For its legions of diehard loyalists, it’s the “Disco.” For the rest of the world, it’s the Discovery. But this time around, things are a bit different. It’s a new sport utility vehicle from the legendary Land Rover brand, but the name “Discovery” is followed by “Sport.” Yes, as in “Discovery Sport.”
Land Rover has taken the wraps off its all-new Discovery Sport, poised to be one of the world’s most versatile and capable premium compact SUV’s, at last month’s Paris Motor Show. The first member of Land Rover’s new Discovery family, the Discovery Sport features 5+2 seating in a footprint no larger than existing 5-seat premium SUVs.
And when you first rest your eyes on its sleek sheet metal, you’d be forgiven for scratching your head. It’s called a Discovery, but it has none of the bolt-upright design of any previous Discovery. And even if it can seat as many as seven, it’s a tad smaller than its seven-seat namesakes as well.
That’s because the new Discovery Sport fills a new niche—in terms of size, price, and seating capacity—between the midsized Discovery and the compact Freelander. Which is why Land Rover officials adamantly repeated in Paris that the all-new Discovery Sport replaces neither the Discovery nor the Freelander.
Style-wise, the Discovery Sport shares the wedge-profiled nose of the Range Rover Sport, Evoque, and a little bit of the Freelander 2. Its side profile is easily the sportiest of all Land Rovers and Range Rovers, perhaps with the exception of the very sharp-looking Evoque. The only styling heritage it seems to share with the traditional Discovery is the prominent, wide C-pillar design, this time rendered with a slim black horizontal strip that connects the pillar to the roof, making the latter seem that it is floating.
Versatile luxury is reflected in Discovery Sport’s interior. It features high-quality materials and a strong vertical center console graphic to reflect the premium design of the exterior, while the core Discovery value of versatility is evident everywhere. Storage spaces are integrated into the cabin and up to four 12V power points and six USB charging sockets can be specified for all three rows of seating.
A host of innovations have allowed Discovery Sport to introduce the versatility of 5+2 seating into the premium compact SUV class for the first time. An all-new multi-link rear axle not only provides engaging driving dynamics but it also provides ample and flexible cabin space behind the second row. It even has two different spare tire sizes and locations to maximize interior space, depending on whether you get the five-seater or the seven-seater model.
Coupled with supple long-travel suspension, the innovative rear axle also ensures the Discovery Sport is comfortable, refined and rewarding to drive on-road, while retaining the breadth of all-terrain capability Land Rover is world-renowned for. In fact, with approach, departure and breakover angles of 25, 31 and 21 degrees respectively, Terrain Response technology, and the ability to wade to 600mm, Discovery Sport offers class-leading capability in all conditions.
As with every new Land Rover, safety has been a key priority in the development of the new Discovery Sport, resulting in a first-in-class pedestrian airbag, autonomous emergency braking, and a state-of-the-art bodyshell featuring both ultra-high-strength steel and lightweight aluminum.
This represents a fraction of the advanced equipment available in Discovery Sport, which also includes Head-Up Display, an all-new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and tilt-and-slide row-two seating for maximum interior configurability.
At launch the Discovery Sport will be equipped with a range of four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. Both the all-alloy Si4 2.0-liter petrol engine and the 2.2-liter turbodiesel feature stop-start technology, high-pressure direct injection, low-friction internal components and smart regenerative charging for outstanding performance and economy.
Later in 2015, a highly efficient ED4 turbodiesel engine will join the range with CO2 emissions of just 119g/km. Both 9-speed (yes, 9!) automatic and 6-speed manual transmissions are available, along with a choice of two- or four-wheel-drive.
Land Rover’s global sales continue to go from strength to strength after a record year for vehicle sales in 2013. Last year Land Rover set a new full-year sales benchmark, retailing 348,338 vehicles—up 15 percent—and this year looks set to be another record-breaker. Discovery Sport will be produced at Land Rover’s award-winning manufacturing facility at Halewood, Liverpool. It goes on sale in early 2015 alongside the existing seven-seat Land Rover Discovery in over 170 markets worldwide.
“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.”