Land Rover is testing its new Discovery Sport model – the car which will replace the Freelander in 2015.
Caught on public roads near the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) technology base in Gaydon, Warwickshire, this Land Rover Discovery Sport is still disguised but we can make out plenty of the new 4×4 under the camouflage.
This specimen is powered by the 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel, likely to be one of the mainstay engines of the new junior SUV range. But JLR is readying a new family of inhouse four-cylinder engines dubbed ‘Ingenium’ and due later in 2015.
The Disco Sport will offer both front- and four-wheel drive; no surprise, since it is based heavily around the steel architecture underpinning the Range Rover Evoque.
Land Rover Discovery Sport: what do these spy photos tell us?
The front-end design will be familiar from the recent roster of Land Rover launches: hints of Evoque here, shades of Range Rover Sport there.
The Disco Sport’s headlamps are slimline affairs and this prototype appears to mimic some of the air vents and grille details shown on the 2014 Discovery Vision concept car.
And check out the C-pillar, which follows a conventional rearward angle, rather than the switchback swoosh of the New York show car. Our spies report that the glasshouse uses black gloss cladding for a floating roof effect; peel away the white tape on the B-pillars, and piano black is beneath, like on a Mini.
Although the Disco Sport is a similar size to the Freelander it replaces, it will offer variants with five or seven seats. Land Rover marketing chief Phil Popham told CAR: ‘It will be like a compact Discovery – but smaller than the Vision concept car. You’ll see it next year.’
Why Land Rover is abandoning the Freelander name
Land Rover kickstarted the replacement strategy for its LR models with the Discovery Vision concept car at the 2014 New York motor show; it presages the new Discovery 5, which will switch to an aluminium construction in line with the Range Rover Sport.
The company is trading off the success of the Discovery nameplate by switching the Freelander to associate its smallest SUV with its larger seven-seater. Hence why Land Rover has been celebrating 25 years of Discovery this year.
A whole family of Discovery models is promised and it kind of makes sense; think of the relationship between Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Land Rover hopes to make the same connection between Discovery and Discovery Sport.
Land Rover: business is booming
Land Rover sales have been strong in recent years, supercharged in particular by the Range Rover Evoque, which has gone from zero to 113,000 sales a year in pretty short order.
But 70% of Land Rover sales are Range Rovers – ironic, for the more expensive, more premium side of the family. Now Gaydon is fighting back with a real focus to relaunch the Land Rover bread-and-butter models. The Discovery Sport is the start of that renewal.