Land Rover Discovery Sport review: Voyage of Discovery

Leow Ju Len

land rover disco sport review singapore

Seven seats (or 5+2) make the Disco Sport a tempting family buy, but is there more to justify the hefty price tag?

SINGAPORE — A Land Rover Discovery Sport costs either side of a quarter of a million bucks here in Singapore. Who in their right minds would park a car like that in a pool of water, throw all the doors open to flood the interior and let it soak there for half an hour, only to come back to see if it’ll start up and drive away?

The chaps at Land Rover, for a start. That’s just one of the many tests of ruggedness the Discovery Sport is subjected to before it can go on sale, because a Land Rover that can’t survive the worst of Mother Nature’s tantrums has no place in the world, much like a front-drive, seven-seat BMW. Oh, wait, never mind.

Wading through water 600mm deep and scaling slopes 45 degrees steep are some of the things that the Discovery Sport can do that rivals can’t. It even has a tricky system that tweaks the throttle response, gearbox, four wheel drive system and so on to optimise it for various terrain.

You might find that sort of thing genuinely useful, or maybe all that butch versatility tickles your manly fancy. Whatever it is, all of that gives the Disco Sport something of a USP (that’s “unique selling proposition”, in case you don’t speak Marketing).

That’s important, because to be honest about it, the Land Rover doesn’t offer a huge amount of car for the money. If you never leave tarmac, it’s hard to imagine what it can do that a Kia Sorento can’t, really.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. Peradventure, it might impress your neighbours more. For one thing, the looks are a winner, the Disco’s lines being both smooth and chunky in the right places.

You might expect Victoria Beckham to climb out of a Range Rover Evoque (a car that shares much with this one under the skin), but it’s the Indy Jones type you wouldn’t be surprised to see emerging from the Disco Sport.

The target buyer, though, might well be the family man. This Disco has a maximum occupancy of seven, after all (though Land Rover prefers to say it has 5+2 seats). That’s because the rearmost chairs are fairly narrow. Here, see for yourself.

land rover discovery sport rear seating
I fit quite nicely back there, but then I’m slender, and not very tall. I wouldn’t mind sitting back there for a spell (especially if the other occupant were, say, Victoria Beckham from 1994) because the Row Three area has its own air-con blower, albeit a deucedly noisy one.

But Row Two is where you really want to be, not least because there’s space enough there for you, Ginger and Baby (two of Posh’s chubbier ex-colleagues). The chairs there recline, and they glide fore-and-aft by as much as 160mm, in the process altering legroom along with boot space. For the record, you can hurl 194, 981 or 1698 litres of stuff into the back, depending on how many seats you’re using.

Land Rover says the middle row seats are mounted 50mm higher than the front chairs to give passengers a good view out, too.

If there’s a complaint about the Disco Sport’s seating, it’s the fact that with the chairs pulled up, you have nowhere to stow the luggage cover.

In other areas the Disco is better thought-out than that. Landy’s engineers apparently invited families into a fleet of SUVs and watched them do their thing. That explains why the Disco Sport has more USB charging points in it than a human hand has fingers, and also accounts for the deep door pockets and storage spaces scattered around the cabin.

landrover discovery sport singapore
Assuming there’s still a keen driver inside every family man, the Discovery Sport puts a turbo engine and nine-speed transmission on the table. It’s a heavy car, though, so the performance isn’t as fizzy as you’d expect. The Land Rover sometimes feels laboured in the middle of a sprint.

And though the press material makes much of the Disco’s rear suspension, the handling is ruined by its all-terrain tyres anyway. They squeal early, don’t grip tarmac that well, and offer less feedback than a happy Singaporean customer.

There are other letdowns that you don’t have to look particularly hard for, too. If you don’t know what town your destination is in according to the satnav system, prepare to hunt for the street name. To locate Hillview Avenue, for instance, do you first key in Upper Bukit Timah? Bukit Batok? Where?

The cabin, while nice enough, in no way feels posh enough to justify the car’s price tag. Indeed, that seems to be the Land Rover’s main problem. As much as it’s an attractive-looking car that tries to be as true as possible to its maker’s DNA, the Discovery Sport doesn’t hit the mark on as many levels as you’d expect for the money.

Ultimately, it’s a decent family car being sold at luxury car prices. Floodwaters are one thing, but right there is a bit of cold water the Disco Sport might find tough to overcome.

disco sport review singspore

NEED TO KNOW Land Rover Discovery Sport Si4 HSE
Engine 1,999cc, 16V, turbo inline-four
Power 240hp at 5800rpm
Torque 340Nm at 1750rpm
Gearbox 9-speed automatic
Top Speed 199km/h
0-100kmh 8.2 seconds
Fuel Efficiency 8.3L/100km
CO2 197g/km
Price $260,000 with COE
Availability Now


5-door 7 seat discovery sport land rover petrol Si4 HSE SUV

About the Author

Leow Ju Len

CarBuyer Singapore's original originator, Ju-Len in person is exactly how he is on the written word and behind the wheel. Meaning that he darts all over the place and just when you thought he's lost the plot, you realise that it's just you not keeping up with his incredible rate of speed and thought.

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