Land Rover’s new seven-seat Discovery Sport, spied and teased extensively in recent months, has been revealed in the UK this week.
The new 4WD SUV will mark a long-overdue retirement for the small Freelander, with the ‘Disco’ Sport set to be the first in a new family of Discovery-badged models.
The Discovery Sport represents a dramatic departure from the iconic Land Rover look, introducing a streamlined and modern design language.
Design boss Gerry McGovern highlights the new Sport’s take on the familiar Land Rover ‘clam shell’ bonnet, the rising belt line and tapered roof profile as the key styling elements of this new look.
Land Rover describes the Discovery Sport as an “all-new premium compact SUV”, but it’s no mere ‘softroader’: McGovern promises it will be “the most versatile and capable” model in its class.
Despite its new urbanised looks, Land Rover says the new SUV’s development focused heavily on the brand’s go-anywhere philosophy, while introducing a host of new comfort and convenience technologies.
In The Cabin
McGovern describes the Sport’s cabin as “premium but not precious”, its design emphasising a modern take on classic Land Rover styling.
A prominent centre console again dominates the front row, with strong vertical bars again evoking that familiar Land Rover language.
There’s a traditional no-nonsense layout to the instruments and switches, with a large eight-inch centre display set back into the top of the centre stack.
That display will act as a hub for new ‘InControl’ functions that will also offer 3G internet connectivity and access to emergency services.
The longer wheelbase has allowed Land Rover to move the second row forward 160mm without sacrificing leg space, in the process allowing greater comfort in the third row.
The third row can also be folded to the floor to allow for greater storage space, although specific numbers are still to come.
"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," Jaguar Land Rover marketing boss Phil Popham said.
"Discovery Sport's versatility is a key differentiator. It is quite simply the most accomplished vehicle in its segment."
Under The Surface
As with the Range Rover Evoque that again shares its platform, the Discovery Sport is built on a steel monocoque chassis.
While the brand’s larger Range Rover and Range Rover Sport models have moved to an aluminium design, Land Rover’s new Discovery Sport benefits instead from an increased use of high-strength steel to improve rigidity and minimise weight gain.
The new Sport doesn’t go entirely without aluminium, however, with the light-weight material featuring in the roof, guards, bonnet and tailgate.
The new Discovery Sport is a larger unit than its Freelander predecessor. With a 4590mm overall length it is 91mm longer, riding on an wheelbase that has been stretched 80mm.
Land Rover says these changes have primarily worked to increase rear storage and passenger comfort in the second and third rows.
Overall, the new model boasts a kerb weight of around 1815kg (depending on the model), which is around the same as the smaller Freelander and nearly 900kg lighter than the current large Discovery model.
Suspension is by MacPherson struts at the front and a new multi-link arrangement with aluminium knuckles and links at the rear - a design which also improves rear space compared to the suspension towers of the previous arrangement.
The new design promises greater on-road comfort and agility, but Land Rover says its new Terrain Response system also promises off-road capabilities not far off those of its larger siblings.
In the UK, the Discovery Sport will initially be offered with a 140kW 2.2 SD4 diesel (also used by PSA Peugeot Citroen and Ford), mated to an all-wheel-drive system as standard.
A second entry-level version of the 2.2 litre diesel will be offered, in the form of the 110kW TD4 form.
Nine-speed ZF auto and six-speed manual transmissions will be available.
There will also be a 2.0 litre Si4 petrol engine offered, again matched with the nine-speed auto and all-wheel-drive.
Down the road, the Sport’s options will grow with the addition of an all-new ED4 diesel that will in fact be drawn from Jaguar Land Rover’s new Ingenium four-cylinder range. The same engine will appear in the new Jaguar XE.
Two-wheel-drive versions of the Discovery Sport are also expected, cutting weight by around 80kg and contributing to lower fuel consumption and emissions figures.
The new Discovery Sport will make its global sales debut in May next year, with an Australian launch to follow not long after.
Stay tuned to TMR for more.