The channel Land Rover has had to negotiate with the Sport’s cabin is a narrow one. A premium look and feel are vital if the model is to compete with upmarket offerings from BMW and Audi, yet it cannot be permitted to trample on the toes of the Evoque, which remains above it in the range pecking order.
Thus, the debonair sense of style you get in the Evoque is restrained here. This is plainly a more workaday effort. The chunky handsomeness – best expressed in the bold, straight lines and clearly labelled switchgear – owes much to the outgoing Freelander’s aesthetic, although the cliff face of dashboard is pure Evoque. The driving position, happily, is merely archetypal Land Rover, meaning somewhere between crow’s nest and comfy lounge chair.
A Range Rover customer would spot the bottom-line compromises made by the manufacturer when it picked out trim materials (evident even in our high-spec test car), but a good dealer will encourage you to swivel around and regard the Sport’s extra seats as the proper point of differentiation.
There are six trim levels to spec the Land Rover Discovery Sport out in. The entry-level SE trim comes with part-leather trim, climate and cruise control, heated front seats, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors and JLR's latest 8.0in colour touchscreen with DAB radio, all as standard. Mid-level SE Tech adds sat-nav, automatic lights and wipers, front parking sensors and the useful power tailgate.
Opt for the HSE level and expect such luxuries as keyless entry, a panoramic sunroof, rear view camera and a 380W Meridian sound system, while the HSE Black trim adds black exterior trim and 20in alloy wheels. In HSE Luxury trim, the Discovery Sport further gains full leather interior, heated and cooled seats, heated steering wheel, USB ports and a self-parking mode, meanwhile the range-topping HSE Dynamic Lux adds sporty details and trim.
The packaging sleight of hand is impressive – you really wouldn’t think there’s room, despite the 2741mm wheelbase – although its cons are obvious enough. With hardly anywhere for the second tier to go, a potentially shin-bruising clamber is required to reach the third row, making the two rearmost seats virtually adult-proof from the start.
Nevertheless, the individual pews, modestly raised from the boot floor, are proper little perches rather than mere hollows, and with the sacrifice of the some leg room for the passenger in front, there’s clearly enough room for fledgling legs.
As the +2 designation suggests, the arrangement is about short-haul capacity only. This is not a seven-seat family car in the conventional mould. Certainly, there isn’t much load space left once the third row is up. That doesn’t significantly detract from the usefulness of the system, though.
Much like the Sport’s ability to climb a mountain, you wouldn’t expect to use it every day, but it’s nice to know it’s there should you need it.