That doesn’t help to build a case for the manual, and neither does the gearchange or clutch action. The lever has a long throw and a viscous feel, with the occasional graunch through the gate. Meanwhile, the clutch has an imprecision that makes the Discovery Sport more difficult to drive smoothly than it should be.
Around town, the steering is lethargic, too. Rather than having weight, it would be more accurate to say it has resistance and, when pulling out of side turnings, at times a reluctance to self-centre.
The low-speed ride isn’t perfect, either. The suspension copes well with low-frequency undulations like speed bumps, but high-frequency ripples and sharp ridges thump through the cabin more than expected.
However, these challenges fade once the Discovery Sport is released onto an open road. As the speed builds, the ride settles down,while the engine finds its sweet spot and its note morphs into a background thrum. The steering feels sharper, too, allowing you to float the Disco Sport from apex to apex with ease.
There’s also very little body roll and a surprising amount of grip for what’s basically a tall SUV that weighs just shy of two tonnes. It even has a degree of throttle adjustability, should you choose to exploit it.
It’s a similar tale of good and not quite so good inside. There's lots of space for occupants and a big load bay, as well as cabin storage for cups and odds and ends.
As the driver, you are aware that you not only have good leg and headroom but also an unusual amount of elbow and shoulder room, too. The driving position is fine and the front seats supportive and well shaped. They’re quite hard, though; they could benefit from slightly softer cushions and possibly a bit more side support.
Anyone sitting in the second row of seats won’t lack space, either. There’s easily enough for two tall adults to sit behind two more, and another could be squeezed in the middle if needed.
Behind this, there’s foldaway seating for a further two passengers, but this space is best suited to kids. With the third-row seats folded away, there's 981 litres of cargo space if you slide the middle bench forward on its runners. However, bear in mind that figure is Land Rover's own assessment and they measure up to the roofline. Most other manufacturers measure up to the tonneau cover, in which case the capacity is around 500 litres.
The middle-row seatbacks also tilt for better access to the rearmost seats and fold down in a 40/20/40 formation for added flexibility. Drop them all and they create a carrying capacity of up to 1620 litres.
However, the switchgear and plastics seem a little underwhelming for a car that starts at nearly £40k. The cabin does have that Land Rover signature trait of functionality about it, but you can’t escape feeling that the design is quite plain and the materials don’t feel as tactile in places as those in an Audi Q5, BMW X3 or Volvo XC60.