FOOTY trips are rarely remembered for luxury and serenity. Yet the hour-long journey was achieved without ruckus, complaints or shenanigans…albeit aided by the fact we didn't stop at any watering holes and everyone kept their pants buckled.
Luckily it was a family sojourn, but with six on board within the Land Rover Discovery Sport it was an outing with a difference.
The Disco Sport has been around for a couple of years, but this was the first time we'd sampled its "5+2" seating configuration.
It's a rare beast, with mid-sizers restricted to five seats. Honda is about to launch a seven-seat version of the CR-V, Nissan has a version of the X-Trail which can handle a netball team, but no other premium offering caters for the extended family.
Costing an additional $2050, and $1180 if you want to give them third row air-con vents, it becomes a genuine seven-seater for about $70,000.
Devil is in the detail…or in this case the option list.
Bespoke is all the rage, and premium marques are more than happy to satisfy the appetite for difference.
There are packs and variances of all persuasions; metallic paint is an extra $1340 if you don't want white (premium metallic is $2680), panoramic sunroof is $1850, illuminated aluminium tread plates are $790 and an upgraded entertainment pack including television is $3850.
Basic safety gear is solid including lane departure warning abd rear view camera, but you have to dig deep for the top-notch gizmos which are suddenly becoming prevalent on mainstream offerings.
For example radar cruise control is $1410, head-up display costs $1550, while blind spot and reverse traffic detection is $1180.
Standard gear is still plush, with leather trim, two-zone air-con, power tailgate, eight-inch touch-screen and a 10-speaker Meridian sound system with full bluetooth connectivity.
On the road
Ride and on-road finesse is outstanding, aided by tyres which have a reasonable wall (rather than optioning the massive rims with low profile sporting rubber).
When under way it's quiet with little engine noise, road or tyre rumble.
There are a choice of two 2.2-litre diesel engines: our test variant pumped out 132kW whereas the other derivative generates 110kW.
It's strong and willing, and never struggled even with the six-strong family on board.
Through some twisty stuff at speed the Disco Sport shines with car-like prowess.
Changing direction is undertaken with confidence and you rarely feel any of the performance compromises which traditionally come with an SUV.
Fuel consumption was about 8.5 litres for every 100km, which was about three litres more thirsty than the quoted average despite some lazy highway journeys.
The third row is designed for limited use due to the confined leg space (and they don't have a top tether point for child seats), but it's fine for kids and even short adults.
When deployed the third row head rests stand tall and impede rear vision, and boot space all but disappears - only good for a couple of camping chairs and umbrellas.
Seven seats offer brilliant family flexibility, whether taking the grandparents, friends... and it's also a handy option if you need to separate bickering pint-sizers.
Land Rover has a niche here for those who don't want to step up a size to a large SUV. High levels of refinement, off-road ability and a strong diesel engine make the Discovery Sport an appealing premium option - just be careful with how many ticks you place on the options list.
17MY Discovery Sport 180 HSE TD4
Engine: 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel 132kW/430Nm.
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic.
Safety: Five-star, seven airbags.
Thirst: 5.3 litres/100km (combined average).
Dimensions: 4599mm (L), 2173mm (W), 1724 (H), 2741 (WB).
Spare: Full size.
Towing: 2200kg; tow ball 145kg (five-seater is 150kg).
Performance 0-100kmh: 8.9 seconds.
What matters most
Warranty: Three years/100,000 kilometres with roadside assist for the same period.
Capped price servicing: Not available.
Service intervals: Annual or every 26,000km.
What's it got: Beautiful on-road manners with refined cabin, functional and premium cabin, strong diesel.
What's it hasn't: Seven-seat competition in this size, top tether in third row for child seats, enough standard kit.
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