every successive generation, but Land Rover still pitches its prices that little bit below most of its key rivals. As a result, you'll need around £48,000 to drive away in an entry-level model with the 2.0-litre 'Sd4' turbodiesel engine. As with every model in this fifth generation range, that includes an eight-speed automatic gearbox and full-time four-wheel drive, as well as the dirt-defying 'Terrain Response' system.
As for equipment across the range, well even the base 'S' model gets you 19-inch 'five split-spoke' design alloy wheels, halogen headlights with daytime running lamps, a heated windscreen and door mirrors with integrated puddle lights. The 'Brunel' front grille has a 'Narvik Black' plastic surround and there's more of the same for the wing vents and lower bumper sections. At the rear, a 'Powered Tailgate' takes the effort of out of opening the boot and there's also a 'powered Inner Tailgate' panel that drops down to make loading larger items easy. Body-coloured door handles lift the exterior appeal, while inside there's cloth fabric on the seats and eight-way manual adjustment for the front pews. Every Discovery comes with seven seats as standard in a 2-3-2 layout.
Cost of Ownership
Land Rover has made huge strides in making its cars more efficient and cheaper to run for its owners. At the heart of this push is a switch to an aluminium construction for this fifth generation Discovery. It saves 450 kilograms compared to the old model and, if you want to know how much that is, it's the equivalent of five rugby-playing passengers being removed from the weight of the car. As a result, it means this Mk5 model can now be offered with the 2.0-litre 'Sd4' turbodiesel engine we've been looking at here, a unit that offers up to 33.6mpg combined consumption and 197g/km of carbon dioxide emissions. Now, those figures are not quite as good as some in this sector, but you should bear in mind this British SUV comes with seven seats, an eight-speed automatic gearbox and full-time all-wheel drive as standard.
Every model has 'Stop-Start' that automatically turns off the engine when the car is sat still in traffic. As soon as you release the brake pedal to press on the accelerator, the engine fires up ready for the off. The diesel-fuelled versions use 'AdBlue' to lessen the impact of the tailpipe gases. This works by injecting a urea-based solution into the hot exhaust that turns the harmful chemicals into water. You can top up this solution's tank yourself or any Land Rover dealer will fill it for you when required around every 9000 miles.
Is the Land Rover Discovery the ultimate large SUV? For many, the answer was already a resounding "yes" and we'd have to agree it's a tough act to better. The world just seems a better place when you're sat up in its commanding driver's seat. Whether you're heading to the shops, on the school run or a skiing holiday, this four by four does the lot with a relaxed ease that makes most rivals seem well behind the curve. Of course, it helps that Land Rover has made this fifth generation model lighter and even more packed with driver aids. Plus it's easier on running costs in this four cylinder Sd4 form.
In summary, the Discovery is one of the most sophisticated, connected and just plain brilliant full-size SUVs you can choose. Noting quite matches the classless way it goes about its business.
Land Rover reckons that this Discovery Sport is the most versatile premium compact SUV currently on sale. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at the revised version.
Ten Second Review
Land Rover's Discovery Sport was a big success in its original form, with almost 100,000 examples sold in the UK alone. But competitors in the SUV 'D'-segment for 7-seat family Crossovers have caught up. Hence the need for this revised model, which now gets a full range of mild hybrid diesel engines and upgraded infotainment. It's still the class of the field if you ever need to go off road. But now it pleases more in many other ways too.
You hesitate to think of where Land Rover might be now without the Discovery Sport. It's one of the key models that's kept JLR going over the last five years and in the current climate, this car needs to pull its weight in the showroom more than ever. Which is a big ask, given that since the original launch in 2014, direct rivals like Volkswagen's Tiguan Allspace, Peugeot's 5008, SEAT's Tarraco and a new more up-market version of Hyundai's Santa Fe have all arrived to deliver an alternative to what the Discovery Sport can offer.
So Land Rover has set out to take the lead once more in this class, primarily with a fresh range of electrified engines. But also with a smarter cabin, extra technology and stronger standards of safety.
This car might look the same but under the skin, it's actually a lot different thanks to the adoption of what Land Rover calls 'Premium Transverse Architecture'. This not only makes the body stronger and safer but has also allowed the brand to fit a sophisticated range of 'MHEV' mild hybrid engines, plus there's now a Plug-in hybrid option too. Basically, the same powerplant options already offered in the Range Rover Evoque. These 48-volt units use energy recouped during braking to reduce load on the powerplant under acceleration, while letting the engine cut out from deceleration below 11mph and give near-instantaneous restarts as needed.
All models now feature the MHEV tech and have to have AWD and an automatic gearbox. There are D165 and D200 diesel options, the figures designating the hp output. And there are three conventional petrol options, the P200, the P250 and the P290. There's also a Plug-in P300e PHEV variant, which pairs an electric motor with a three cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine and offers a 38-mile WLTP-rated electric driving range. Whatever engine suits, you'll find this car's class-leading towing and off road ability as good as ever. It can tow up to 2.5-tonnes. And 'off piste' prowess is enhanced thanks to an improved 'Terrain Response 2' system that automatically detects the surface you're driving over and adjusts torque delivery to best suit the conditions.
Design and Build
At first glance, this improved Discovery Sport looks little different to the original model. If you take a second look though and you happen to be familiar with this car, the changes will become more obvious. Trademark Discovery design cues, including the clamshell bonnet, rising beltline and tapered roof remain, but the detail features have changed. For instance, there are re-styled signature LED headlamps at the front and rear, alongside an updated front grille and bumpers.
Inside, the standardisation of Land Rover's latest 'Pivi' and 'Pivi Pro' infotainment system makes a big difference. There are more intuitive menus and online media services include Spotify integrated directly within the infotainment menu for the first time. Plus there's Bluetooth connectivity for two phones at once, along with wireless charging and a signal-boosting option. A dual-modem embedded SIM allows over-the-air software updates too. The inclusion of more premium materials throughout also helps with the more premium feel and there's a new Cabin Air Filtration system. All the seats have been completely re-designed for improved comfort and versatility. And the second row bench gets 40:20:40 split fold and slide functionality, enabling a more flexible seating arrangement with up to 24 possible combinations. The brand says there's more luggage space too; with all the seats folded, there's now 1,794-litres of capacity. That's up from 1,698-litres previously. As before, the third row seats are strictly for small children only. But we like the way that the second row bench has been raised 5cms higher than the front chairs to give occupants a better view out.
Market and Model
Discovery Sport pricing now starts from around £37,000, which is quite a lot, but at least the entry level figure (for the base D165 diesel variant) now gets you a car with the three things that most Disco Sport customers want, namely seven seats, automatic transmission and AWD. Add a premium of nearly £3,000 to that if you want the mid-range D200 diesel. The P200 petrol model starts at around £37,000; you'll need around £4,400 more for the mid-range P250 and nearly £50,000 for the top P290 model, which comes only in sporty-looking 'SportBlack' trim.
Various trim levels are offered across the line-up - base 'Discovery Sport', then 'S', 'SE' and 'HSE', plus there are various 'R-Dynamic' options if you want something that looks a bit sportier. You have to have 'R-Dynamic'-spec if you want the P300e PHEV Plug-in hybrid version which is priced from around £47,000.
Various nice touches have been added to the range for you to specify. We'd take a look at the brand's 'Ground View' technology. This uses camera imagery that offers a virtual 180-degree view beneath the vehicle, projected on to the centre-dash touchscreen. You can also now add in a wireless 'phone charger and create a 4G WiFi hotspot.
Cost of Ownership
Let's get to the WLTP figures. The D165 diesel MHEV 48V mild hybrid variant that most buyers will choose manages a WLTP-rated combined cycle fuel return of just under 50mpg and a CO2 reading from 180g/km. The D200 MHEV version manages around 40mpg and from 181g/km.
As mentioned elsewhere in this report, the conventional petrol units benefit from MHEV too and that makes them a far more credible option when it comes to running costs than would previously have been the case. The P200 variant manages up to 30.3mpg on the combined cycle and 213g/km of CO2 emissions. While the P250 manages up to 29.9mpg and 215g/km. The P290 manages 217g/km. The P300e PHEV plug-in version manages between 36-44g/km of CO2, up to 175.5mpg on the combined cycle and a 38 mile all-electric driving range. That emissions figure means a notably low Benefit-in-Kind taxation rating.
With all the conventional AWD petrol and diesel models, a more sophisticated 'Active Driveline' system ensures that you spend more time in efficient two wheel drive when extra traction isn't needed. Residuals should be reasonably strong; certainly better than the volume brand alternatives in this segment.
In theory, there are lots of competitors for this car. But loyal Disco Sport buyers don't tend to consider them. That's partly because 'D'-segment SUV 7-seat rivals from Volkswagen, Peugeot, SEAT, Hyundai and Kia don't have Land Rover's brand equity. Partly because they can't tow as effectively. And partly because they can't hold a candle to this car off road.
There were issues with the original version of this car though, primarily in the way that it's fuel and CO2 emissions lagged behind the opposition. So the adoption of mild hybrid 48-volt tech in this revised model is welcome. Rivals are still more frugal, but Land Rover has closed the gap. The cabin improvements and the extra technology features will help this car in the showroom too. If you wanted one of these before, you'll want it even more now. And if you didn't, it might be worth taking another look. 'Above and beyond' was the objective in re-developing this model. In considering the end result, you'd have to say that mission's been accomplished.