Bull's eye for

latest Disco Sport

Land Rover Discovery Sport, 2019, side, North Yorkshire Experience Centre
Land Rover Discovery Sport, 2019, front, static
Land Rover Discovery Sport, 2019, side, static
Land Rover Discovery Sport, 2019, rear, static
Land Rover Discovery Sport, 2019, interior
Land Rover Discovery Sport, 2019, boot
Land Rover Discovery Sport, 2019, rear, off road

THE secret of any mid-life refresh is whether the new car puts its predecessor in the shade.

Maybe the facelifted model looks little different, but if it drives and feels better and is more useful, then a manufacturer has hit the bull's-eye.

So take a bow Land Rover, which has just launched its heavily revised Discovery Sport - their most popular model globally.

True, from the outside it looks very familiar. But with a new platform, fresh mild hybrid engines and a greater refinement plus a pepped-up cabin with considerably more clutter-room it is a majorly different vehicle.

The changes, four years after its inception, put it in pole position to compete with the new wave medium-sized SUVs being turned out by Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Audi and BMW.

Within just a few miles of driving the latest car, its superiority over the old model becomes obvious.

Entry model is the non-hybrid, 148bhp diesel with six-speed manual gearbox and front drive. The rest of the line-up is treated to mild hybrid 2.0-litre, four cyllinder power units, nine-speed ZF auto box and all wheel drive.

Best seller is expected to be the diesel D180 which is well endowed with torque, making it a good towing machine, yet frugal enough to fit the bill for family motoring. There's also a more powerful diesel - the D240 and two petrol versions , the P200 and the more powerful P250.

The cabin, though familiarly styled, is refreshed with a revised 10-inch infotainment centre which now incorporates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The screen is quicker to use and more responsive. Heater controls remain separate, no bad thing.

There's no less than 48litres of space for oddments and family bits and pieces, answering a previous criticisms of the Disco Sport.

Elsewhere, the boot holds up to 1,794 litres of luggage. Three rows of seats accommodating seven passengers are standard. The final row is best suited for youngsters.

Prices range from £31,375 for the D150, but that's not four-wheel-drive and neither is it hybrid powered, to £41,375 for the P250. It's an extra £1,500 for the R-Dynamic pack which includes huge 21-inch alloys - maybe an unnecessary adornment if offroading is your bag.

Step out of an original Discovery Sport into the newcomer and you can't help but be impressed by the hushed cabin and the ride smoothness. A 10 per cent improvement in body stiffness plus the new platform has paid dividends in boosting refinement.

It also handles better, being ample to sweep over poor surfaces without losing composure. There's a fair bit of body lean during brisk cornering but adhesion is excellent and a degree of vertical movement is necessary for a vehicle that can venture off-road into severe landscape without fear.

And that's exactly what the Land Rover is capable of - with ease. Not only can it drive through up to two feet of water - deeper in fact that the original Defender was capable of - but it can traverse boulders and banks that would defeat most rivals.

During one off-road agricultural venture in a P200 S R Dynamic - price £41,425 - we crossed a deep ford and scaled a muddy banking at an angle of 28 degrees without drama...at least from the vehicle. An impressive achievement for a luxurious, family car shod with road-going rubber.

There are numerous electronic aids ensuring progress continues even in near impossible conditions. But the one that impressed us most was the off-road cruise control which maintains a steady crawl as the sensors feed information to the wheels and thousands of messages a minute are relayed to the axles.

An on-road route in both the P200 and the D180 illustrated the improved refinement and ease of driving. Sure, as expected, the petrol version was quieter and more car-like but against that the extra torque of the diesel will appeal to those more used to traditional SUVs.

Steering is pleasantly weighted with decent road-feel and an air of quality which just wasn't present in the earlier car. In fact it feels just as worthy of a Range Rover badge as does the smaller Evoque.

Land Rover would have been fully justified in renaming the Disco Sport and presenting it as a totally new model - which it virtually is - such is the achieved improvement.


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