The good thing about the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is that it’s a Land Rover. The bad thing about it is that it’s a Land Rover.
There’s something mythical about taking the wheel of a British vehicle. They reign in an exclusive category of their own. They don’t fit in the usual realm of racy Europeans automobile brands and have an air of superiority about them we are fascinated with–the royalty of automotive if you will.
At first I felt a little intimidated taking the wheel of the Discovery Sport, as though I wasn’t worthy, although this was far from the $100,000+ Range Rovers. But then I quickly realized that the Discovery Sport looks the part, but doesn’t really play it. I didn’t remain intimidated for long, because as awesome as the Land Rover Discovery looks and feels, I also find it overrated.
The Discovery Sport is a great example of how well the British do with luxury. This entry-level model has received exceptional treatment despite being the most affordable vehicle in the line up. It even made me enjoy leather seats which is no small feat. I always find them too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, when you would need them to be the exact opposite. Yet, I couldn’t keep my hands off of them. That’s the Kobe beef of leather for you.
The cabin feels extremely refined and despite the dark, rich trimmings, the panoramic moonroof makes sure to keep the space open and airy. The British do know a thing or two hundred about luxury. Yet the dashboard is so incredibly plain. You would expect a pièce de résistance worthy of the elegant ensemble, but I’m hesitant to refer to the console as “elegant”. It’s just bland. At least you have access to all the necessary features such as navigation, satellite radio, climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and others. That is, once you figure out how to navigate the computer.
We get spoiled with today’s new infotainment platforms and their appealing interface. You will most certainly notice the gap with the Discovery Sport’s infotainment computer. I am also still debating whether I like the button shifter or not. Some have commented that it is as elegant and masculine as the cockpit design, yet it’s not a design choice I completely agree with.
The 2015 Discovery Sport comes with a good selection of safety and security features, some more usual than others, including Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Terrain Response, Pedestrian Protection System, Dynamic Stability Control, Roll Stability Control, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and many, many more. So no matter what happens, you can feel absolutely safe in your Land Rover. There’s your 5-star rating.
The SUV also gets points for its exterior design that follows Land Rover’s new and refreshed guidelines. The front end will undeniably remind you of the Discovery’s style sibling, the Evoque. The design works and is oh so appealing. Only, instead of the sloping roof line of the Evoque, you get a capable, full-size vehicle with good cargo capacity and seating for up to seven passengers.
Pop open the hood and you initially get excited about the perspective of a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbocharged motor. 240 horsepower, 340 lb-ft of torque sounds like a lot of fun. Sadly, it isn’t. See, I have come to like turbocharged engines and have high expectations of them. I like how responsive and instantaneous they can be. Although I like high torque and dizzying acceleration, the Discovery Sport failed to deliver me that. It actually made me want to cry a little. The turbo lag is off-putting and you can feel the weight of the vehicle overwhelm the engine that feels inadequate. Once the turbo kicks in and decides to cooperate, you can get decent acceleration out of it, but the time it takes to get there is what makes the difference between being able to react quickly and not. Not even the Sport mode adds much to it.
However, I’ll hand it to the 8-speed automatic transmission; it does a good job and doesn’t feel choppy. Plus the paddle shifters do allow you to downshift and accelerate more efficiently. But it’s not enough to fill up the gap the turbo lag has left in my heart.
Living in the city limits my access to dirt roads so sadly, I was not able to take full advantage of the AWD system and of the different off-road driving modes, but at the touch of a button, you have the possibility of adapting the handling, the suspension and the torque distribution of the vehicle. If you find any yourself in a snowstorm or on sand dunes, the Discovery Sport has a button to take care of you.
For $53,000 and change, the HSE Luxury trim Discovery Sport I drove will get you all the quality, luxury and opulence the British racing green Land Rover name tag promises. Unfortunately, that’s about all you’ll get. When the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport was first introduced, it understandably received a lot of attention as a new member of the Royal Family. There’s a legacy and a certain prestige attached to the brand, and that is pretty much what you pay for with this new Land Rover. Everything else the Discovery Sport has to offer, you will easily find on board other, similar vehicles, with a much more enticing price tag.
Photographs by Sabrina Giacomini and Land Rover.
Find Sabrina on Twitter @sabigia