2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport D240 HSE R-Dynamic
The new Defender is enjoying its moment in the sun right now, and barely anyone in the UK is interested in the (still new-ish) Discovery Sport Mk2. I’m surprised you’re even reading this.
But a recent drive of the Defender on the much-delayed UK launch helped highlight some of the strengths of the smaller Disco.
First of all, I was surprised how strained the 2.0-litre D240 engine felt in the Defender. It’s not terrible, but after the Discovery Sport, the 2.3-tonne 110 felt like it was making the turbodiesel work. Driving home in the lighter Discovery Sport, the same D240 engine felt perkier, quieter, more refined.
Same with the wind noise: at motorway speeds the wind starts to whoosh around the Defender’s more upright screen and A pillars. The Disco Sport just glides along.
2020 Land Rover Discovery Sport D240 HSE R-Dynamic inside
Still, I liked the Defender. I liked how beefy it felt; I couldn’t believe how small our Discovery Sport seemed after driving it. The 110 is 24cm taller and 42cm longer (if you include the spare wheel), and inside the Defender you can wave your arms and legs around like you’re doing the hokey-cokey, there’s so much head- and legroom. Climbing back into the Discovery Sport, it felt so compact and low to the ground – more like a regular car than an SUV. On balance, a more refined car to drive, with better body control and sweeter handling; but also more ordinary than the big, bold Defender.
This matters, because our D240 Disco Sport HSE cost Ј60k by the time we’d added options; the Defender 110 with the same engine is also Ј60k in HSE spec – albeit before options, but the standard equipment list isn’t shabby.
So which should you choose? Depends how you’ll use it: I’d say the Discovery Sport is more car-like, more comfortable and better on longer journeys; the Defender can do everything the Disco Sport can, but it feels big and blunt – a workhorse rather than an executive SUV.