Return of Disco: Land Rover unveils the family hauling, off-roading 2015 Discovery Sport

Whoever said compact SUVs couldn’t have style, presence, and versatility clearly hadn’t anticipated the Land Rover Discovery Sport: a compact luxury 4×4 with room for seven.

Land Rover discontinued the Discovery nameplate for the U.S. market back in 2003 and replaced it with the LR3. Well, now it’s back … but this time it’s a bit smaller and rounder.

The 2015 Discovery Sport marks the rebirth of the Discovery for North America and a new way forward for the British 4×4 brand. Where the last Disco was a box build for conquering mountains, the new Disco Sport is built to conquer the commute.

Sure, the handsome, round-y exterior is worthy of its own press release. The interior, though, is where the Disco Sport shines. Despite its diminutive stature, the compact SUV offers 39.8 inches of legroom for the second row, stadium seats. Fold the third row up, however, and the car is transformed into a seven-seater.

Impressively, the Discovery Sport can support more devices than it can people, perfect for those with more gadgets than kids. Land Rover offers up to four 12-volt power outlet and as many as six USB charging sockets. I can hear it now, “You get and iPad, and you get an iPad, and you get an iPad!”

The tech suite doesn’t end there. From the Disco Sport’s 8.0-inch color touchscreen, which can be operated in the same pinch, drag, and swipe gestures as modern smartphones, users can use 3D navigation, Bluetooth, and any number of apps, including iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Glympse, Sygic, Parkopedia, Hotelseeker, Cityseeker, Eventseeker, Airmotion News, Winston and MobileDay.

The nav system also has several clever features, including traffic congestion view, live traffic announcements, historical traffic data, lane guidance icons, customer updatable maps, and traffic sign display at highway junctions. When the Disco Sport is off road, the nav is still useful. The nav will lay down “‘Breadcrumbs,’ which mark the vehicle’s route on the map and allows the driver to re-trace his steps,” “point-to-point navigation, to show the most direct route between two points off-road,” and “lateral and longitudinal coordinates to both locate the vehicle and navigate to off-road destinations.”

Under the clamshell hood is the same turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder found tucked between the frame rails of the Range Rover Evoque. That engine, I should mention, is related to the Ford EcoBoost family of turbocharged engines.

Related: 2014 Land Rover LR4 joyride

The Disco Sport’s 240-horsepower four-banger routes its power through a nine-speed automatic and out to all four wheels through a Haldex all-wheel drive system, which is standard.

For those who’re keen to rock crawl with this bitty Brit, Land Rover has you covered. The infamous Terrain Response system is backed by a slew of acronyms, including Hill Descent Control (HDC), Gradient Release Control (GRC), Roll Stability Control (RSC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Electronic Traction Control (ETC), and Engine Drag Torque Control (EDC). All told, the Disco Sport can climb a 45-degree incline and also start and drive after having been flooded with water for over 30 minutes.

Of course, the Discovery Sport wouldn’t be a ‘Sport’ if it hadn’t been tested on the Nurburgring as well. With Optional Lane Departure Warning, Optional Traffic Sign Recognition, Standard Trailer Stability Assist, and Standard Tow Assist and Tow Hitch Assist, the Disco Sport should be as fun to drive as it is safe.

So, if you’re like me and have hoped for a car that is both compact, ballsy, brash, luxurious, and versatile, your new car has just arrived.

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