Land Rover's all-new Discovery Sport is a direct replacement for the entry-level Freelander or LR2 in North America.
It's the first chapter in Land Rover's latest product plan that will eventually spawn an entire family of Discovery-branded models – possibly up to four models, including the successor to the bigger Discovery LR4 and an in-between version.
The 2015 Discovery Sport will go on sale worldwide early next year offering Land Rover a contemporary rival in the highly popular luxury compact SUV category against the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK.
It is built on a 107.9-inch (2,741mm) wheelbase with an overall length of 180.7-inches (4,590mm), making it 91mm longer overall and 80mm longer between the two axles than the Freelander / LR2 it replaces.
It has a 5+2 seating layout, which differentiates it from its main German rivals, with second-row passengers sitting two-inches (50mm) higher than front-seat occupants. Along with a 60/40 split seatback, the second row also includes a recline feature and can slide rearward by up to 6.3-inches (160mm), offering up to 39.8-inches (1,011mm) of legroom.
“Not only does Discovery Sport mark the introduction of the first new member of our expanding Discovery family, it also brings the versatility of 5+2 seating to the compact premium SUV market,” said Phil Popham, Jaguar Land Rover Group Marketing Director. “Discovery Sport’s versatility is a key differentiator. It is quite simply the most accomplished vehicle in its segment.”
The exterior design of the Discovery Sport is a more compact and a tad less futuristic interpretation of the Discovery Vision Concept shown in New York this past April. We'd have to see in person for a more accurate verdict, but our first take is that LR design boss Gerry McGovern and his team have created a handsome-looking SUV.
On the inside, the dashboard is less impressive and looks very similar to the one used on the Range Rover Evoque, albeit with a more upright center console.
The British SUV is offered with all the usual modern day amenities, from a new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that integrates voice-controlled satellite-navigation, WiFi hotspot connectivity and an all-terrain mode, to standard dual-zone electronic climate control and an automatic de-fogger.
LR's baby Disco rides on a modified version of the Evoque's platform with the body shell made from a combination of high-strength steel, ultra high-strength boron steel and lightweight aluminum. It has a multilink rear suspension and electric power steering.
Available driver-assistance systems include Lane Departure Warning, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Traffic Sign Recognition and Tow Assist and Tow Hitch Assist.
In North America, it will launch with the same 240hp and 250 lb-ft 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine found on the Evoque, paired to a standard 9-speed automatic transmission and Haldex All-Wheel Drive.
In the UK and other European markets, Land Rover will offer a 187hp (190PS) 2.2-liter turbo diesel available exclusively with all-wheel drive, and either a 9-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual. Later in the year, LR will enhance the range with a two wheel drive eD4 turbodiesel engine boasting CO2 emissions as low as 119g/km.
In regards to its off-road capabilities, the British brand says the new Discovery Sport has 8.3-inches (212mm) of ground clearance and approach, departure and breakover angles of 25, 31 and 21 degrees, respectively, while it can scale gradients of up to 45 degrees. You can also remove the lower bumper trim to increase the approach angle.
According to LR, their new SUV underwent waterlog tests as well.
''During this extreme torture test, the Discovery Sport is parked in standing water, the watertight doors are opened, and the interior is intentionally flooded," says LR. "After 30 minutes in the water, Land Rover tests the ability for the vehicle to restart and drive."
The new Discovery Sport will enjoy its world premiere at the forthcoming Paris Auto Show in October