Land Rover Discovery Sport vs BMW X3 & Hyundai Santa Fe

New Freelander-replacing Discovery Sport takes on BMW and Hyundai

It’s the dawn of a new era for Land Rover, as the big-selling Freelander has been laid to rest and replaced by the Discovery Sport

The newcomer is bigger than its predecessor, there are now seven seats, and it takes its styling cues from the Range Rover, both inside and out. To find out if the new Brit has what it takes to succeed, we’ve lined up two rivals that will test all its abilities. 

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The seven-seat Hyundai Santa Fe is our current large SUV champion, and the Premium SE model is well equipped, yet undercuts the Discovery Sport on price. Then there’s the BMW X3. While it’s not a seven-seater, this SUV will test the Land Rover’s premium credentials, as well as its fuel efficiency.

Can the Discovery Sport deliver a winning combination of practicality and luxury, while still maintaining Land Rover’s tradition for building great off-road machines?

Land Rover Discovery Sport review

BMW X3 review

Hyundai Santa Fe review


Third-row seats

There are two seats in the boots of the Land Rover and Hyundai, but they’re quite small – so unless you’re carrying children, they’re only really for occasional use. Go for a lower-spec Santa Fe, and you can save £1,200 by opting for five seats, and get a bigger boot in the process. The Discovery Sport is only sold in the UK as a seven-seater, although if there’s sufficient customer demand, it may be offered as a five-seater later in the year.


As it emits 166g/km, the Discovery Sport sits three road tax bands higher than the 138g/km X3, and will cost company buyers more. The Santa Fe lags well behind its rivals here, thanks to the lack of stop/start. Go for the manual, and emissions of 159g/km are still some way short of the X3’s.


These three cars are perfect for towing. The Santa Fe and X3 are capable of pulling two tonnes, but the Discovery Sport edges ahead with a 2.2-tonne maximum. Land Rover offers a detachable tow bar for £675, while BMW’s £765 version hooks up to the ESP to add trailer stability control.

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1st place: Land Rover Discovery Sport

It’s first blood to the new Discovery Sport. Land Rover has taken the Freelander formula and brought it up to date with stylish design, a premium interior and refined road manners. It’s spacious and practical, well equipped for the price, while excellent off-road ability is a cheeky bonus. The seven-seat layout isn’t the roomiest around, but it doesn’t harm overall practicality in any way.

2nd place: BMW X3 

The X3 is still a strong contender in the compact SUV class, thanks to its excellent combination of efficiency, performance and sharp handling. It’s also well equipped and roomy, but an overly firm ride and the noisy diesel take the edge off driving comfort. The lack of seven seats isn’t really an issue, though, as it’s still a practical five-seat family car.

3rd place Hyundai Santa Fe

There’s no disgrace in the Santa Fe finishing third here. Only a few years ago, you wouldn’t have considered a Hyundai over its premium rivals, but while the SUV is roomy and well equipped, it’s thirsty, has ponderous handling and doesn’t quite have the premium feel of its rivals. We’d save some cash and go for the excellent Premium manual model instead.

Key specs:

 Land Rover Discovery Sport 2.2 SD4 HSE autoBMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport autoHyundai Santa Fe 2.2 CRDi Premium SE auto
On-the-road price/total as tested£39,395/£40,815£37,940/£37,940£37,105/£37,690
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£21,116/53.6%£19,691/51.9%£15,844/42.7%
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£2,265/£4,530£1,737/£3,474£2,276/£4,551
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,803/£3,006£1,715/£2,859£2,029/£3,382
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost31/£389/H/£20531/£389/E/£13020/£402/I/£225
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£499 (5yrs/50k)£425 (5yrs/50k)£799 (5yrs)
Engine4cyl in-line/2,179cc4cyl in-line/1,995cc4cyl in-line/2,199cc
Peak power/revs187/3,500 bhp/rpm187/4,000 bhp/rpm194/3,800 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs420/1,750 Nm/rpm400/1,750 Nm/rpm436/1,800 Nm/rpm
Transmission9-spd auto/4WD8-spd auto/4WD6-spd auto/4WD
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel65 litres/£15067 litres/run flats64 litres/full size
Boot capacity (seats up/down)981/1,698 litres550/1,600 litres516/1,615 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,863/737/2,200kg1,745/620/2,000kg2,001/599/2,000kg
Turning circle11.6 metres11.9 metres10.9 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs5yrs (unlimited)/5yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers16k miles (1yr)/130Variable (1yr)/15320k miles (1yr)/162
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.20th/28th10th/22nd18th/13th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars93/83/69/5 (2014)88/83/53/5 (2011)96/89/71/5 (2012)
0-60/30-70mph9.0 (wet)/9.2 secs8.3/8.2 secs8.7/8.7 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.3/3.6 secs3.4/3.8 secs3.4 secs (kickdown)
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th/9th5.5/7.1/8.6/11.0s/N/A7.5/9.1 secs/N/A5.3 secs (kickdown)
Top speed/rpm at 70mph117mph/1,600rpm130mph/1,750rpm118mph/1,950rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph63.1/45.3/12.8m (wet)46.7/33.3/9.0m58.2/41.7/11.6m*
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph69/42/59/68dB72/46/62/68dB69/48/59/66dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range35.0/7.7/500 miles36.8/8.1/542 miles31.1/6.8/438 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined38.2/49.6/44.8mpg49.6/56.5/54.3mpg31.7/51.4/41.5mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined8.4/10.9/9.9mpl10.9/12.4/11.5mpl7.0/11.3/9.1mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket216/166g/km/29%206/138g/km/23%243/178g/km/31%
Airbags/Isofix/park assist/cameraSeven/yes/£600/yesSix/yes/yes/£330Seven/yes/no/yes
Auto box/adaptive cruise/tow barYes/no/£675Yes/£1,400/£765Yes/no/£510 (DFO)
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes
Met paint/xenons/panoramic roof£600/£375/yes£645/£610/£1,190£585/yes/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yesY/y/£175 (DFO)/y

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