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      2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport First Drive Review

      Santosh Nair

      Santosh Nair

      Why would I buy it?

      • Comfortable cabin
      • Sorted dynamics, off-road credentials
      • Opulent stance

      Why would I avoid it?

      • Cramped third row
      • Needs a sportier motor

      Engine and Performance

      Gear Shifter/Gear Shifter Stalk

      Everything about this Land Rover Discovery Sport revolves around comfort; even the performance. Its BS6 compliant 177bhp/430Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel motor, as such, sends power to the wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission. Yes, you always hear the engine singing in the background, but none of the harshness is ever transmitted to the occupants. In D-mode, the motor’s response to the throttle input is more of the leisurely kind than of the sportier one. Smartly though, the system acknowledges the throttle accurately to feed more response, albeit in a sedate manner. 

      Right Front Three Quarter

      Plus, this character trickles down to gear shifts too, wherein, the transmission first tries to serve more response from the slotted gear. And resorting only to downshifting when one doesn’t back off from the accelerator pedal. While this is more or less the same ideology with S-mode, the intensity of the power delivered is an altogether different story since the driver’s intent is clear. So the lower gears are clenched onto, for enhanced responses throughout the power band, and the downshifts too are implemented fittingly to aid engine braking. 

      Left Rear Three Quarter

      But we admit that in kick-down situations, the S-mode has the transmission confused at times about which of the nine gears to select. In such cases, resorting to the paddle shifters clears the air considerably. Now for an SUV this size, we think the 10.92 seconds it takes to hit 100kmph from standstill is commendable. Moreover, our tests of overtaking/drivability, the 20-80kmph and 40-100kmph runs, were despatched in just 6.0 seconds and 7.76 seconds, respectively. To gain some perspective here, Merc’s GLC, while being massively quicker in the run to 100kmph by a whole 2.43 seconds, is also slightly quicker in the drivability tests.

      Ride Quality and Handling

      Left Side View

      The Discovery Sport’s ride quality is purely superlative. Regardless of the speeds one is traversing at, the chassis setup/dampers combined, do a magnificent job of absorbing all that our roads can throw at it. Amusingly, the only instance discomfort may be felt within is if it trudged over a crater. Finely complementing this trait is Discovery Sport’s excellent steering (just two and one-fourth turns from lock-to-lock). It’s quick, brilliantly progressive, and offers superb feedback. And to top it, there’s an enormous grip from the wide rubber that’s wrapped around those large rims. 

      Right Rear Three Quarter

      Indeed, being a large SUV means one will witness a fair share of body-roll around the keener corners. Nevertheless, there’s no cause for concern as this Land Rover remains unfazed owing to its pristine dynamics. As for its off-roading capabilities, although we weren’t able to put it through the swamps, I’ve attended quite a few Land Rover events which show off its true wilderness prowess. But just so that we’re on the same page, braking duties are sure shot assuring, just as much as the 210mm of ground clearance that will clear just about anything. 

      Comfort, Convenience, and Features

      Dashboard

      The insides of the Discovery Sport are draped in exquisitely crafted soft-touch cabin materials with wooden inserts, sporty red stitching, magnificently brushed-silver finish, and gorgeous piano black trim used as highlights. Honestly, the double-layered dash with the AC vents running in between, and the clean but large instrumentation feels explicitly elegant. But it’s got a neat trick up its sleeve; a ‘smart rear-view mirror’ that converts the rear-view mirror into a video screen that shows what’s behind it. This comes in handy when in-cabin obstructions restrict the view.

      Front Row Seats

      As regards storage, there are large door pads all across, a compartmentalised front armrest storage with multiple ports (USB/micro sim-card/power outlet), and some inside the second-row armrest and twin air vents. Third-row users get three-point seat belts, AC vents with controls, a power outlet, and a USB port. Now, to begin with, the leather upholstered seats up front are huge, provide excellent support overall, and are electrically operated with a memory function. It works well for the larger framed too. On the contrary, I would’ve loved to see height-adjustable seatbelts though.

      Second Row Seats

      Now, since the second-row seats can recline/slide back and forth, leg- and foot-room aren’t a concern. But what is, is the lack of thigh support. Otherwise, the experience is quite similar to the front ones. In view of the abundant shoulder-room, seating three is a breeze if one can ignore the oddly raised centre cushioning. Lastly, gaining access to the rather compact twin-seat third row is attained by wobbling uncomfortably past the second row (40:20:40 split). No points here for guessing that they are strictly intended for toddlers; adults will discriminately find it severely crouching at best! Likewise, with the third row in use, one can only find space for two slim laptop bags in the boot. Folding it though will liberate enough for most requirements.

      Third Row Seats

      The R-Dynamic SE here is equipped with LED headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, heated door mirrors with auto-dimming and memory functions, a fixed panorama sunroof, and a powered tailgate. It also comes with two-zone climate control, ClearSight inner rear-view mirror, wireless charging, tyre pressure monitoring, and cruise control with a speed limiter. With respect to the 10.25-inch ‘Touch Pro’ infotainment system, has a high-res display with an intuitive UI, is responsive, has excellent touch sensitivity, and is Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatible. Audiophiles will simply love how this astounding Meridian system sounds. 

      Bootspace

      Safety Features

      Driver Side Airbag

      You get six airbags, ABS, lane keep assist, torque vectoring by braking, 360-degree parking aid with a rear camera, and a driver condition monitor. Plus, there is roll stability control, all-wheel drive with efficient driveline, hill launch assist, low traction launch, electronic traction control, hill descent control, dynamic stability control, all-terrain progress control, and Terrain Response 2 which has separate modes to counter different terrain.

      Exterior

      Right Front Three Quarter

      The traditional Land Rover design cues are a breath of fresh air amidst all the Germans running on our roads. And that’s not a bad thing at all. Rich but simplistic, majestic and classy. So the trademark Discovery design cues remain. These include the clamshell bonnet, a rising beltline, and the tapered roof. You’d agree that the new model is an evolution. It projects a more striking visual with its new LED lamps, both front and rear, alongside a new front grille and tweaked bumpers.

      Left Front Three Quarter

      Conclusion

      Right Side View

      In spite of the Discovery Sport being one of Land Rover’s best sellers worldwide, they’ve certainly missed the chance to invigorate buyers with more stunning power delivery, along with a friendlier third row of seats. Plus, its Rs 81.86 lakh (R-Dynamic SE OTR Mumbai) price tag meets cheaper rivals; further tarnishing its lustre. Besides that, whatever it loses out in terms of outright sportiness, the Discovery Sport wins back some on account of the opulent character, being splendidly put together for a spacious cabin with comfy seating (apart from the third row), and being fantastically dynamic. Consequently, this SUV is for those who’d like to stand out from the regulars (read Germans). So in Brit-style then, “aye, fancy a cuppa?”

      Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi

      Land Rover Discovery Sport ₹ 65.23 Lakh Onwards
      Land Rover | Discovery Sport | Land Rover Discovery Sport | Discovery Sport R-Dynamic SE