Ian Lamming finds he is never too old to learn in Land Rover’s new Discovery Sport

SO you think you can drive and you know your car, eh?

Well, you probably can’t and don’t, unless you buy a Land Rover, of course. That’s because when you do opt for the green oval badge – even a used one – you get the chance to enjoy the Land Rover Experience (at a designated centre near you).

In this case it was in the Yorkshire Dales, near Skipton, for the launch of the new Discovery Sport, having driven overland on some of the best roads the Lake District and North Yorkshire have to offer.

What the centre has to offer is a rare opportunity to take your Landy down in the dirt. That’s the thing about SUVs, especially proper 4x4s, in our daily lives, our urban grind, most of us never really get to test them out properly.

We swan and pose our way around towns and cities, along motorways and urban roads, perhaps using them to about ten per cent of their true capabilities. They all work well as cars but why have all that expensive gubbins under the skin that you seldom use?

Balancing on a precipice, two of the new Discover Sport’s four wheels hanging in the air, it’s time to consider the capabilities of a premier off-roader. Sport might look all posh and smart in its new clothes but there’s a fine pair of hiking boots lurking underneath.

Plummeting from a height the little Disco’s wizardry comes into play, slowing progress down the steep track to a manageable speed, preventing any lock up and controlling the SUV in a seemly fashion. Even the car before, which attacks the descent with gusto, cocking a leg like a demented can-can dancer, reaches the bottom intact.

It’s so impressive, incredible in fact, as is the fact my instructor Amy takes us through a mirky swamp you would never dare tackle on your own. New Discovery Sport will wade through depths of up to 2ft, that’s the same as the old Defender. It’s unnerving hearing the water lap around the doors, which are designed to fill up to give the car more ballast – how clever is that? When it emerges like a Labrador from the lake, it shakes the excess clear as you move onto the next obstacle – a 27 degree traverse.

OMG, it feels like you are going to topple, that you could drop the window and dab the ground, which appears so close, but no, another obstacle passes by with a shrug of the Sport’s wide shoulders.

Inside the new-look cabin there’s a control knob which helps the clever stuff differentiate between snow, muds, rocks, gravel and sand – or you can put it into auto which does it all for you.

Whatever the conditions the Discovery Sport simply eats them up and when you are back on terra-firma it takes on the roads manners of a comfortable estate with plush, controlled ride and heaps of equipment.

The off-road capabilities could be useful to us all though as our weather deteriorates alarmingly with global warming and the roads crumble before continued austerity.

Both 2.0 diesel and petrol motors are refined and lusty and handling is impeccable. Economy, while improved, no doubt thanks to mild hybrid support, could still be better, but there is no questioning how the Sport performs.

New Discovery Sport is just that, new, not just a light facelift. It is still distinctively Discovery Sport but the new look freshens what was a pretty solid design.

Trademark Discovery design cues, including the clamshell bonnet, rising beltline and tapered roof remain, but the new model features new signature LED headlamps at the front and rear, alongside an updated front grille and bumpers.

Inside, there are seven seats – very useful – and updated dash featuring Land Rover’s latest digital Touch Pro infotainment system. It is also more spacious with a bigger boot and high specification.

New Discovery Sport is even more capable than the model it replaces, not that many drivers will appreciate that. At least the wise and wily will take the opportunity to test them out on the Land Rover Experience day, after which they will definitely be able to drive and know there new car better.

Fact File

Model: Land Rover Discovery Sport

Engine: 2.0 litre, turbo diesel/petrol

Drivetrain: nine-speed auto

Power: 180-200hp

Top speed: 125-128mph

0-62mph: 9.4-8.6 secs

Miles per gallon (combined): 37.2-30.2

CO2 (g/km): 142-179

Price: £31,575.00 - £49,675.00