Settle down, Range Rover, and your Sport and Evoque cousins. It’s now Land Rover’s turn for a high-tech new 4x4 family, and it kicks off with the new Land Rover Freelander. Except, as CAR reported earlier in 2013, the Freelander replacement will bin that name – and, hopes Land Rover, the moniker’s poor reliability connotations.
The new entry-level Land Rover will graduate to ‘Discovery’ family membership, offering a more compact alternative to the larger, seven-seat Disco.
While the full-size new Discovery will move to an aluminium chassis in a bid to slash its morbidly obese 2500kg kerbweight, the baby Disco you see in these spy shots will stick with a steel platform, updated from its role supporting the trendy little Evoque.
Like the current Freelander, there’ll be a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Other drivetrain components are getting a serious upgrade, ready to compete with future small SUVs from BMW, Audi, and even Lexus’s new crossover.
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The nine-speed automatic transmission, already used in the Evoque, is set to be included in the new baby Discovery line-up. Plus, there’ll be a suite of new four-cylinder turbodiesel and petrol engines, once Jaguar Land Rover’s new £500m Wolverhampton engine facility starts churning out powerplants from 2016. In the meantime, updated versions of the Evoque’s current range of four-pots will soldier on.
The full-size aluminium Discovery will of course offer seven seats, but from the look of CAR’s latest spy shots, it looks as though there could be space behind the baby Disco’s second row to squeeze in a pair of foldable jump seats, a la Range Rover Sport.
Such an arrangement would encourage families upsizing from the five-seater only Evoque to stick with Land Rover – and keep JLR’s sales booming into the second half of the decade. We’ll find out if the plan works when the new SUV arrives in late 2014, priced from around £25,000 – £40,000.