Land Rover's newest nameplate, the Discovery Sport has been on sale since 2015, five years down the line the car company synonymous with off-road vehicles has updated it.
We got to drive the latest model at its launch in the Western Cape, covering many kilometres in the D180 version powered by a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine.
Prices start at R749 500 and top out at R908 100 for the flagship of the range. Three trim levels are offered: S, SE and the top of the range HSE.
Quite a bit, inside the vehicle, it can be fitted with the firm’s rear-view camera mirror system that we first saw in the Evoque.
Via a flick of a switch, the mirror turns into a screen monitor that offers an HD view of the tailgating car behind you. Land Rover says the camera, positioned above the back window, provides a 50-degree more extensive field of vision and I can attest to it offering excellent clearer visibility in dark conditions.
The smallest model in the line-up receives what Land Rover calls the 'digital touch pro' infotainment system, that has all the cool things like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless mobile charging unit and a 4G hotspot.
Mobile charging problems are taken care of by every row of seats fitted with a USB and 12V connection points, wealthy millennials and their kids will love it.
Image: Land Rover
The materials are of higher quality, and it certainly feels closer to its bigger Discovery sibling, one item I missed is an armrest for the driver.
On a practical level, the car has a 20% bigger fuel tank at 65 litres and as mentioned earlier, offers seating for up to seven people. The rear-most seats more suited for children, however.
The second row can be configured to a 40:20:40 split, and the company reckons there are 24 possible seating combinations, fans of the Rubik's Cube will love it then. If the rear seats are in use, it erodes most of the boot space, storing luggage in a roof-mounted case or trailer is then one's best option.
What’s it like to drive?
The new car is reportedly 13% stiffer than before, while noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) levels have been reduced by rigidly mounted sub-frames, improving comfort and making the vehicle safer.
We sampled the D180 model that's powered by a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine with 132kW and 400Nm, and I was impressed by the engine's healthy spread of torque. Our test route covered hundreds of kilometres as we left Cape Town and made our way down the N7 to the West Coast National Park.
This motor chugs along nicely while working with Jaguar Land Rover's nine-speed automatic gearbox. Its torque was put to good use by overtaking a flurry of trucks on the N7 while its low-down pulling power assisted us greatly in the steep inclines of the off-roading section of the drive.
Image: Land Rover
That's a useful link into the Discovery Sport’s capabilities: it has a 600mm wading depth, all-wheel drive and the second-gen Terrain Response system that, via a computer, adjusts the setup of the car depending on which surface you’re driving on.
But Land Rover is aware the car doesn’t need to be working hard all the time, and the drive-line disconnect system will switch to front-wheel drive under cruising conditions, reducing frictional losses. It can quickly shift back to all-wheel drive in under 500 milliseconds.
There's a petrol engine option that wasn't available to drive at launch with a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit that has 184kW. Badged P250, Land Rover says it can reach 100km/h in 7.6 seconds and maximum speed is set at 225km/h.
Land Rover also confirmed a plug-in hybrid model would join the line-up in 2021.
The Discovery Sport is a significant upgrade over its predecessor, and it borrows styling cues from its siblings (thankfully not too much from the Discovery), and is capable in off-road conditions.
Crucially, it feels comfortable to drive in urban conditions and with more practicality and higher specification, it can be considered among the other premium players.
Image: Land Rover
D180 AWD - R749 500
D180 S AWD - R795 500
D180 AWD R-Dynamic S - R819 100
D180 AWD R-Dynamic SE - R855 300
D180 AWD R-Dynamic HSE - R897 800
P250 AWD - R759 900
P250 S AWD - R805 800
P250 AWD R-Dynamic S - R829 500
P250 AWD R-Dynamic SE - R865 700
P250 AWD R-Dynamic HSE - R908 100