Quiet excellence

from new Disco Sport

Land Rover Discovery Sport, front action
Land Rover Discovery Sport, rear action
Land Rover Discovery Sport, upright
Land Rover Discovery Sport, side action
Land Rover Discovery Sport, front action 2
Land Rover Discovery Sport, water wade
Land Rover Discovery Sport, offroad
Land Rover Discovery Sport, rear seats
Land Rover Discovery Sport, dash detail
Land Rover Discovery Sport, dashboard
Land Rover Discovery Sport, offroad 2
Land Rover Discovery Sport, boot

HERE'S a professional secret; testing an off-roader off road often mean a change of car and a change of tyres too.

So, you arrive at a demanding off road course in a snazzy new XYZ and you're rapidly decanted into a similar vehicle except it's now wearing chunky tyres in place of the roadgoing ones.

Some little time later, suitably impressed with the way your XYZ managed the roads, streams and sheer descents put in its path, you switch back to your original car and head out on the open road.

It was, therefore, a bit of a surprise to find myself in a new Discovery Sport in remote North Yorkshire and on the sort of off-road challenge a careful goat might think worth avoiding - and on the same set of road tyres it arrived on.

Less of a surprise to discover the newcomer romped round. You could almost sense its disdain at the obstacles in its path, some of them tackled without the driver needing to touch either brake or accelerator pedal, with the right button touched on its shiny new dashboard.

No doubt about it, the new Disco Sport will do everything (and much more) that a likely owner is going to ask of it, what with the danger of scratches and scuffs on body and alloys on a car whose repairs would be down to you.

Mud hosed off the alloys, the news is as cheering when the car is hustled down the road too, with the diesel engine never raising its voice above a whisper and turning almost limo-like in sheer refinement on smoother sections of the M6 (yes, they do exist).

So, on and off road the new Discovery Sport makes a convincing case for itself. Which is just as well for it's the company's biggest seller, just nudging into second place the new Evoque which is built alongside in Halewood on the fringes of Liverpool.

It shares with that car many of the bits you can't see, notably the platform it's built on and the transversly mounted engines that power it - a whopping 80 per cent of them still diesels despite the bad press currently suffered by that fuel.

All the new Discovery Sports bar the base diesel help themselves to better economy and tailpipe emissions with a (very) mild hybrid system that charges an underfloor battery when the car decelerates and pushes power back into the drivetrain when you accelerate.

This saves up to 10g/km of CO2 and improves official fuel economy by seven per cent. A more full-on plug-in hybrid arrives next year with a new three-cylinder petrol engine that promises still better eco credentials.

For now, there's a range of 2.0 litre petrol and diesel powerplants with 200 and 249hp from the petrols and 150,180 and 240hp from the diesels. Performance ranges from 8.5 to 10.7 seconds to 62mph and top speeds from 121mph to 140mph.

The entry level Discovery Sport costs £31,575 and comes with front-wheel drive, 150hp diesel and a manual gearbox, delivering the lowest emissions (140g/km) but, you'd guess, hardly on the radar for anyone contemplating one of the newcomers.

Much more likely to be found on the drive is a more powerful diesel - and all-wheel drive - Disco with automatic gears and the ability to laugh off the worst of winter or romp across the paddock to feed Jemima's pony.

Feel the need to wade a river and the car will safely tackle 600mm of water - more depth than the recently deceased Defender could manage for all its butch and manly looks.

Of more likely use to a new Discovery Sport owner is a cabin made more practical than ever, the second row of seats now split 40:20:40 and the child-friendly third row lifting quickly into place. Interior storage is boosted to 48 litres and includes a new and larger centre console - and cup-holders for the kiddies in the farmost seats.

On the technology front, there is now a 10 inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for the first time and the chance of goodies like full colour head-up display, 14-way memory front seats, wireless charging for your phone and a ClearSight interior mirror that used a small roof mounted camera to show the view behind - greatly widening your field of view.

Opt for ClearSight Ground View and three more cameras look at the ground ahead to produce a view that seems to make the bonnet vanish, making potentially hazardous rocks easy to avoid off road and steer the expensive alloys away from city kerbs.

These goodies mean some owners will comfortably break the £50,000 barrier, with the current range topping R-Dynamic HSE costs £47,525 before upgrading the sound system, for instance.

Out on the road in a middish range D180 AWD SE Discovery Sport (£43,175) it's the car's interior hush that instantly impresses. You have to listen hard for the diesel knock at low speeds and it vanishes completely at a main road cruise.

Find the better road surfaces on our motorways and tyre noise receeds from modest to nil and the car feels ready for a 400 mile dash to dinner, leaving driver and passenger fresh as the proverbial daisies.

That this same vehicle managed a Yorkshire torture trail with a smile on its new look face and returned 32.7mpg for the trip, including the tank draining low speed stuff, and here's a car that ought to brighten the working days of Land Rover's number crunchers.

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