Having just driven the 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport I am confident again to say that all-new models take a little while to ‘bed-in’.
I reckon the first batch of cars to come off a production line often have a few teething problems and it takes a little while for an new model to ‘get into its groove’.
That is exactly how I feel about the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
When I drove it mid-2015 the model was only just launched and the car that I drove had some issues with the climate control (it only functioned on the coldest setting) and I felt that the power steering just wasn’t right.
It had a real laboured feel when straightening the wheel and thus I walked away then feeling pretty disappointed, especially as the Discovery Sport is such a good-looking SUV.
Land Rover handed me the keys to a 2016 model last week and I have to say I was much more impressed.
The car felt better finished off, it seemed to ride better and was just a nicer package.
The climate issues and the steering complaint weren’t their either and this gave me a good chance to really get a feel for the seven-seat mid-size SUV offering.
My test car this time around was the SD4 SE grade Discovery Sport.
Powered by a 140kW/420Nm 2.2 litre turbo-diesel engine, the SD4 is a touch slow off the mark, but highly competent with some revs going on.
Pulling power and highway speeds are easily handled by the extremely quiet diesel engine.
Fuel economy was good, I average 9.5L/100km in a week of predominantly city/suburban driving, the official claimed combined figure is 6.1L/100km.
Out on the roads I really didn’t have any complaints about how the Land Rover drove. I thought the ride was excellent and the handling was confident.
The car I had was optioned up with the seven seats ($2,050), heated seats – front two rows ($1,280), heated steering wheel ($320) and Digital Radio ($560).
The four-segment Land Rover infotainment system is easy enough to use and syncing my phone was a quick and painless operation.
Programming the sat-nav also wasn’t a major issue, while the Discovery Sport picks up extra points for a plethora of USB and 12V charging points dotted around the cabin.
A decent-sized centre console storage bin and long and wide door pockets are also nice touches.
The third-row of seats is adequate for small children and access is easy and simple via the folding/sliding middle-row seat.
Everything inside the Land Rover Discovery Sport cabin had a nice feel about it and the model offers excellent sound absorption.
Complaints? Just two.
Firstly, the stop-start system, which in itself works alright, would see the air-conditioning get very warm/stale when the engine is switched off at the lights.
I found myself lifting my foot off the brake pedal to restart the engine prematurely because of this.
So, if you want to block the fumes coming into the cabin from the vehicles in front, you can only do this for a few minutes, then it switches back to the ‘fresh air’ setting.
Each time you switch off the engine, yep, it also goes back to the fresh setting.
I know that there is an argument about bringing fresh air into the cabin to avoid drowsiness etc. but I want the control, I don’t want the car doing this automatically.
Summing it up: The Land Rover Discovery Sport is a must-drive option if a premium mid-size SUV is on your horizon.
The diesel engine is a winner and Land Rover looks to have done a great job ironing out those early teething problems.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport SD4 SE
Engine: 2.2 litre turbo-diesel producing 140kW/420Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Safety: Five stars
Origin: United Kingdom
Price: from $59,595