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Land Rover Discovery Sport
The Top Gear car review: Land Rover Discovery Sport
What is it like on the road?
With such a small footprint, the Discovery Sport drives incredibly neatly for a seven-seat SUV, and while it never shrugs off its weight – near two tonnes – it tucks neatly into corners and even exhibits something resembling ‘steering feel’. Remember that stuff?
But while it’s sporty by name, it’s less so by nature; the pervading feeling is of a car geared towards comfort, and its latest engines are eerily quiet compared to those fitted to the car back upon launch in 2014. This is especially true of the petrol, which cruises as good as silently at motorway speeds.
With only four-cylinder engines on offer (and three-cylinders to follow in the plug-in hybrids) this is not a car with a surfeit of power, even without the full platoon of kids on board. We’d suggest getting the punchiest diesel you can if you want acceleration to feel effortless.
The nine-speed automatic feels best suited to the diesel, too. It’s never keen to kickdown, even when you properly give the throttle some welly – we suspect WLTP regulations are to blame for some very punctilious gearbox software – so having plentiful low-down torque on offer is vital if you’re to get those two tonnes moving swiftly.
All told, the Disco quickly convinces you to settle into a relaxed pace, where JLR’s consistent knack of nailing a car’s damping (at least if you keep wheel sizes sensible) makes this perhaps the best car to drive in its class. Not the sportiest, but the comfiest, which is much more relevant if we’re all honest with each other. Its resemblance to a full-strength Range Rover is uncanny and surely welcome when you’ve a gaggle of small people to keep calm in the back.
Off road it also reigns supreme, for what it’s worth. Whether you deploy its numerous rock-crawling and hill-descending systems or trust your own ham-fistedness, this is a car that’ll take a serious bashing without complaint, even wading through 600mm of water. Most buyers won’t do any of it, we suspect, but then how many chronograph owners ever dive to their watch’s water resistance levels? The simple knowledge of its inherent capability will be enough to lift a Landie above less illustrious SUV rivals in the eyes of many.