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Review: 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE

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Mark Holgate is the driving force behind Exhaust Notes Australia, one of this country's premier automotive websites, with in excess of 1 million visits every year, and literally hundreds of car reviews and motoring stories.

With more than 20 years experience as a journalist, and five years as a professional blogger, he brings a wealth of knowledge about cars, bikes and everything in between.

This seven-seat SUV market, it’s crowded, you know. Actually, it’s really crowded and getting more so every day. So to stand out from the crowd in the seven seat SUV market, your product has to be better than good, it has to be exceptional.

It can’t be monstrously expensive, either, because people on the hunt for a luxury SUV that doesn’t cost the earth are a discerning lot. Enter the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE. A feature-packed luxury seven-seat SUV with a sub-$80,000 price tag.

A pleasure to drive.

A pleasure to drive... the 2017 Land Rover Discover Sport

But does it hit the ‘exceptional’ mark? Well, for the most part yes, for a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is the brand new Ingenium 2.0-litre turbo diesel engine. Gone is the previous 2.2-litre turbo diesel, with its reputation for being noisy, like truck noisy, and laggy as well.

In its place, a much quieter, more civilised 110kW power plant that offers a good overall driving experience, with 380Nm of torque available when you need it. Put your foot down and the power feeds on quite nicely, with minimal lag, and limited fuss. With the addition of improved sound proofing, you almost can’t hear the engine doing its thing.

Fuel economy from the 65-litre tank is claimed to be an exceptional 5.3L/100km, although we couldn’t seem to drag it below 6L/100km thanks to a lot of stop-start Sydney traffic. The HSE is fitted with a 9-speed automatic transmission and gear changes are exceptional. We don’t think we made it to ninth though and wonder why so many gears. It has a 2.2 tonne towing capacity.

The Discovery Sport handles well on the road, and we found it to be very nice to drive on a number of surfaces, from highways to rough roads, and even some dirt and gravel. It performed well in the beaming sun and pouring rain – such has been the weather in NSW over the last few weeks, we had the chance to see its all-weather capabilities.

It can be a little rugged at low speed when going properly off-road thanks mostly to the suspension system on offer, but if you were looking for something designed to be a true off-roader, then the likes of the Isuzu MU-X or Skoda’s new Kodiaq (which lacks a diesel option for now) are probably better options.

Inside though, there’s plenty of technology to play with including paddle shifters, 10-way electric heated and cooled front seats, keyless entry and push button start, lane departure warning systems, the usual parking aids, a gesture tailgate, SatNav and a really good infotainment system.

Safety too is paramount for Land Rover, and there’s plenty to keep you on-track as it were. The 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE features hill descent control, ABS, traction control, power assisted steering, electronic brake force distribution, hill start assist, roll and dynamic stability control, and trailer stability control.

The front seats are very flat, and while nice to sit in, are not super comfortable if you’re above average height. Good but not great if you like. The middle seats are super roomy though and much more comfortable than the front seats.

The third row seats though are genuinely only suitable for kids that no longer need a booster seat that has to be anchored, so we’re talking about your tween sized child, and while that might seem like a downside, most seven seat SUV owners are using it to ferry around kids and their mates anyway, so it’s not that bad.

One of the things that truly sets Land Rover apart though, and its sister brands of Range Rover and Jaguar for that matter, is the astounding level of customisation available in the ‘look and feel’ department. You truly can create your very own Land Rover Discovery Sport, and be sure that few people will have made similar choices.

A total of 16 colours are available in the HSE spec Land Rover Discovery Sport, including Fuji White, Indus Silver, Corris Grey, Santorini Black, Loire Blue, Aintree Green, Kiakoura Stone, Firenze Red, Scotia Grey, Yulong White, Phoenix Orange, Waitomo Grey, Silicon Silver, Farallon Black, Carpathian Grey, and Aruba (our test vehicle colour).

But the customisation doesn’t stop with simple colour choices, there are six roof options, including body colour and gloss black, as well as three styles of fixed panoramic roof. Our test vehicle came with the gloss black contract choice. Likewise, 20-inch Style 511 5-spoke wheels were part of our ride, chosen from the 11 wheel options available.

Believe it or not, we’re not done yet either, there are six different interior styling combinations, including a multitude of leather colour choices, and two infotainment systems. The first of these is the standard option, and includes the 380W Meridian 10-speaker sound system, while the digital sound system version features an 825W 16-speaker (plus sub woofer) sound system.

Oh, and did we forget to say there are a total of 20, yes 20, optional add on packs, to truly customise your ride. Our test vehicle came with the full Black Design pack, which gave us the black wheels chosen earlier, and black badging and branding everywhere, as well as black inserts at all the key grill points.

In its standard specifications (without the entertainment pack and the uber-cool black design pack), you’ll need to spend around $67,500, while the add-on packs will require some additional spend, with each option you add or remove, altering the final price, which could be a painful process if you’re working to a budget.

Our road test vehicle was provided by Jaguar Land Rover Australia. If you would like to know more about the 2017 Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE (TD4150), your local Land Rover dealer.

  • Read more from Exhaust Notes: Ride On: 2017 Harley-Davidson Street 500
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