ONCE upon a time the Land Rover Discovery or Disco to its friends was a brick on wheels, a military service inspired beast that tore up the trails and a dedicated four wheel drive with luxury appointments, and in reality not much has changed.
But its twin brother, or twin sister as the case may be, is much better looking. The 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE is a stylish, refined and classy driving experience which draws much of its design cues from the Range Rover Sport and Evoque models (which just happen to come from the same Jaguar Land Rover stable).
The Discovery Sport HSE in its SD4 incarnation (as tested) features a 2.2L four cylinder turbo-diesel engine generating 140kW of power and 420Nm of torque and manages 0-100km/h in a respectable 8.9 seconds with a reasonably impressive fuel economy of 6.3L/100km. A nine-speed paddle shift automatic transmission helps maximise your engagement with the spirited but very noisy engine.
Externally, there’s front and rear parking sensors with rear view camera (with visual guidance and hitch assist function), automatic Xenon headlamps with LED signature and automatic High Beam Assist (AHBA), rear LED lamps, silver exterior paint finishes to grille, fender vents, and front and rear valances, and power adjusted heated power-fold exterior mirrors with memory.
A powered tailgate and 19″ five split-spoke ‘style 521’ alloy wheels complete the package which pitches itself directly at the luxury mid-sized SUV’s two biggest players – the Audi Q5 and BMW’s X3 – and in reality is a very nice vehicle to drive.
Inside, it features grained leather climate controlled seats (which also include 10-way power controls, electric lumbar and memory), a state-of-the-art navigation system, Land Rover’s signature 250 watt 11 speaker sound system with 8-inch colour touch screen infotainment centre, a volumetric alarm system, and configurable mood lighting.
Safety features and driver assistance options abound, with an active terrain response system, intelligent stop/start, hill descent control, ABS, traction control, power assisted steering, hill start, roll stability control, dynamic stability control and trailer stability control for towing.
Solid suspension comes from McPherson struts at the front, and integral coil springs at the rear, with a multitude of air bags, electric parking brake, emergency brake assist (EBA), Electric Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) completing an extensive safety package.
Exterior styling is modern but it doesn’t quite have the wow factor of something like the Evoque (on which it’s actually based), while inside the look and feel is great but the reality is not quite the same – the seats are a little uncomfortable and the overall interior build quality not quite there. The full glass roof is exceptional though and was a stand out feature for us.
Loaded with space, the HSE is definitely family friendly but in what is a slight disappointment from a wife and kids perspective, while the five seat 4WD can be turned into a 7-seater it’s a paid for optional extra rather than a standard feature.
There are some quirky technology features that we really liked, despite some effort to navigate the touch screen system, with lane formation notifications and a transient vibration for when a lane change occurs without indicators. If this innovation saves a life by helping a fatigued driver stay focused, then Land Rover is on a winner.
Sure footed on the highway and offering decent performance on winding mountain roads, it would be remiss of us to not talk about the off-road capabilities of this luxury SUV. Land Rover has legend status when it comes to off-road, and the Discovery Sport HSE is no different.
It performs as well as, if not better, than the awesome Freelander it replaced and for those looking to marry high end luxury and a quality off-road experience, the HSE SD4 offers a real option among a bevy of competitors that all have very different pros and cons.
Priced from $63,600 plus on-roads, the Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE SD4 also offers a range of optional wheel packages (in 19 and 20-inch), and add-on style packages (an overall different look, with altered roof glass and colourings, and customised wheel packages) and comes in a whopping 12 colours.
The extensive colour palette includes Fuji White (as tested), Indus Silver, Corris Grey, Santorini Black, Loire Blue, Aintree Green, Kaikoura Stone, Firenze Red, Scotia Grey, Yulong White, Phoenix Orange and Waitomo Grey.
Our test vehicle was provided by Jaguar Land Rover Australia. To find out more about the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE, contact your local Jaguar Land Rover dealer.