Land Rover has unveiled a brand new model this week, the Discover Sport. With one successful compact SUV in its stable in the guise of the Range Rover Evoque, the automaker is eager to capitalize on a another compact that’s more versatile with seven-passenger seating in a “5+2” configuration.
Ample seating was made possible by a new lightweight platform that Land Rover teased just a few weeks ago. While the 2015 Discovery Sport lacks the some of the classic styling cues of the larger Disco, it does embody styling cues of recent Land Rover concepts as well as the aforementioned Evoque.
“The launch of Discovery Sport is a pivotal moment in the 66-year history of Land Rover,” said Phil Popham, Jaguar Land Rover Group Marketing Director. “Not only does it 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.”
A lightweight bodyshell with high torsional rigidity, along with a long wheelbase and a squat, muscular stance, all contribute to the “sport” in the new Discovery Sport. The pronounced step from the rear edge of the hood, high beltline, and a roofline that tapers subtly downward toward the rear, creates a dramatic profile and an athletic look. The Discovery Sport is certainly aerodynamic, but look closely and you’ll find hints of its off-roading capabilities, like the skid plates that are not only functional, but also create a design element along the front and rear fascias.
Powering this new model is a 240 horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive comes standard, naturally. Steering wheel paddle shifters offer complete driver control for dynamic driving, precision off-road maneuvers and manual gear selection while towing. The transmission, lifted from the Evoque, is tuned to be responsive yet smooth, in keeping with the overall refinement of the vehicle.
Off-roading capabilities abound with the Discovery Sport. With all-wheel-drive traction and long-travel suspension for excellent articulation, the Discovery Sport provides impressive all-terrain performance through Land Rover’s grueling 6,800 weeks of pre-production testing. From British country roads to the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Land Rover believes the Discovery Sport is fit.
When the pavement ends, drivers will have a range of features and systems that can help take them where they need to go. This includes the ability to wade through 23.6 inches of water. And with Land Rover’s legendary Terrain Response four-wheel drive system, the Discovery Sport will find sure footing on nearly any surface. Other systems that support off-road and slippery-condition driving include; Gradient Release Control (GRC) which progressively releases the brakes when moving away on an incline for maximum control, Hill Descent Control (HDC) to maintain a set speed while negotiating steep inclines off-road, and Engine Drag Torque Control (EDC) to help prevent lock-up under heavy engine braking in slippery conditions by increasing engine torque to the affected wheels, to name just a few.
Inside, the the Discover Sport is made to be inviting. Upfront, drivers familiar with the larger Discovery will notice and appreciate the brand’s traditional raised Sports Command Driving Position–not just a raised seat height, but also a design that positions the seat, pillars and dash to maximize forward visibility. Range Rover cabin design has also infiltrated this pint-sized Discovery, bringing strong vertical lines and slimmer horizontal elements. Everything is easily within reach of the driver, who will also get all the vehicle info and data they need from the 5-inch color TFT display positioned between the main gauges. This delivers data relating to fuel levels, gear position, coolant temperature and Terrain Response modes.
All Land Rover Discovery Sport models come standard with leather appointed seating, ranging from grained part-leather on SE models up to luxurious Windsor leather on the range-topping HSE Luxury. Five interior color options include Ebony, Cirrus, Ivory, Almond and Tan. There’s even configurable mood lighting, controlled via the central 8-inch touch screen. Engineers managed to squeeze in storage and power points throughout the cabin, perfect for customers with families. For children, the fun of gaming on the iPad doesn’t have to stop; three-row models can have as many as six USB charging sockets, allowing multiple electronic devices to be recharged simultaneously.
Prices for the all-new 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport start at $37,995. This new model is expected to arrive in showrooms early next year. When it does, compacts like the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK will undoubtedly have a huge problem on their hands, as the Discovery Sport offers a compelling proposition–performance, off-road prowess, seating for seven, and the ability to still fit within parking spaces labeled “compacts only.”