WHEN Land Rover launched its all-new Discovery Sport in 2015 it was met with high praise the world over.
Now with 120,000 UK sales under its belt there is an upgraded model - and it's better than ever.
It boasts a fresh look, has extra on-board technology, a wealth of innovative safety kit, additional space plus all-new electrified powertrains that introduce cleaner and more efficient driving.
Prices range from £31,575 to £49,675 and customers can choose from trim levels called Standard, S, SE, HSE, R-Dynamic, R-Dynamic S, R-Dynamic SE and R-Dynamic HSE.
The entry-level model is front wheel drive and has five seats, but all other variants have seven seats and all-wheel drive.
The engine line-up is all-new with the introduction of 48-volt mild hybrid technology on all three petrol and four diesel Ingenium engines.
Only the base model misses out on this new system which improves fuel efficiency by up to seven per cent and sees CO2 emissions drop by up to 10g/km. Early in the new year, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle will be added to the mix.
The new Discovery Sport certainly looks the business with its dynamic stance and lots of fresh design cues. These include new signature LED headlamps at the front and rear, plus an updated grille and bumpers. Of course, the trademark clamshell bonnet, tapered roof and rising belt-line remain untouched.
The R-Design models also gain Shadow Atlas script on the bonnet and tailgate, unique bumpers, along with body-coloured side sills and wheel arches.
Land Rover has upgraded the interior too with more comfortable seats designed in the finest leather, plus a wealth of technology to explore.
The Touch Pro infotainment system is standard across the line-up and introduces a new 10.25-inch touchscreen with swipe and zoom functions.
A lower interface remains hidden until brought into life and this is where the controls for the heating, ventilation and climate system are found along with Terrain Response 2 settings and the Advanced Tow Assist function.
Creature comforts include a pitch perfect Meridian sound system, powered and heated seats, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Bluetooth, a navigation system plus plenty more besides.
There is even smart Artificial Intelligence technology which is a self-learning system that recognises the driver from their key fob or phone and will set up their seat and steering column preferences.
After a few journeys, the clever system starts remembering the driver's preferred temperature settings, media preferences, commonly dialled numbers and even massaging seat settings. It's Big Brother territory.
We tried the 2.0-litre 180hp turbocharged diesel model with 430Nm of torque and a new nine-speed automatic transmission. This model could complete the 0-60mph sprint in 9.4 seconds, topped out at 125mph, delivered combined fuel economy of 37.2mpg (WLTP) with carbon emissions of 150g/km (NEDC). The car, in high-end HSE spec, was priced at £46,025, although a number of optional extras saw the final asking price creep up to £48,870.
Out on the road, the car cruises effortlessly at motorway speeds and the grip is confident and assured on quieter country lanes as it fires through the automatic gearbox. A Dynamic mode sharpens up the responses even further and the vehicle is also nice and agile in busier villages.
But the Discovery family is synonymous with off-roading so we were invited to put the car (without any adjustments to tyres etc) through its paces on a demanding and testing course at a Land Rover Experience centre.
The highly-acclaimed Terrain Response 2 system allows the driver to select from four modes - Comfort, Sand, Grass-Gravel-Snow or Mud & Ruts. This can be done manually or you can choose Auto and let the car decide what mode it should be in - which is probably the best option.
Steep inclines, sheer drops, flooded ditches, rocks and muddy bogs did their very best to deter the Discovery Sport, but to no avail.
The Hill Descent system was most impressive and the grip didn't falter even once as it scrambled its way around the course. There are some clever cameras on the bumper and mirrors that let you see what's directly in front or next to the wheels and this was much appreciated on narrower sections of the track with drops either side.
This is a car with approach, departure and break-over angles of 25, 30 and 20 degrees respectively and ground clearance of 212mm. It will climb gradients of up to 45 degrees and lean at nerve-jangling angles. And should a water obstacle appear, the Discovery Sport can wade at depths of up to 600mm.
With practicality in mind, new Discovery Sport has a boot capacity that ranges from 1,179 to 1,794 litres with all the rear seats dropped flat. There is an additional 48 litres worth of storage compartments - an increase of 25 per cent over the outgoing vehicle - and connectivity for smart devices is covered via eight USB and three 12-volt charge points throughout the cabin.
There are also optional Click & Go tablet holders, which hold and charge smart devices for passengers travelling in the second row, costing an extra £215 each.
Towing is made simpler thanks to the Advanced Tow Assist system that allows the driver to focus on steering the trailer via a dial instead of the difficult counter-steering of the vehicle. The Discovery Sport has a towing limit of 2.5 tonnes.
The car secured a maximum five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and is packed with kit such as Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist, front and rear parking aids, a rear camera, Cruise Control and Speed Limiter, a Driver Condition Monitor, a full suite of airbags and three Isofix fixtures.
There is the option of adding a Driver Assist pack and this introduces a wealth of extra safety features, including Land Rover's Adaptive Cruise Control with Steer Assist and 360-degree camera, Park Assist, a 360-degree parking aid, Rear Traffic Monitor, Wade Sensing, Blind Spot Assist, High Speed Emergency Braking and Clear Exit Monitor.
All in all, the new Discovery Sport seems to have it all and the latest model is likely to see demand grow at a rapid-fire rate. It looks dynamic, drives beautifully, boasts punchy yet economical engines, it is packed with the latest technology and it will go anywhere.