► SE Discovery Sport driven
► 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel
► Can you really buy a low-spec Landie?
Delving into Land Rover’s online configurator reveals that at the time of writing you can spend over £60,000 on a Discovery Sport. Sounds a lot, doesn’t it?
What if all you’re after is a hard-working four-wheel drive Disco without the bells and whistles?
Would such a car really be worth having – or should you spend your money on something with a less premium badge but a higher spec?
We’ve been driving a bread-and-butter £31,000 SE Discovery Sport to answer that very question. Note that the pictures are of a much higher trim…
Does it even come with four-wheel drive?
Thankfully, yes, it does. Although don’t take that for granted. Believe it or not there is a poverty-spec Pure model that comes with front-wheel drive only.
Moving swiftly on…
The four-wheel drive Discovery Sport we’re testing here is powered by a 148bhp 2.0-litre TD4 four-cylinder diesel engine capable of 0-60mph in 11 seconds and a top speed of 112mph. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard-fit.
So it’s not fast then?
Well, no. But to focus on performance figures would be to miss the point of this car entirely. What’s important here is whether there’s enough pulling power to haul the old girl along without holding up a milk float.
Which there is – with 280lb ft of torque on tap there’s enough low-down oomph to get you past a slow-moving lorry on an A-road, but if you plan to do anything more spirited we’d recommend at least the 178bhp variant. Whereas the shunt of torque from 1750rpm is encouraging, you do need to work the gearbox to keep the Disco’s engine at its most effective.
And while stirring the stick in a car as big as the Discovery Sport might sound like an unenviable task that should have been consigned to the history books, customers needn’t worry. Admittedly, first impressions aren’t good – the manual gearlever looks like it’s straight from the murky depths of the JLR parts bin – but slide it into a forward gear and all becomes right.
There’s none of the notches or imprecise action that you’ll often find with manual gearboxes in more premium cars, every shift engaging smoothly and without fuss. The clutch, too, is light and no more challenging than one found in your average family hatchback.
What’s the ride like on those 18-inch wheels?
You know what we’re going to say here – it’s noticeably better than models with larger 20-inch rims. There’s less road noise at speed and sharp bumps and potholes are dealt with in a way that won’t keep your local osteopath in Armani suits and Gucci brogues.
Thicker sidewalls also mean that you can engage in a spot of off-roading and not have to panic as much about scratching a priceless alloy on an errant pebble.
No magnetic damping on our largely standard test car meant the body wasn’t as well controlled as more well-equipped models, yet at no point did the 1.7-metre tall Landie feel like it was leaning unduly.
You still get Hill Descent Control and Terrain Response as standard, so serious off-roading is still well within the Discovery Sport’s remit.
And how much equipment do I get in SE spec?
Pretty much everything you’ll need to keep you sane during everyday use. Creature comforts such as dual-zone climate control and heated front seats are thrown in, as is lane departure warning, cruise control, rear parking sensors and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
Sat-nav is perhaps conspicuous in its absence, but then – as in any car – a cheap/free app on your phone will do the job.
Should you be scared of a low-spec Landie? Not at all. This SE-spec Discovery Sport plays the comfortable, practical, value-for-money card with aplomb and shows that you needn’t shy away from the bottom end of the range.
If you plan to do a lot of towing or frequently find yourself sitting in traffic jams, however, a punchier auto diesel would make more sense. Otherwise, enjoy this honest off-roader for what it is and revel in the small fortune you’ve saved over a pricier example.
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