It seems like only yesterday that we compared luxury off-roaders from the very top end of the 4×4 market. Today the crosshairs slide down into the middle ground.

This must be a parallel universe. Less than 12 months ago we balanced BMW’s X5 against a Range Rover Sport (profi, 9/15), and now here we are with an X3 and a Discovery Sport. Same makers, equivalent models, just less cash needed to buy them. How much less fun is it to roost lower in the family tree? BMW’s entry in the mid-size SUV market is the X3.

Last updated in early 2014, it comes with three engine options giving from 150hp to 313(!)hp. Sadly sense ruled, sending us to the 190hp 2.0-litre model in fiveseat, xDrive, M Sport form. That lines up nicely on cost with Land Rover’s Discovery Sport in HSE trim, whose 2.0-litre e-Capability motor raises just 150hp and is reckoned the most efficient of the company’s new Ingenium four-cylinder engines.

The Sport replaced the similar-sized Freelander and is the smallest model in LR’s expanded Discovery range. Power parity with the BMW only comes if you choose the 180hp Sport HSE, which brings seven seats whether you want them or not, an option not available on the X3. Towing limits are 2t.

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