NOW I have to say straight away that I am a little biased when it comes to Land Rovers – there are currently three at Howarth Towers ranging in age from almost new to 24 years old.
So when those awfully nice people at JLR said would you like to try out our latest special edition I jumped at the chance.
The edition in question was the Discovery Sport Td4 LandMark which, despite it being currently the smallest vehicle they make, can be had with a full seven seats.
And even though it is the baby of the Land Rover family the Sport is just as rugged and go anywhere as any of its more upmarket siblings.
Although this Discovery Sport is also pretty upmarket with a long kit list and a price tag to match – from £39,990 (the Discovery Sport range starts from £30,000 for the 2WD 2eD4 Pure).
For that you do get an awful lot of kit including power gesture tailgate, cruise control, an 8” touchscreen for infotainment systems including sat-nav and DAB radio, panoramic sunroof, perforated leather seats (heated and electric in the front), rear camera, a premium sound system and long list of safety features.
And then there is the legendary Land Rover go anywhere ability thanks to that tried and tested AWD system linked up to a raft of electronic aids like terrain response, hill descent control, hill start assist, traction control, dynamic stability control, roll stability control and trailer stability control and assist.
To differentiate the LandMark edition there are also black and graphite body details and an Atlas graphics package.
The cheapest and most economical Discovery Sport comes with a 148bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine in manual with FWD but our test car had the beefier 178bhp version which gave this compact 4×4 SUV a good turn of speed – 0 to 60 in 9.2 seconds and a top speed of 117.
The LandMark Edition also has seven seats with the rear row a little cramped for full-sized adults but more than acceptable for short journeys or children.
As well as that uprated engine the LandMark also has a superb nine-speed auto gearbox and for those who want even more performance there is a punchier 237bhp SD4 version plus two 2.0-litre petrols with 237bhp or 286bhp, both of which are only available in automatic.
The Discovery Sport has plenty of grip so it holds the road well, with precise steering and minimal roll for an SUV.
All four-wheel-drive models come with that Terrain Response system that gives a variety of drive modes including as grass, mud and sand which means the Discovery Sport is better off road than just about anything else in this price bracket.
All Discovery Sports come with rear parking sensors and all but entry-level Pure and SE models have front sensors, too. A reversing camera is standard on HSE trim and upwards, and optional on lower trims. The interior of our Discovery Sport had a well laid out dashboard with quality materials used throughout and classy touches such as brushed-metal trim and a rising rotary gear selector.
When the middle row of seats is slid back as far as possible there is ample rear legroom in five seat layout but when seven seats are needed that row can slide forward to share the somewhat limited room with the rearmost row.
However, this is the only premium-badged car of its size to offer seven seats – you will have to go non-premium in something like a Peugeot, Hyundai or Kia which do also have a bit more room in the third row.
The Discovery Sport is priced competitively against five-seat premium rivals such as the X3 or Q5 and in this LandMark version you get a very well specked vehicle for the money – especially as it is possible to spend almost £50 grand on a D 240 R-Dynamic HSE version!
For more details see www.landrover.co.uk
By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth