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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

There is only two engine options on the Discovery Sport - both use the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel unit, producing two outputs - 148bhp and 177bhp.

However, our test car used Ford-derived 2.2-litre diesel and the Sport’s most noticeable connection to the past is unmistakably that engine, which currently shadows everything the car does with the clatter and gunsmoke odour of yesteryear. Denying the car the new four-cylinder Ingenium oil-burner from launch was clearly the model’s on-paper Achilles heel and, to a greater or lesser extent, that’s the way it plays out on the road.

For a car that weighs the wrong side of two tonnes, a sub-9.0sec 0-60mph time is very decent

However, although the direct-injected 2.2-litre motor is not a paragon of refinement or efficiency, its later-life development has at least ensured that it produces the unmistakable surge expected of a modern blower-equipped diesel.

On stream, its 310lb ft of torque is a plentiful amount, and it feels that way. For a car that tipped the scales on the wrong side of two tonnes when we weighed it, a sub-9.0sec 0-60mph time is very decent. So is the 9.0sec it takes to get from 30mph to 70mph, very slightly bettering the time we recorded for the much-admired 2.2-litre engine in the Mazda CX-5 a couple of years ago.

In fact, the soft underbelly of the package is at times evident less in the 20th century motor and more in the 21st century gearbox to which it has been shackled.

Rather inevitably, the nine-speed automatic transmission’s keenness to keep the engine spinning at its productive mid-range pitch means that you’re going to have to live with a lot of downshifting – particularly on the motorway, where the never-ending 47.5mph per 1000rpm final ratio cannot be trusted with even modest acceleration.

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However, it’s the intermittent hesitancy experienced at fast getaways that tends to chafe. It’s not quite clear whether this is a function of the gearbox’s default to second – keeping an ultra-low first ratio chiefly for off-road duties – or the initial reluctance to lock up that we’ve sometimes encountered in other ZF-equipped Land Rovers, but the half second of driveline bemusement is infuriating when you’re trying to make a gap in the traffic.

Nevertheless, the nine-speeder’s otherwise swift function (it will block change rather than cycle sequentially) and inclination to shift are what make the automatic Sport significantly faster than the six-speed manual and keeping the fire stoked is an attitude that suits the car just fine.