THE technological revolution sparked by Land Rover’s best selling UK model has been given a huge shot in the arm – by its closest rival.
While the Range Rover Evoque lifestyle SUV tops the company’s sales chart at home, that position is occupied globally by its compact seven-seat stablemate, the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
Both are built at the brand’s state of the art Halewood plant in Liverpool, and both are newly designed and equipped to take on all-comers.
With 120,000 UK sales in the bag since its 2015 launch, the time was right for a Disco Sport revamp – and the latest model hit the streets this month with way more than just a fresh set of clothes.
It may not look too dissimilar to the outgoing variant but under the skin and inside it is In essence a completely new vehicle.
For instance all petrol models come with a new 48-volt mild hybrid engine which, Land Rover insists, improves fuel economy by up to seven per cent and helps cut emissions by 10 per cent.
The car also uses the company’s latest Premium Transfer Architecture platform (PTA) which arrives equipped for electrification, a plug-in hybrid model due imminently.
A fresh trim grade called R-Dynamic has been introduced bringing a sportier style with black highlights while the cabin – already classy looking – gets more premium seats and fittings.
The cabin though is where Land Rover has really used its imagination with equipment like a Clear View forward facing camera system, which makes the bonnet invisible, plus a rear mirror that uses a roof camera to relay wide angle images from behind.
The dashboard now features a central 10-inch touchscreen, the instrument panel is a 12.3-inch multimode TFT display and the rotary gear selector on automatics has been replaced by a short-throw lever.
People with active lifestyles – very much a sales target for Land Rover – can also specify an Activity Key wristband that enables drivers to leave their keys in the car.
As for seating the Disco Sport remains a five plus two model offering no less than 24 different seating arrangements and a maximum 1,794 litres of space.
Add a trio of 12-volt outlets in the cabin, several USB ports, a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices along with a wireless smartphone charging pad and pretty much all family needs are catered for.
Land Rover sees the Disco Sport as a ‘go anywhere’ compact SUV that’s all about freedom – whether it be dealing with everyday paraphernalia on the school run or a muddy off-road adventure.
With the latter in mind our test exercise comprised a 100-mile drive from Ullswater in the Lake District via motorway and some of the country’s most scenic roads to the Land Rover Experience centre at the 3,000-acre Broughton Hall estate near Skipton.
This is one of the centres where all buyers of new or approved used Land Rover models are given a free half-day course in understanding the capabilities of their car.
And even on the smaller vehicles like the Disco Sport those capabilities are mind-boggling.
At the core is something called Terrain Response, which is operated at the push of a finger and makes light of sand; mud and ruts; grass, gravel and snow, and general conditions.
Reach the top of an incline and you simply dial in the vehicle’s Hill Descent Control system, take your feet off the pedals and the Disco Sport will pick its own way down the steepest of descents.
There’s even now a setting that enables the car to work its own way up the next hill.
But perhaps the most impressive feature of this car – and it applies to every model – is the wading depth, now almost double that of the original Defender.
We sluiced through a two-feet deep mini lake as though it were a shallow puddle – not something most drivers would probably risk doing in their own vehicles, but perfectly manageable in the Discovery Sport nonetheless.
Back on dry land and whether you go for petrol or diesel, both of which feature the company’s 2.0-litre Ingenium engine, the drive is smooth and relaxing with a ride quality appreciably better than the outgoing versions.
Land Rover is very likely the only car manufacturer whose worldwide top selling vehicle is a seven-seater, but then it caters for every family, in every eventuality. Prices are from £31,575 rising to £48,575.