The launch of the Land Rover Discovery Sport as a replacement for the Freelander has left a number of prospective Range Rover Evoke buyers in a bit of a quandary.
Do they stick to their guns and go for the more streamlined and trendy Range Rover or do they go for the chunky , more spacious Discovery Sport?
Both are – depending upon which specification you go for – in the same ball park when it comes to price, share a number of common parts beneath the skin and both are produced at Halewood on Merseyside – so it’s a difficult call.
It wasn’t such a hard decision when the aging Freelander was still being produced but its replacement is a good looking and very capable car, reflecting the design of the full sized Discovery but in a smaller package.
There is still, however, an abundance of space in the Sport.
In fact it’s 10 inches longer than the Evoke and that additional length allows it to have two extra seats in the luggage area which fold flat into the floor when not in use.
And the fact that the middle row of seats will slide backwards and forwards to give either more legroom or more luggage space also means even adults can sit in the fold-up seats in comfort.
Opt for the top-of-the-range HSE model and you get almost everything you can think of when it comes to luxury motoring.
There’s full leather upholstery and a leather covered dashboard, the ten-way adjustable front seats can be cooled or heated, the middle row seats can also be heated as can the steering wheel and windscreen and for good measure there’s a panoramic glass roof and powered tailgate.
The tall stance of the Sport, aided by 19-inch alloys with plenty of bodywork clearance for off-road use, means all-round visibility is superb which helps when it comes to manoeuvring, and there is a rear view colour camera for reversing as well as parking sensors to make things easier.
The fitting of an automatic nine-speed gearbox means you not only get sensible economy but relaxed, quiet motoring too with the revs always kept low as the car skips through the gears quickly.
There are paddles behind the steering wheel so you can change gear manually if you want but this is such an efficient box you rarely feel the need.
And while the weight of the Sport results in it not being super quick off the mark it shows an impressive turn of mid-range speed when you hit the accelerator hard on the move.
The car I tried had the 2.2-litre diesel engine fitted, and while this has now been replaced by a new 2.0-litre model there are plenty of very low mileage versions of this engine still available.
And whichever you opt for you get Land Rover’s terrain response system which, coupled with hill descent control, means you won’t get into trouble when it comes to tackling tough off-road work.
The Discovery Sport HSE Luxury is not cheap but does offer all the comforts of luxury motoring with the added knowledge that should you decide to venture off the highway – even though you have no low ratio gears – you will be able to tackle almost everything thrown at you.
Model: Land Rover Discovery Sport HSE Luxury
Mechanical: 2179 cc, 190 bhp, 4 cyl diesel engine driving all wheels via 9spd automatic gearbox.
Max speed: 117 mph
0-62mph: 8.9 secs
Combined mpg: 44.9 mpg
CO2 emissions: 166 g/km
Insurance group: 33E
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited mileage