I cannot help but feel the company’s product planners got it wrong when the first member of the new Discovery family was brought to market with the old SD4 engine rather than the new eD4 Ingenium power unit, which is now being offered. As it was with my SD4 powered model, it barely showed its age and matched to the svelte nine-speed automatic transmission it was smooth and responsive if not as economical as I hoped.
This is probably good enough for most buyers who do not have to concern themselves with BIK tax on emissions, which are lower with the newest engine, but who, instead, want a very stylish and immensely practical Sports Utility Vehicle.
UK spec is a five-plus-two seating arrangement with occasional pop up seats concealed in the luggage floor. In five-door guise it offers a good loadspace and there’s excellent access throughout, but lift the rearmost pair of seats and you have to be nimble or a child to climb into them and useful baggage room drops below 200 litres. With the rear pair of seven seats in use, the luggage capacity is a paltry 194 litres, but it can be gradually increased to 1698 litres maximum behind the below waist-height rear sill and powered tailgate in the HSE Luxury model tested.
Like all Landies it will wade 90cms of water, about half way up the doors, so you can face the coming winter with a wry and dry smile on your face. Underneath you have a full intelligent 4×4 transmission with a simple rotary switch to define normal or sporting modes and the electronics sharpen responses and handling as necessary.
The powertrain is slightly noisy with a booming engine and some mechanical rumbles under load but it cruises smoothly and you can push it towards 45mpg, but our test car averaged about 35mpg overall and a mixture of roads.
The Discovery Sport steers and stops quickly and its handling in town is nimble while it’s agile on country roads and there is no body roll or pitching to upset occupants.
Secondary switches can be confusing to master at first with a plethora of wheel-mounted buttons and stalks, up or down-change paddles for the box and a packed console around the big infotainment display and the smaller screen infront of the driver was not as easy to navigate through as I wished. Dials were large and clear, well marked and lit at night.
Big wipers and bright lights kept you safe in poor conditions and the reversing camera was useful with a limited rear view over the shoulder. Heating and ventilation worked very well throughout the big cabin, with powered windows and a huge fixed sunroof hidden behind a powered blind. Seats were very big and comfortable with excellent adjustment range in front and the Discovery Sport offered a lot of oddments space for a family to stow items for a weekend or holiday away.
However it was loaded, the Discovery Sport rode really well over any surface. It soaked up the biggest bumps without complaint but with some noise, and it covered some big field- undulations with ease and without putting a wheel wrong.
At speed it held onto the road with assured confidence but once or twice I found myself wishing it had a little more get up and go from low revs. and it was much more willing in the Sport mode, which you have to select each time you want it.
The Discovery Sport is a stunning looking vehicle with easily recognizable DNA from the Range Rover, both outside and in, and its all weather, all road capability will endear it to country living families or those who like to get off the beaten track for active leisure pursuits. It is easy to understand why it has been such a success and rock solid newcomer for the Land Rover family.
|Fast facts:||Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE Luxury|
|Price: £45,995 inc. upgraded infotainment, climate control||Insurance group: 38E|
|Mechanical: 190ps 4cyl 2.2 litre turbo-diesel, 9sp auto, 4WD.|
|Max speed: 117mph||0-60mph: 8.4sec|
|Combined mpg: 35mpg||CO2 emissions: 166gkm|
|BIK rating: 31%||Warranty: 3yrs/ Unlimited|