Disco for family fun

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

THE latest Land Rover Discovery Sport diesel is a big production.

With five doors and seven seats it's bigger than the original three door Discovery - remember them?

At first glance it looks as though the low roofline might restrict interior space but, in fact, that wide body means there's plenty of room for five adults and two children in the small seats that pop up easily from the boot floor.

I drove the entry SE, which still tilts the scales at a hefty £36,600 in automatic four wheel drive form.

That's a large slice of money, but you do get an excellent vehicle that comes with most of the bells and whistles we need these days - if not with all the ones many owners want.

The first Sport diesels came with a 2.2-litre power unit that was a throwback to Ford's ownership of the company.

Now though, there's just as much power from a new 2.0-litre engine shared with sister company Jaguar for the XE and XF.

And it's very good in most ways, with plenty of performance under the right foot when needed, and government economy of over 50mpg.

That equates to a figure approaching 40mpg in real everyday driving with a gentle right foot, so trips to the pumps should be few and far between.

I drove the nine-speed automatic and it can seem a little slow to kickdown in drive mode. But the Jaguar-style rising gear selector in the centre console also boasts Sport and manual modes, Sport reacts much quicker so that it's well worth using when you're in a hurry.

The combination gives a great turn of acceleration from almost any speed but the engine is slightly noisier than the best two-litre diesels on the market.

A wide track and big wheels with very low profile tyres help towards great stability and strong grip in the corners and there's very little roll.

But this lack of roll - a combination of the tyres and anti-roll suspension - causes an uncomfortable sideways rocking motion on rougher country roads at speed.

It's not interminably horrible but does spoil the overall feel of the car because on smoother surfaces the ride is very good.

Refinement is excellent - as I would expect in a car costing this much - with just a little of the bump-thump prevalent in all 4x4s with big wheels and tyres.

There's big legroom in the back and even with the child seats in use in the boot, there is still a fair amount of shopping space.

SE spec includes part leather upholstery with heated front seats, 60/40 split second row seats that also slide to adjust leg room, a 10-speaker DAB sound system and an eight-inch touchscreen for audio, climate, phone and sat nav.

It has fingertip controls for 4x4 and off-road functions, an eco performance meter and ambient lighting (which can be turned off).

FAST FACTS

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Price:£36,600

Mechanical:177bhp, 1,999cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 9-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:117mph

0-62mph: 8.7 seconds

Combined MPG:53

Insurance Group:27

C02 emissions:139g/km

Bik rating:27%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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