Forget the Freelander, if you want a mid-sized 4×4 with a Land Rover badge there’s now this, the Discovery Sport.
It picks up where the Freelander left off with very impressive towing ability. At speed the Land Rover Discovery Sport felt a little more susceptible to crosswinds than the BMW X3, but we certainly had no nervous moments. The Al-Ko ATC sensors on the caravan showed how little the caravan moved around when slowing from high speeds.
The Discovery Sport performed superbly in the lane-change test. The caravan only began to slide during the third and fastest run, and the Land Rover was very definitely in charge of the caravan throughout.
Under the bonnet – for now at least – the Discovery Sport is powered by the ageing SD4 engine. There’s no arguing with its performance, as the 30-60mph time of 11.6 seconds shows, but the engine is noisier than the 2.0-litre diesel in the BMW X3 and X4.
From September 2015, the SD4 will be replaced by the new ‘Ingenium’ diesel engine. That should improve refinement as well as emissions and economy, areas in which the Discovery Sport currently falls short of the X3.
However, there are strong reasons for choosing the Land Rover over the BMW. For one thing, it has space for seven rather than five. With the third row folded into the floor there’s lots of boot space (our practicality testers found room for every item of holiday luggage). The Discovery Sport earns more marks for its trailer stability system and the useful reversing camera.