I HAVE to admit I was quite a fan of the Freelander and when Land Rover announced it was being discontinued and a new replacement would be found I was a tad concerned.
But those fears were most definitely unwarranted as the Discovery Sport that took its place exceeded all expectations.
It's taken all the finest qualities of the Freelander and combined them with the go-anywhere capabilities of the Discovery and the result is a fantastic.
The Discovery Sport is a highly refined SUV that looks amazing, is dressed to the nines and offers very capable off-roading options along the way.
The seven-seat Discovery Sport looks sporty, athletic and muscular from any approach thanks to 20-inch alloy wheels, a clamshell bonnet, distinctive grille, pronounced wheel arches, a panoramic sunroof, xenon headlamps with LED signature and front fog lamps.
This particular model also featured a Santorini Black contrast roof costing an additional £500 that blended beautifully with the striking Phoenix Orange body work.
Move inside and the interior oozes premium class and is very Range Rover-like in its luxurious creature comforts and top notch techno treats.
Features include the finest Windsor leather upholstery, an 11-speaker sound system, a tablet-like touchscreen with swipe, scroll and drag functions, sat nav, a heated leather steering wheel, cooled and heated front seats with power adjustments, configurable ambient lighting, automatic wipers and lights, dual-zone climate control and much more besides.
In addition, it's worth noting that the Discovery Sport can venture safely from the road if necessary thanks to its Terrain Response system that can be set to deal with varying conditions with settings for normal roads, grass, gravel, snow, mud and ruts.
But for this drive we stuck strictly to the road clocking up just over 600 miles.
The car's in-house built Ingenium 2.0-litre diesel engine certainly impressed with a constant supply of power on tap and despite its size the Discovery Sport proved agile and deceptively fast.
It can sprint from 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds and onto a top speed of 117mph. According to official figures it can achieve combined fuel economy of 53.3mpg with carbon emissions of 139g/km.
In town centres the vehicle was very easy to manoeuvre and the high-seated driving position was an added bonus with cars and pedestrians darting out from all angles.
On motorways and open roads the Discovery Sport was an absolute pleasure to drive. It cruised effortlessly through the automatic nine-speed transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddles available if you want to take a little extra control.
The road-holding from this four-wheel-drive model was completely assured and the steering nice and precise.
Another impressive factor was how hushed the cabin remained - even at higher speeds it was well insulated against road surface, engine or any wind noise.
Comfort levels are very high and the extra two seats folded flat to the boot floor mean the vehicle can quickly be transformed into a very practical seven-seater.
The boot is accessed by a powered tailgate and storage options are good with a capacity of 194 litres as a seven seater which can be increased to 1,698 litres with seat rows two and three lowered.
Elsewhere there are plenty of handy storage compartments including a good-sized glovebox, deep central bin, cup holders and practical door pockets.