Parkers overall rating: 3.7 out of 5 3.7
  • All motors bar entry-level feature mild-hybrid tech
  • Plug-in hybrid to join the range later
  • Mixture of petrol and diesel; range broadly mirrors Evoque’s

What engine options are there?

The Land Rover Discovery Sport is offered with a broad range of engines, the vast majority of which feature fuel-saving mild-hybrid technology, but a PHEV version is available to order with deliveries due in the summer of 2020.

>> We rate the best hybrid SUVs for 2020

Diesel engines

Despite an industry-wide pushback against diesel cars, it’s likely that a majority of Discovery Sport owners will opt for the black pump. There’s plenty of choice within the range, though all are 2.0-litre, four-cylinder units.

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
D165 (manual) 163hp, 380Nm 10.2secs 112mph
D165 (automatic) 163hp, 380Nm 9.8secs 112mph
D200 204hp, 430Nm 8.3secs 117mph

The entry-level D165 is paired with a manual gearbox and front-wheel drive, making it unique with the rest of the range offering both all-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox . It also misses out on the mild-hybrid technology to cut down on emissions and fuel consumption.

2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport front dynamic

Petrol engines

There are just two petrol engines on offer. They’re badged P200 and P250 (with 200hp and 250hp, naturally) and, like the diesels, are both 2.0-litre four-cylinders. Even though they’re far more pleasant to rev, they don’t deal with the car’s bulk quite as well as the diesels and require working hard, which is hardly ideal for fuel economy.

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
P200 200hp, 320Nm 8.6secs 124mph
P250 249hp, 365Nm 7.5secs 124mph
P290 290hp, 400Nm 7.1secs 144mph

Where the petrols excel is refinement. Both of them are near-silent at a cruise and remain quiet the rest of the time, unless stretching into the upper echelons of the rev range.

2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport automatic gearbox

The ponderous nine-speed gearbox is still by far the biggest gripe, as it takes a brief pause before responding to throttle inputs. There are steering wheel-mounted paddles for you to change gear manually on higher-spec models, but even then, the response time is far too inconsistent. Curiously, you can alter the setting in the trip computer for the paddles to work when the gearbox is only in sportier S mode – rather than both normal D and S mode – but we wouldn’t recommend this as this makes it tricky to prepare for overtaking, or when you try and get up to speed with the traffic.

Plug-in hybrid version

The Discovery Sport is also available as a plug-in hybrid, badged P300e. This combines a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels with an electric motor propelling the rears. Offering low tax and impressive fuel economy, this one could work for a lot of buyers who are looking to move away from diesel, or mainly cover shorter journeys.

Engine Power and torque
0-62mph time
Top speed
P300e 309hp, 540Nm 6.5secs 134mph

How you want to use both motors depends on three drive modes available: Hybrid, EV and Save.

In Hybrid mode, the electric motor works together with the petrol engine seamlessly. It relies on the electric motor to nudge the Discovery Sport quickly off the line, with the petrol engine only kicking in to help out when more power is needed. You can stick to electric-only EV mode, too, which is perfectly fine for driving around town speeds, if a little lethargic on faster roads.

The P300e starts to struggle when the battery has depleted and you have to solely run on the small petrol engine. With 200hp available, this struggles to haul this two-tonne SUV – and that’s with just a driver on board. Downshifts take an age to happen, too, with a long pause between pulling the steering wheel paddle and the gearbox responding.  That said, this appears to be a common trait on other plug-in hybrids we’ve driven.

Thankfully the engine remains smooth and quiet, but it’s slow to rev and feels like hard work getting up to motorway speeds. If you can, limit the use of the petrol engine to cruising on the motorway/dual carraigeway, when you can also recharge the battery at the same time in Save mode.

Engines no longer available

The top-of-the-range diesel used to be badged D240. It didn’t feel quite as rapid as Land Rover claims – 0-60mph takes a reported 7.2 seconds. It’s also quite vocal, especially at higher revs. However, it’s got plenty of mid-range punch making overtaking a breeze, and when cruising it settles down to a refined thrum.

How does it handle?

  • Tidy handling and well-weighted steering
  • Quite a lot of body movement in the corners
  • Ride is exceptional even on large wheels

The Land Rover Discovery Sport isn’t intended to be a truly driver-focused SUV in the same way as the Porsche Macan, but it still drives very well. Head into the corners and while the car’s steering is a bit vague, it’s well-weighted and responds in a natural way, making this SUV very easy to pilot. This gives you a lot of confidence that the car’s going to go in the direction you point it. The brakes feel strong too.

2019 Land Rover Discovery Sport handling

Grip levels are high, but spirited driving displays a lot of body lean and movement which will likely see you adopt a more relaxed style of driving. If you do so, it’s just as well, as the Discovery Sport’s luxurious traits shines through. Pre-facelift models rode a little firmer but with little benefit in body control, so it’s good to see Land Rover decided to move away from this and focus on overall comfort.

Another area where the Discovery Sport outperforms its competition is when you head off the road and onto rough terrain. Land Rover’s Terrain Response 2 system is fitted to every model, and allows you to select the kind of terrain you’re on whether it be sand, mut and ruts, gravel or rocks – or, for even more peace of mind you can simply select ‘auto’ and let the car do the work itself.

Hill descent control is standard, and prevents the car from ‘running away’ down a hill, but also fitted to all cars is Forward Progress Control. This essentially keeps the car moving constantly at a steady pace regardless of whether it’s going up or downhill, and is great for novice off-roaders.

This is where Land Rover’s heritage shines through, and it’s no stretch to say that the Discovery Sport is easily the best vehicle in this class at tackling off-road terrain, as its carefully honed four-wheel drive system is far more capable than that in the Skoda Kodiaq or Hyundai Santa Fe.