A week with the new Discovery Sport

IF you think of this as a sort of cross between a Land Rover Discovery and the Range Rover Evoque you won’t be too far wrong – and that gives this mid-sized SUV a great start in life.

I am a huge fan of the Discovery for its enormous capability both on and off road and the Evoque has been a runaway success since the day it was launched, so merging the two together is a natural step.

The Disco Sport has some obvious strengths, the Evoque-inspired styling at the front, for example, and because it wears the Land Rover badge you can be assured that it will be superb off road.

But it has some other aces up its sleeve. For one thing, despite its relatively modest dimensions it is a seven seater with a third row of fold-away seats in the boot area. My two youngest children used them and absolutely loved sitting there.

Another is that, although my test car had the earlier diesel, the cars in the showrooms now will be fitted with the very latest ‘Ingenium’ diesels built in south Staffordshire which are ultra-efficient, clean and tax-friendly.

And although hopefully you will never find out, it is also remarkably safe with automatic braking in an emergency and even a pedestrian airbag built into the bonnet to reduce the severity of an impact.


Onto happier matters, the build quality is from the very top drawer inside and out and yet again there is the sense of being in a premium product.

The interior is lovely, supremely comfortable and very well equipped. Every version gets heated seats, an easy-to-use eight-inch touch screen display, climate control, digital radio and rear parking sensors.

Move up a grade to SE Tech and you also get sat nav, automatic lights and wipers, front parking sensors and a powered tailgate and HSE models build on that with a panoramic glass roof, full leather interior, reversing camera and Xenon headlamps.

My test car had the ‘old’ 2.2 diesel with a nine speed automatic gearbox which pretty much guarantees effortless motorway cruising in top gear and it motors on well in mid-range acceleration too.

Having the extra ratios also keeps the engine in its mid-rev range where it is quieter, smoother and nicer.


That said I’ve driven the all-new Ingenium diesel in the latest Jaguar XE and think it will do very well in this car.

f I’m nitpicking I was a little surprised by the ride at lower speeds which I found to be on the firmish side. It is not harsh and takes bumps and bad surfaces in its stride and I know that you don’t want an SUV that lurches and rolls in the bends, but it was slightly stiffer than I expected.

Land Rover will argue that this car has a Sport badge on it so what did I expect? Well, my wife has an Evoque which is sportier in the bends but rides better.

I would happily live with this aspect of the car though because overall it is so good. The third row of occasional seats does give the Disco Sport a lot more family-friendly practicality and yet it is much smaller and so easier to drive and park than most seven seaters.


The styling works well, the interior is lavish and I am sure the new engine will really give it a boost.

It is simply on a different plane to the car it replaces, the slightly gawky Freelander. Best compact SUV in the world? I’m sure BMW would argue that its X3 is as would Audi with its Q3 - but it is certainly up there with them.