Meet your new best driving friend: a dinky sports car with virtual reality
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The Top Gear car review:Land Rover Discovery Sport
For:Classy to look at, comfy to sit in, better tech than ever
Against:Not the quickest of SUVs, even without every seat filled
What is it?
Five years after launch, the Discovery Sport remains Land Rover’s best-selling car. So, it’s perhaps no surprise that its mid-life refresh has seen the exterior remain largely the same, with some fancier LED lights and retrimmed bumpers about the sum of its aesthetic evolution. Regular facelift fare.
What isn’t regular facelift fare is completely changing the architecture beneath your car, but that’s what Land Rover’s done. This is a facelift that’s been three years in the making, with similar underpinnings to the new Range Rover Evoque slotted beneath that rather familiar looking body.
Why so much effort? Electricity, the answer to most automotive questions these days. This all-new platform is shaped to swallow batteries and motors, and thus the Disco Sport launches with a bunch of mild-hybrid engines and will soon offer plug-in hybrid powertrains. You’d assume a full EV is something they’re playing with in the lab, too.
The Sport’s current range of engines don’t need any plugging in, and nor do they offer any emissions-free driving. Instead, the electrical assistance shaves off a bit of fuel consumption and CO2 expulsion here and there, while cutting the effects of lag from the various turbocharged engines it’s strapped to.
Every single one is 2.0 litres in size, most operating through a nine-speed automatic gearbox, with two diesels (180 and 240bhp) and two petrols (200 and 250bhp). A slower 150bhp diesel skips the hybrid tech and also comes with an old-fashioned manual, and represents the tempting £32k entry point to Land Rover ownership. You’ll be spending well into the forties (perhaps fifties) if you want a bigger engine and tastier styling, though.
As before, it’s described as a 5+2 seater; in plain English, it’s a seven-seat car with minimal boot space when you deploy its child-sized rear chairs. But for a car of its footprint – 4.6m long, 1.9m wide, the same as a Ford Focus Estate – that’s an impressive amount of flexibility which’ll go down a treat on that cliched school run.
The update has also brought bigger cubby holes, more charging ports, cupholders for rearmost passengers and a plethora of technology for those up front. The rear-view mirror now relays a camera feed – to double your field of vision behind – while there’s Android Auto and Apple CarPlay housed within Jaguar Land Rover’s latest widescreen media setup.
Not to mention a vast array of off-road gubbins. Before you argue they’re a little wasted, then some of it will actually prove useful away from those hypothetical green lanes. Namely ‘Ground View’, which relays yet more camera feeds to effectively let you see through the bonnet to beneath the car. It’s sold as a rock-crawling aid, but back here in the real world, width restrictors have suddenly become a lot less stressful…