The SD4 is decently potent but not as refined as you might expect, with its rather gruff idle literally setting the tone for an engine note that’s never what you’d call intrusive but is always present. Certainly, those hopping from the polished confines of an Audi Q5 2.0 TDI might raise an eyebrow, although anybody acclimatised to the corresponding powerplant in the Nissan X-Trail would be pleasantly surprised. You could say, then, that this engine mirrors the Discovery Sport’s status as a premium product guided by utilitarian principles.
It is thirsty, though. Its combined fuel economy of 44.1mpg is bettered even by the considerably more powerful 3.0-litre TDI diesel of the Q5, which goes to show how far Land Rover has to go before its oil-burning engines match the best in the class. Given the Discovery Sport’s otherwise strong capabilities as a long-distance family tourer, it’s a little disappointing. Much the same can be said for the new Si4 petrol engines, which, as you’d expect, are markedly more refined but fall down on fuel consumption.
But what of that performance? A 0-60mph time of 7.1sec puts the new SD4 Discovery Sport on a level with warm hatches such as the Volkswagen Golf GTD, although it doesn’t always feel particularly quick. Not that it should, of course - just don’t be fooled into thinking all that torque is enough to make a two-tonne SUV feel sprightly. It isn’t.
Along with that bulk, the nine-speed automatic gearbox must also take some of the blame for the Discovery Sport’s steady modus operandi.
Okay, it juggled cogs with impressive ease while meandering along the Yorkshire Dales roads of our test drive. In fact, you barely notice as the rev counter's needle gently swoops up and down, smoothly keeping the engine in its sweetspot.
But frustrations arise when you require a sudden burst of acceleration – not uncommon on undulating roads like these, thick with slow-moving farm traffic – because there’s a lengthy delay before the transmission finds the most appropriate of its closely packed ratios. With the correct cog selected, the SD4 is forceful enough, but it just takes a while to get to that stage, and it’s a characteristic that can leave you floundering on approach to roundabouts should you never actually come to a complete stop.
Elsewhere, the Discovery Sport’s ride remains impressive at a canter but suffers occasionally over more pronounced road imperfections. It’s capable but a little rough around the edges, which, if you were feeling kind, you could once again say was in keeping with the car’s designated personality.