If you’re after a compact seven-seater with a premium badge, your options aren’t that many. In fact, 12 months ago, your choices amounted to a total of zero. Then in the space of 2015, we received the BMW 216d Gran Tourer, and this, the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
The latter, though, is the sole true off -roader in the running: Its launch took place in Iceland in the middle of winter, presumably to prove that there’s more to this Landy than a mummy wagon designed for the school run.
ENGINE: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo
POWER: 240hp at 5,800rpm
TORQUE: 340Nm at 1,750rpm
TOP SPEED: 199km/h
Fitting the third row required some clever reengineering of the rear axle. Considering that the overall package is shorter than the fi veseat- only Audi Q5 and BMW X3, space is rather good. The third row is predictably tight and best for children (or adults you don’t like), but there’s ample legroom and headroom elsewhere.
Folding and deploying the second- and third-row seats is idiot-proof and can be performed with one hand. When both rows are folded, the cargo area yields a load space of 1,700 litres – which again, by dint of sorcery, is more than, say, the Q5 – although you’d have to fi nd somewhere to stash the load cover in the meantime.
This being a Land Rover, the car is well equipped, with lots of safety and convenience systems such as roll control, brake assist and powered tailgate as standard in all models. The HSE-spec adds park assist, memory seats and a fi xed panoramic glass roof.
Handling is appreciably more composed than the Freelander 2 it replaces, with the body roll and sharp cornering normally found in a car with a lower centre of gravity. But less likeable is its engine, a Ford-sourced 2.0-litre petrol, which exhibits a noticeable turbo lag that is incongruous with the car’s “Sport” designation.
Thankfully, the company is in the process of equipping all its cars with its new inhouse “Ingenium” engines, starting with the well-received diesel (not available here). The petrol version is rumoured to arrive later this year. The car’s bigger brother, the Discovery, would be the natural choice for most readers of this magazine, but as a second car it’s ideal once LR sorts the engine out. Plus, being lower, it fi ts into some multi-storey carparks that the Discovery can’t.