The new Land Rover Discovery Sport has been confirmed as the name of the new Freelander replacement in the Land Rover range - a five or seven-seater compact SUV that will go on sale in 2015.
The look of the new three-car Discovery range was previewed in New York by the Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept, although it will be more toned down for the road-going model. Our exclusive image shows a chunky off-roader look, but we also expect it to get a sleeker shape in line with the new concept car.
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.”
We expect the car to be unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in October of this year.
“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.
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.
The Discovery Sport will benefit from the brand’s range of all-new four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, which will be built at a new £500million Engine Manufacturing Centre in Wolverhampton, W Mids, from 2015. Land Rover claims these will deliver “class-leading levels of refinement and significant reductions in emissions”.
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.
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.