ROAD TEST: Land Rover Discovery Sport

Just as they did with the Range Rover, those clever designers at Land Rover are offering an attractive and slightly less expensive way to join the exclusive Discovery club. Enter the Discovery Sport, writes motoring editor Ian Strachan.

And it’s not just a slightly smaller, more car-like Discovery. It also has a great  – the 2.0 diesel Ingenium engine – which delivers lower fuel costs, lower emissions and improved performance.

I road tested the excellent Discovery Sport automatic with the 180 bhp engine. While it is undoubtedly a Discovery it is more compact than Discoverys of the past and lower, with more rounded lines. Its smooth shape gives it better aerodynamics.

Both inside and out, the Sport is a pleasing vehicle. Its rounded lines and attractive hatched radiator grille make it a good looking car.

It has the ultimate in capability off road but is exceptionally well behaved on road. As well as being a superb motorway cruiser the Discovery Sport can still handle the rough stuff. It is a Land Rover after all.

The 2.0 litre four-cylinder DOHC turbo-diesel engine has plenty of guts, delivering power throughout the range without ever feeling reluctant to propel this big car. It’s quiet and smooth running. The nine-speed automatic gearbox is exceptionally flexible. It’s also frugal – this is a big unit – delivering a creditable 53.3 mpg in mixed driving – unheard of in the old days of Discovery.

Handling is stable and predictable, with no suspension wallow, and flat cornering. On road its manners are impeccable and it’s a great motorway cruiser. Steering is light but precise.

Specification is very good and includes a third row of foldable seats, DAB 11-speaker radio and audio system with touch-screen satellite navigation, huge panoramic glass roof, cruise control, heated or cooled electric front seats, heated front screen, front and rear parking aid with rear camera, powered tailgate, lane departure warning, leather steering wheel, automatic high beam, leather upholstery, and 20 inch alloys.

My test car came with the options of  an up-rated in-car entertainment system  (£1,900), adaptive dynamics (£820), all round vision assist pack (£2,385), adaptive cruise control with queue assist (£1,220) and electric deployable tow-bar (£1,345)

The Discovery Sport doesn’t come cheap. The model I tested will cost you £43,400 on the road without the options. But it has the indefinable quality and solidity that only Land Rover seems able to achieve in its off-roaders. Money well-spent.

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