Land Rover Discovery Sport gets a new platform

At first glance, the updates to the new Land Rover Discovery Sport facelift seem visual. It is on the inside that the changes are obvious

April 14, 2020 04:23 pm | Updated 04:24 pm IST

A facelift generally involves a car receiving a few cosmetic and equipment upgrades and, in some cases, even a new engine. However, the changes on the updated 7-seat SUV are quite extensive. The mid-cycle update has not only brought in revised styling, more equipment and BS-VI-compliant engines, but also a new platform. The Discovery Sport is now underpinned by the new Premium Transverse Architecture — the same platform that underpins the brand-new Range Rover Evoque.

First impression

At first glance, the updates do seem visual. The model’s basic profile and styling are all very familiar; but there are elements similar to the ones on the larger, full-size Discovery, especially around the front — the bumper is now smoother, more aggressive, and has a lot more girth to it, at least visually. Seen here is the entry-level S variant, which gets a pronounced silver skid plate with unpainted claddings around the edges and sides. The grille is painted in a similar shade of silver and sports the typical Land Rover honeycomb design. The headlamps look sharper, akin to the ones on the bigger Discovery, with new LED daytime running lights and LED lighting standard across variants. Changes to the side and rear are minimal. However, it gets new wheels and an updated bumper sporting a set of new LED tail-lights with detailed lighting elements.

Changes inside

It is on the inside that the changes are obvious. For starters, the rotary-knob gear selector is gone, replaced with a more traditional lever. You also have a bigger and much nicer-looking, matte-finished, soft-touch dashboard with open-pore wood inserts. There is also a large, 10.0-inch touchscreen with a brand-new user interface, and a gloss-black centre console that houses the climate control and drive mode functions. While the top-spec variant gets a fully digital instrument cluster, the base S variant gets a part-digital, part-analogue cluster that looks like a bit of an afterthought at first but is actually well implemented. This variant misses out on the ‘ClearSight’ rear-view camera and mirror screen package, but Land Rover has kept features like the massive panoramic sunroof and powered tailgate.

One of the main draws of the Land Rover Discovery Sport has been its 7-seat layout, and this continues to the updated model. But while there is a decent amount of space, the rear seat offers slightly less under-thigh support. Also, the seats — both front and rear — are overly firm and just don’t feel as plush as some of its rivals. The third row is best reserved either for children or for short trips, as there just isn’t enough space for an adult to comfortably spend an extended amount of time there.

Land Rover has updated the Discovery Sport with a set of BS-VI-compliant, 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines. The unit we have here is the D180, which makes 180hp and 430Nm of torque. The first thing you notice about this engine is how the NVH levels are significantly lower now. While there is still some gruffness and it cannot really match the level of refinement of German cars, it is an improvement over the earlier Discovery. The engine is mated to a 9-speed torque converter that is now more responsive compared to what it was earlier — both in Drive and Sport modes. If your right leg is light enough, the Discovery Sport will be happy to cruise around in 9th gear at speeds as low as 80kph, something most other SUVs with as many gears do not do. That said, when you do pin the throttle down and munch through the revs, power delivery begins to taper off rather quickly with a mildly disappointing top-end performance.

The difference in handling

If you have spent some time behind the wheel of the pre-facelift Discovery Sport, you will notice the difference in handling. The steering gives you confidence in corners, though it is a bit on the heavier side, which might be a bit off-putting to urban users. Ride quality over extremely bad and broken roads is noteworthy, and it cushions out the worst of Indian roads quite well. On the flip side, the SUV does pick up the small ridges and partly broken stretches; and there is also discernible body roll while changing lanes or cornering hard.

Makes a strong case for itself

So, is the update big enough for you to take notice? Yes, the SUV certainly shows a remarkable improvement over the pre-facelift Discovery Sport. Its engine refinement is still off the mark compared to its rivals and its handling is not as sharp; but it does offer a contemporary look, a cabin packed with tech (especially the R-Dynamic variant), the option to seat seven in a pinch, and of course, if you intend, the ability to go off-road with relative ease. What is more, with pricing that undercuts most of its rivals, the Discovery Sport facelift does make a strong case for itself.

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