Following the towering success of the Range Rover Evoque, which has trebled the company’s sales expectations ever since its launch in 2011, Land Rover has also decided to revolutionise its Halewood stablemate, which is almost identical under the skin.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport – which is available to order in January with deliveries expected during Q2 of next year – has been comprehensively redesigned and lengthened compared with the Freelander, with new rear suspension and a ‘five-plus-two’ seating format.
It is packed with technology, including a new infotainment system that will spread through the range and a new kind of exterior pedestrian airbag on the bonnet.
Land Rover believes that it will attract both the Freelander faithful and a new generation of buyers who wouldn’t have considered a Discovery before.
With a four-level range starting at £32,395 and reaching into the lower £40,000s, the new Sport is the first member of an emerging new-generation Discovery family whose incumbents will lay special emphasis on SUV practicality and stand between the company’s two other emerging model pillars: the rugged Defender family and luxurious Range Rover line-up.
Design boss Gerry McGovern calls it the pioneering model in a forthcoming generation of Discoverys that aim to show that premium positioning can be combined with practicality without unhappy compromises in either direction.
McGovern claims that he’s especially proud of the Sport’s dynamic shape – the way that its ‘fast’ clamshell bonnet works with well raked screens front and rear, a rising beltline, a gently descending roofline (although not enough to compromise interior headroom) and a carefully developed rear spoiler that cuts drag and is also able to keep the rear screen clean in murky weather.
Inside the Sport, there’s a sumptuous but unthreatening interior (“premium but not precious” is McGovern’s description). It is reminiscent of other modern Land Rovers in the way that it emphasises strong vertical lines via a prominent centre console, which is nevertheless a little lower and more careful with space than that of the Range Rover Sport.
BODY AND CHASSIS
The Sport is 4590mm long – 91mm longer overall and 80mm longer in the wheelbase than the Freelander. That seems relatively little growth in bulk given the impressive space increases in both the boot and rear compartments.
The Sport’s new chassis package includes improved disc brakes all round, a new variable-ratio electric power steering system, the option of an autonomous emergency braking system (it sees obstacles that you don’t) and a new external airbag that aims to reduce the injuries of pedestrians thrown on to the bonnet in an accident.
GVE London Ltd
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