Playing the less opulent but still appreciably premium fiddle alongside the Range Rover Evoque in the family SUV class has always left the Discovery Sport with a precarious path to tread. Too luxurious and the more spacious model might cannibalise sales of its profitable sibling; not luxurious enough and less capable but materially plush rivals such as the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 beckon.
It’s a relief, then, to find that Land Rover has judged this cabin well. The hallmarks of the brand – comfortable chairs with a high hip-point, a simple, sizeable steering rim and utilitarian rubberised mouldings – are still here, as is the striking breadth of the dashboard. The digital instrumentation array makes for a newly sophisticated ambience.
Higher trim levels, including our SE-spec test car, are fitted with digital instruments in place of old-world dials, and standard across the range is the same 10in infotainment display from the Evoque and Land Rover’s rotary climate controls, which are both sleek and intuitive.
Jaguar Land Rover’s latest 10in Touch Pro infotainment system is standard across the Discovery Sport line-up and neatly embedded into the sloping dashboard. On our SE test car, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring were offered, allowing passengers to use apps such as Spotify and Waze or Google Maps. Land Rover also offers an Online Pack with 4G wi-fi hotspot and a 10-speaker Meridian sound system.
However, despite the sleek aesthetic and broad capabilities, this Touch Pro system still falls foul of some familiar usability drawbacks. The menu icons are small and can be difficult to use on the move, and there is a degree of latency you’ll not find in rivals, not least the BMW X3, whose iDrive system also benefits from a central rotary controller. However, the Land Rover hits back with the option of no fewer than six USB-A ports and four 12V outlets.
The cabin feels as hard-wearing as befits the Land Rover badge, but not unduly so. And that’s despite the occasional hard plastic and overall panel fit which is inferior to that of Audi or BMW (but level with Volvo).
The Discovery Sport really hits its stride with its practicality. Head room is generous even with the optional panoramic roof, and the second-row bench can slide backwards to create far more leg room than the average passenger would ever need. Uniquely among the premium cars in this class, a third row of seats is also available on all but the lowliest D150 model. It gives the car an added layer of versatility, even if it is only children who will find them comfortable over any distance.