► CAR lives with a 2020 Disco Sport
► Facelift brings new tech and features
► Is it the forgotten Land Rover?
Poor Disco Sport: totally drowned out by all the coverage and James Bond hype surrounding the new Defender. Which is a shame, because the Sport deserves a bit of attention. Since the MkII was launched last year, it's a much improved family SUV – and yes, I'd say it is a MkII, because the changes were much deeper than a mere facelift.
As well as the restyled exterior and interior, under the skin it got a revised front end using the new Premium Transverse Architecture subframe (also found in the second-gen Range Rover Evoque). That means mild-hybrid 48-volt electrics and a PHEV; it's also transformed the ride and cabin refinement.
This much we know from the car's launch; now we'll find out what it's like to live with, day to day.
The Disco Sport configurator has a fork in the road at the very first step: there's the Standard car, which gives Land Rover its £31,905 entry price; and the R-Dynamic, which immediately adds a £10k premium. That base price means the weakest diesel engine (the D150), a manual 'box and 17-inch alloys – the kind of bare-minimum farmer spec that rarely gets ordered in 2020.
Our car is an R-Dynamic, which upgrades you to 18-inch wheels minimum, an auto 'box, different bumpers, body-coloured arches and lots of extra interior trim details. Of the three diesels and two petrol engines available – all 2.0-litre Ingenium four-cylinders – we've gone for the most powerful diesel, the D240, which means 237bhp and 369lb ft.
Then you pick from three trim levels: S, SE or HSE. Our HSE gets (among other things, on a gigantic standard equipment list): 20-inch alloys; 'premium' LED headlights; a Meridian sound system; plus lots of extra convenience features, like a powered tailgate, keyless entry, and a rear-view mirror that can turn into a rear-facing video screen.
We're now at just over £50k, before you start adding options.
Yes, okay, I concede: our car is silver (Indus Silver, £705), which you might say is boring; but whenever I see Disco Sports on the road, old or new, I think darker colours make it look too heavy and slab-sided.
Combined with the black contrast roof (£610) silver emphasises the swept-back glass-house and that dynamic, angled C-pillar. Add optional 21-inch alloys (£780), and I reckon our Sport looks absolutely awesome.
Inside, the biggest decision is five seats or seven. A warning to anyone who's ordering a car: the button to choose between five seats and the third-row option seems kind of hidden under the seat-fabric options in the configurator. Which I think is weird, given the seating layout is such a big part of the Discovery Sport's appeal.
Anyway, in the end I went for five seats, which means a slightly bigger boot and allows for the full-size spare option (though adding that wheel in the boot costs a steep £875).
Inside I've gone for the non-leather, Light Oyster/Ebony Luxtec and suedecloth seats, a no-cost option. I love it, but everyone who's seen the car so far takes one look and winces at all those creamy white surfaces. How they'll fare in a family off-roader, time will tell. Marmite sandwich, anyone?
Add in the Natural Shadow Oak veneer panels (£80) and the fixed panoramic roof (£1120) and it's a really light, modern, Scandi-style interior. I love it.
In the end, our Disco Sport comes in at £60,120, which puts it into Discovery and Velar territory. It's also, funnily enough, the same price as the new Defender 110 First Edition. Our new Disco Sport has six months to carve out a distinctive place for itself.
By Mark Walton
Logbook: Land Rover Discovery Sport D240 HSE R-Dynamic
Price £50,635 (£60,120 as tested)
Performance 1999cc turbodiesel four-cyl, 237bhp, 7.9sec 0-62mph, 137mph
Efficiency 36.6mpg (official), 32.5mpg (tested), 202g/km CO2
Energy cost TBC
Miles this month 324
Total miles 984