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It's hard to better; New engines make the stylish yet tough Land Rover Discovery Sport even more tempting, says JONATHAN CROUCH.

Byline: JONATHAN CROUCH

LAND Rover reckons that this Discovery Sport is the most versatile premium compact SUV currently on sale - and it's a credible claim.

This is, after all, the only prestigiously badged car in this segment that can seat seven.

It's also smart, practical, safe and rugged enough to go a lot further than its rivals off the beaten track.

Plus a state-of-the-art range of "Ingenium" 2.0 TD4 diesel engines offer class-leading power and efficiency. It all means that there's nothing else quite like this car.

The engines are Land Rover's advanced 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ingenium TD4 units, shared with the Range Rover Evoque and designed to deliver improved efficiency, along with class-leading torque and power.

The most affordable TD4 unit in the range comes with 150PS and 350Nm of torque but it's only offered with this car in five-seat form.

Here, 62mph from rest occupies 11 seconds on the way to 112mph.

Most, though, will want the 180PS variant, which comes only with the seven-seat layout and delivers a much lustier 430Nm of torque.

Here, there's a maximum speed of 117mph, while 62mph from rest takes 9.4 seconds, though you can reduce this figure by a second if you take up the option of the slick nine-speed ZF auto gearbox many owners will want.

More importantly, this variant has enough pulling power to permit a towing capability of up to 2500kgs when the optional Tow Pack is fitted.

Both the TD4 powerplants come mated exclusively to 4WD. This, by the way, is a proper permanent set-up rather than the less effective "on-demand" AWD system that this car's less capable competitors use.

The Discovery Sport is a really handsome piece of design work that instantly makes rivals look old or positively lumpy.

The wheels are pushed nicely to each corner and there's that distinctive canted forward C-pillar profile that became such a Freelander signature.

Land Rover describe the seating arrangement as "5+2" rather than a full seven-seater.

That's because the rearmost seats are designed largely for kids and occasional use.

The middle row of seats can be reclined, slid back and forth by 160mm, and also splits 60:40. They're also 5cm higher than the fronts which affords a good view out.

Boot space measures a useable 195 litres with all seats up, but the Discovery Sport is likely to spend most of its life in five-seat mode, in which case you get a massive 830 litres.

Fold both second and third rows and you can carry up to 1698 litres.

Prices start north of PS30,000 and rise to nearly PS43,000.

As for equipment, well entry-level SE trim gets you part-leather seating, climate control, a heated windscreen, cruise control, and the inControl Remote.

This last piece of kit allows you to access all sorts of vehicle information via your smartphone.

You can find your way back to the vehicle, check if the windows or doors are open, check fuel level and range, and even summon emergency assistance if required.

Of the two engines on offer, the E-Capability 150PS version is inevitably the cleanest and most frugal, managing 129g/km of CO2 and 57.7mpg on the combined cycle.

The TD4 engine in pokier 180PS guise has a CO2 figure of 139g/km and the fuel return is 53.3mpg. Impressively, those figures apply to both manual and automatic variants. This means that the 65-litre fuel tank should give you a range of well over 700 miles.

Once again, Land Rover have looked at a market that many thought was packed to bursting point and spotted a significant gap, into which it's parked the Discovery Sport.

What other car of this kind can seat seven, set off in the Serengeti and slot right in as easily in Murrayfield as it will in the tightest multi-storey carpark space? No other premium compact SUV can do all this.

CAPTION(S):

VERSATILE Z The Land Rover Discovery Sport has an air of elegance yet can handle the rough stuff

SPACIOUS 3 There is plenty of room aboard the Land Rover Discovery Sport and some fancy equipment
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 12, 2015
Words:688
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