Step into the Disco Sport for the first time and it no longer feels a world away from its rivals in terms of interior quality – quite the opposite – and that’s before any further MY21 updates. It also has the advantage of being less bland than its German, black-interior-favouring rivals and retains a distinctive Land Rover feel.
Initial impressions are that it’s strikingly better to drive than its predecessor: nicely damped, direct if not super-sharp steering and just all-round effortless performance.
We have the £815 adaptive dynamics option to help its cause, which has the dampers adjust 100 times per second to “optimise the suspension settings and provide the optimum balance between comfort, refinement and agility”. The other key first impression is the incredibly quiet waft of the diesel engine, and the subtle effects of the mild-hybrid technology. Even the most unobservant of drivers will notice the regenerative braking when coming off the accelerator, although it’s not intrusive in any way. It can help fuel economy only so much, though, given that this model is four-wheel-drive. So far, we’re averaging 34.1mpg.
Over the next few months, we will discover how the go-anywhere Disco Sport fits into our daily lives, as a mid-sized, aspirational SUV offering plenty of practicality and comfort – but also one with several excellent rivals.
I know it’s a Land Rover and all, but the Discovery Sport’s market success has never seemed to me to be about some marginally superior level of off-road ability. I think people like it because it’s practical and versatile – one of the few cars in its premium niche with an optional third row of seats – and because it’s an SUV that’s comfy in its own skin. It looks like it, it drives like it and it’s all the more likeable for it, I think.
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Land Rover Discovery Sport D180 AWD HSE specification
Specs: Price New £46,800 Price as tested £54,485 Options Namib Orange paint £970, black roof £610, matrix LED headlights £790, bright metal pedals £155, reduced section spare wheel £170, adaptive dynamics £815, Driver Assist Pack (360deg Surround Camera, Clear Exit Monitor, Adaptive Cruise Control with Steering Assist, Park Assist, 360deg Parking Aid, Rear Traffic Monitor, Wade Sensing) £2160, Secure tracker £570, two USBs in row two and one USB in row three £100, front foglights £195, load-space rubber mat £171, load-space net side £111, roof rails (black finish, fixed roof) £641, roof rails ditch finishers (black) £227