FAR more socially acceptable than its cousin the Evoque, Land Rover’s Discovery Sport is large enough to be practical – it even carries seven passengers when needed – making it the pleasant face of off-roading. 

While numerous manufacturers appear desperate to cash in on the almost frenetic demand for SUVs, the famous green oval has to a large extent been able to remain aloof, at least with the Land Rover brand.

The Discovery Sport in factory spec has been able to escape the current trend of wings, splitters, spoilers and other unnecessary and ultimately useless external additions. The rear spoiler directing airflow and protecting the rear screen is nothing to do with down force. With enough style to appeal to the general buyer, the no-external-frills of the Discovery Sport mean that, while the clamshell bonnet shuts over one of Land Rover’s now familiar honeycomb-style grilles, LED lights are all round along with high-cut arches and chromed tailpipes, the function of the vehicle hasn’t been lost.

Four large doors, deep tailgate, low sill and 18” alloy rims shod with 235/60 tyres enhance this Land Rover’s usability while maintaining the sensibility.

Sat on coil suspension, the Discovery offers a wading depth of 600 mm, ground clearance of 211 with approach, departure and ramp over angles of 25, 30 and 20, ensuring that while the majority of these smaller Discovery models will rarely venture too far from smooth surfaces, they are more than able to take on far more demanding terrain. Two thick plastic skid plates fore and aft do offer a degree of protection in keeping with the proposed off-road expectations of more adventurous owners, but they will have their limits.

Inside the cabin, Land Rover has achieved the balanced compromise of being a pleasant place to spend time while not overflowing with unwanted frippery, the striking two-tone scheme seemingly a modern take on art deco. Spacious and airy with the capacity to carry up to seven passengers, the leather, fabric and soft-textured surfaces of the SE Tech are as durable as they are comfortable. Instrumentation is simple and clear, the functions of the central 8” touchscreen kept to sensible levels. Satnav, Bluetooth, climate and car status are the main and most useful readouts, while full off-road information has been kept to a quick-read minimum.

An ample glovebox along with door bins, a central reservation cubby plus a concealed area beneath the cup holders provide more than sufficient stowage, while cargo capacity varies between 981 litres and 1,698 litres, depending on seat configuration. You can also add 1,800 kg of towing capacity, courtesy of the electrically deployed folding tow hitch that’s activated either by a switch in the cargo area or via the touchscreen. If I had to criticise, it would be for the white leather and fabric interior of the Discovery Sport as tested. If you use your 4x4s as I do, a darker option would be the way to go. If not, seat covers and mats from the Land Rover accessory book can be supplied.

With the continued demonising of diesel – which you can still have beneath the Discovery Sport’s bonnet – it’s the Ingenium petrol on review. Developing 240 hp along with 340 Nm of torque and mated to the familiar JLR rotary control 9-speed automatic transmission with selectable off-road settings, progress is respectable. The all-important 0–60 mph comes up in 7.2 seconds and onwards to a 124 mph top speed, both figures more than sufficient for a vehicle of this type.

Consumption over the usual mixed motoring returned an average consumption of 25.8 mpg with a motorway best of 29.1 mpg. This translates to approximately 340 miles per each 69-litre tank of unleaded fuel. Acceptable to a degree. If you’re thinking of buying a Discovery Sport this means you need to work out exactly what you’ll be using it for, your type of motoring and the distances you’ll be covering. 

If you remain reasonably local then the petrol option is, in all probability, the way to go, but if it’s distance with cargo or you need to venture to more remote locations, the impressively economical Ingenium diesel would currently be your better option. While the performance of the 2-litre Ingenium petrol is sufficient for this smaller Discovery, the engine’s abilities make it more than up to the variety of jobs in hand. The diesel Discovery Sport still has the edge, but that remains my own personal opinion.

Engine type aside, the latest Discovery Sport still exhibits the classic Land Rover traits and a feel of solidity and stability. This Land Rover does what it does and does it well, with little effort. The ride is smooth, cabin ambiance more akin to its larger brethren, even uneven surfaces failing to upset the on-road or off-road poise. The power steering has sufficient resistance to ensure there’s decent feedback and feel, whilst the 2.3 turns lock-to-lock and radar system allows decent manoeuvrability in tighter situations. 

Set in automatic, the Discovery Sport is able to tackle most off-road situations without having to make many demands on the driver apart from the usual reliance on common sense. The more specific modes of grass/gravel/snow, mud/ruts and sand can be quickly selected, along with hill decent. There’s also an eco setting, but it does tend to dull the overall feel of the motor, with no noticeable improvement in economy.

The Si4 240 Tech on test starts at £38,095 while the accessories over standard of satnav, front fogs, keyless entry, automatic lights and wiper – to name just a few – add an additional £3,765. For those looking to spend less, the entry-level Discovery Sport can be had for a fraction over £30,000, but you’re still more than likely to want to add a few toys. 

In comparison to similar SUVs, Land Rover’s Discovery Sport isn’t as visually exciting. But given that a high percentage of this type of vehicle is actively bought by the dreaded ‘lifestyle’ buyer, if the Discovery Sport does have something to say it’s: “My owners have at least got some common sense. It’s what you can’t see that counts.”

Mark Stone