The new Land Rover Discovery Sport is on the way, and the car is set to replace the ageing Freelander in the Land Rover range. That means it's a five or seven-seater compact SUV, offering buyers a more affordable version of the Range Rover Evoque with the bonus of the prestigious Discovery nameplate.
The Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept shown at the New York Motor Show gives us an idea of how the car will look, along with some spy shots from some eagle-eyed Auto Express readers.
Our exclusive image shows a chunky off-roader look, but we expect it to get a sleeker shape in line with the new concept car.
Read on below for everything you need to know about the Land Rover Discovery Sport, including price, release date, engine details and technical specifications.
The Discovery Sport is expected to debut at the Paris Motor Show later this year, ahead of arriving in showrooms in 2015.
When the new car hits dealers, it will be more affordable than the Range Rover Evoque, which costs from nearly £30,000. The Freelander replacing baby Discovery should start at around £25,000.
Jaguar Land Rover’s new family of Ingenium four-cylinder engines will launch exclusively as a 2.0-litre diesel in the new Jaguar XE saloon early next year, meaning the new Land Rover Discovery Sport will have to launch with the Freelander’s 2.2-litre diesel under the bonnet.
With production ramping up at JLR’s £500m Wolverhampton plant, there won’t be enough supply for both new models at first. However, the 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel is expected to make its way into Discovery Sport models by the end of next year.
The car will be available as a five-seater, but a stretched-wheelbase 5+2 version will also be offered. Yet while the bodywork, interior, engines and badge will be new, the underpinnings will be carried over from the current Freelander.
Even though the new car has a similar footprint to the Evoque, Land Rover is certain the demand is there for both cars. It predicts that the global SUV market will grow from current annual sales of 14 million cars to 22 million by 2020. And the brand has come up with three ‘pillars’ with which to capitalise on this sales boom: luxury, leisure and dual-purpose.
But it’s not just the Discovery range that’s set to grow, as Land Rover wants to introduce around 16 separate models over the next eight years. This includes three Range Rover models, three Evoques and as many as five versions of the new Defender, which is due in 2015.
Speaking to Auto Express, Jaguar Land Rover’s sales and marketing director, Phil Popham discussed the new direction for the Discovery brand: “ I honestly don’t know which direction we’ll take, but it’s not a dissimilar situation to what we were in with Range Rover, where we created a couple and then a family. We had Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, and then went on to create a compact luxury car, the Evoque.”
“With the Discovery range, beyond the Sport and the Discovery, what we do know is anything we create has to be the most versatile car in the segment in which it competes. Is there an option for a bigger car or a smaller car? Possibly, we don’t know yet,” Popham said.
Popham also revealed that as the range continues to grow, Jaguars and Land Rovers could eventually be built abroad and imported to the UK. “We have our plants working 24 hours a day, five days a week plus overtime at weekends right now. We’re going to carry on investing in capacity where it’s needed. As we expand I would say that it’s likely at some point that we will import cars into the UK. We’re always going to be a British company with Britain in our heart, though.”
You can click on the gallery above to see our exclusive preview image of how the car could look - but we now expect the Discovery Sport to resemble the Discovery Vision concept car rather than the Freelander that it replaces.
This image reveals that the Discovery Sport will tone down much of the futuristic, minimalist design that featured on the Land Rover Discovery Vision concept car revealed at the 2014 New York Motor Show. However, familiar Land Rover cabin cues remain, like the large central touchscreen display, the tall, upright dashboard, and the hooded instrument dials fitted into deep Evoque-style lenses.
In a break with the outgoing Freelander’s design, moving the cabin air vents from beside the screen to underneath it has allowed Land Rover to stretch the display’s size, and add extra buttons either side for menu shortcuts.
The rest of the switchgear for the climate control system is hidden under a rudimentary disguise, but is expected to follow the Land Rover norm of large rotary dials controlling temperature and fan speed.
This is our latest look at the new baby Land Rover Discovery (see the pictures in our gallery above). Although heavily disguised, the video and images show the car in near-production trim testing on public roads. It's clear the replacement for the Freelander will be significantly larger than its predecessor and take most of its styling cues from the Range Rover Evoque, with raked back headlights and sculpted flanks.
Two versions will be available from launch, a standard five-seat model and a stretched version, which will offer and additional third row of seating.
Although heavily camouflaged, the front end clearly displays some of the brand DNA from the Evoque, with a large set of headlights that sit flush with the bonnet line, a wide square grille below the front bumper and a high sided design that sits lower to the road than the current model.
At the back the extra glass area does make the L550 seem heavier in profile, but a source told Auto Express that this would be 'A seriously desirable car in its own right.' Gerry McGovern, design boss for Land Rover, has said that this car would be 'sexier' and 'more appealing' than before but without taking too much from its Range Rover siblings.
Under the bonnet, the Baby Discovery will use the new range of Hot Fire 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, which are due to be built at a new engine facility in Wolverhampton. These engines will also power the new Jaguar compact saloon, and can be equipped with either two or four-wheel drive, these should help the newcomer significantly iimprove its economy and CO2 emissions, and make it competitive with cars like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.
Image credit: Tom Levitt
Jaguar Land Rover has announced production of the forthcoming Discovery Sport will take place at its Halewood plant in Merseyside. Around 250 new jobs have also been created to help manage production of the new compact SUV.
More than £200m has been invested in the plant, while the additional jobs to support JLR’s growth will see the Halewood workforce reach 4,750 – more than treble the number employed back in 2010.