2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport – Anything You Do, I Can Do Better. Or Can I?

The good thing about the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is that it’s a Land Rover. The bad thing about it is that I drove the Ford Escape the week before. Spoiler alert: the Rover does not win.

There’s something mythical about taking the wheel of a British vehicle. They’re all so elite, elegant and… elementary? (adjective in “el” + Sherlock Holmes reference. That works.) They reign in an exclusive category of their own. They don’t fit in the usual realm of racy “Europeans”; they have a snobbish air about them we are fascinated with. Like the Royal Family of cars. So I felt a little intimidated taking the wheel of the Discovery Sport. I felt like I had gone from “girl next door” to “high profile urban girl”, and that instead of being offered beer at the bar, I’d be receiving a glass of Champagne. Sadly, I also started feeling like a phony in no time, as though my new-found, high-end profile was actually the work of an eminent plastic surgeon. Because, as awesome as the Land Rover Discovery looks and feels, I also find it to be slightly overrated.

The quality of the Discovery Sport is undeniable. It made me love leather seats and that’s saying a lot. I always find them too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, when you would need them to be the exact opposite. And yet I couldn’t keep my hands off of them. That’s the Kobe beef of leather for you. The cabin feels extremely refined and despite the dark and rich trimmings, the moonroof makes sure to keep the space open and airy. The British do know a thing or two hundred about luxury. And of course, the comfort is irreproachable, both in the handling and in the seating. But that dashboard is so, so plain. You would expect a pièce de résistance worthy of the elegant ensemble, but I can’t even call the console “elegant”. It’s just bland. At least you have access to all the necessary features such as navigation, satellite radio, climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and others. That is, once you figure out how to navigate the computer. It feels as though Land Rover had to do things differently in terms of interface, you know, to stand out some more. Different doesn’t always mean good. I am also still debating whether I like the button shifter or not. Some people find it nicely complements the cockpit design, so I will let you make up your own mind about it.

The Land Rover Discovery Sport also comes with a good selection of safety and security features, some more usual than others, including Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist, Terrain Response, Pedestrian Protection System *gasp for air*, Dynamic Stability Control, Roll Stability Control, Electric Brake Force Distribution and many, many more. So no matter what happens, you can feel absolutely safe in your Land Rover. Here’s your 5-star rating.

The SUV also gets points for its exterior design that follows Land Rover’s new and refreshed guidelines, with a front part that will undeniably remind you of the Discovery’s little brother, the Evoque. It works and it actually looks pretty darn good. Only, instead of the sloping roof line of the Evoque, you get a capable, full-size vehicle with a protruding rear-end, good cargo capacity and up-to seven seats. Then you pop the hood open and you initially get excited about the perspective of a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbo. 240 horsepower, 340 lb-ft of torque: that all sounds like a lot of fun. Sadly, it isn’t. See, I have come to like turbocharged engines and have high expectations of them. I like how responsive and instantaneous they can be.  There’s nowhere in the world I need 500hp and a 300-kph top speed. Other than on the Autobahn and I haven’t made any travel plans to Germany yet. Not that I would complain receiving the keys to a car that can get me that… But I like high torque and dizzying accelerations, they make me giddy. But the Discovery Sport did not give me that. It actually made me want to cry a little. The turbo lag is off-putting. Once it kicks in and decides to cooperate, you can get a pretty decent acceleration out of it, but the time it takes to get there is what will make the difference between being able to react quickly or not. Not even the Sport mode add much to it. However, I’ll give it to the 8-speed automatic transmission, it does a good job and it doesn’t feel choppy. Plus, the paddleshifters do allow you to downshift and accelerate more efficiently, but it’s not enough to fill up the gap the turbo lag has left in my heart.

Living in the city sort of limits your access to dirt roads so sadly, I was not able to take full advantage of the AWD system and of the different off-road driving modes, but at the touch of a button, you can adapt the handling, the suspensions and the torque distribution of the vehicle, whether you are facing a snowstorm or sand dunes, if you find any. But the option is there and we can all appreciate that. So all and all, the $53k+ price tag of the version I drove will get you great manufacturing quality and materials. Oh! And the British racing green Land Rover name tag. But that’s about it. When the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport was first introduced, it understandably received a lot of attention as a new member of the Royal Family. I mean, look at it! There’s a legacy and a certain prestige attached to the brand, and that is pretty much what you pay for. Everything else, you will easily find on board other, similar vehicles, offered at a better price.

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Sabrina is a woman who loves cars, but hates writing her own biography.

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