Land Rover confirmed at the New York Motor Show 2014 that its Freelander replacement will be called Discovery Sport, that it will be available with five or seven seats and that it’ll go on sale in 2015. We expect the car to be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October of this year.
Land Rover bosses have also spoken openly for the first time about the expansion of the Discovery family beyond the replacement for the current Discovery (likely to be seen late in 2015) and the arrival of the Discovery Sport. The look of the new three-car Discovery range was previewed in New York by the Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept.
Speaking to Auto Express, Jaguar Land Rover’s sales and marketing director, Phil Popham said: “ 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 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.
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.
A full production debut for the car is penned in for the Paris Motor Show 2014, with a release date likely to be 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.
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
The radical rethink is part of Land Rover’s long-term strategy to divide its products into three distinct ‘pillars’. The ‘luxury’ pillar already contains the three Range Rover models; it will be rounded off by the luxurious Range Rover Ultimate, plus the long-wheelbase Range Rover.
The ‘dual purpose’ pillar will contain the new Defender family. This leaves the Discovery and its new Discovery Sport baby brother to fill the ‘leisure’ pillar – hence the Discovery lettering on the nose, which takes cues from the 2014 model.