Land Rover Discovery

Sport TD4 SE

Land Rover Discovery Sport, front
Land Rover Discovery Sport, front
Land Rover Discovery Sport, front
Land Rover Discovery Sport, front
Land Rover Discovery Sport, rear
Land Rover Discovery Sport, interior
Land Rover Discovery Sport, interior
Land Rover Discovery Sport, interior

FEW marques can boast the heritage of Land Rover -and none can claim a continuous production run of 67 years as the Midlands-based manufacturer did with the Defender which has finally been consigned to history.

Such a prestigious background, however place extra significance on any new model introductions.

So it was a surprise to many when the successful Freelander name was ditched in favour of the new Discovery Sport a couple of years ago. But the people at Land Rover had a trick or two up their sleeves.

The Sport was designed to seat seven, unlike its arch rivals Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC and BMW X3. True, the seats are small and best suited to children but that's fine with most buyers. Larger competitors with that final row of seats - Kia Sorento and Nissan X-Trail - are less upmarket.

With sharper lines and a more rakish stance than the old Freelander, the Land Rover Disco Sport actually appears more closely linked with prestigious Range Rover.

In fact, its underpinnings are borrowed from the stylish, if smaller Evoque, as is the 2.0-litre diesel. It also inherits an excellent nine-speed automatic gearbox.

The recently introduced Ingenium engine is much more refined and efficient than the original 2.2-litre unit. Gone is the gruff bark and diesel rattle and with 178bhp to play with acceleration is strong both in high gear or a pulling away from traffic lights. Top speed is 117mph and 62mph comes up in an acceptable 8.4 seconds.

But the Land Rover is much more about long-legged cruising and comfort than sprints and speed. The cabin is spacious, beautifully finished and more characterful than its German rivals.

For a large vehicle it is surprisingly nimble and athletic to drive.

The steering is quick, light and sharp with a reasonable amount of feedback and cornering roll is well controlled. It's much happier being hustled around bends than its big brother, the Discovery, and remains composed and assured. Inevitably though, it lacks some of the hot-hatch feel of the more compact Evoque.

There's little wind noise or mechanical vibration to mar a genuine air of calm. Road noise is also well muted. If weather or conditions turn hostile you have a choice between mud, sand, snow and rock modes as well as a hill-descent control to get you out of difficulty.

It's the most complete off-road armoury of any similarly priced SUV.

Luggage space in the rear of the Sport is massive. With the two small seats that form the back row folded, there's room for no less than 981 litres of luggage. Fold down the second row of seats and this expands to 1,698 litres.

Storage boxes, bottle holders and map pockets abound, making it an easy environment for family travel.

With emissions of 139g/km, the Discovery Sport proves. My average was 39.5mpg, while the official combined consumption is 53.3mpg.

Standard kit on the SE version includes heated windscreen, heated front seats, powered tailgate, climate control and front parking sensors.

The one extra I would specify is the glass panoramic roof - price £950 - which brightens up the cabin, though it's a shame it doesn't slide back to let in fresh air.

FAST FACTS

Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 SE

Price: £32,795

Mechanical: 178bhp, 1,998cc, 4cyldieselengine driving four wheels via 9-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 117mph

0-62mph: 8.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 53.3

Insurance Group: 31

C02 emissions: 139g/km

Bik rating: 22%

Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles

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