This is it. Say goodbye to the Freelander and say hello to the new Discovery Sport. Land Rover is bringing the Freelander replacement into the new Discovery family and even the lettering on the trademark clamshell bonnet and tailgate are now replaced with “Discovery” instead of “Land Rover”. This is the first new generation Land Rover that’s not under the Range Rover line and it has been a long time coming.
Even though the exterior might look like a bloated Evoque, it’s definitely sleeker and less utilitarian than the upright Freelander. It marks a new design direction for Land Rover’s leisure-oriented Discovery line with the new slim double-bar grille in the streamlined nose, fender vents, and a rising beltline that gives the Discovery Sport a sporty appearance, no pun intended. The sleek design results the drag co-efficiency of 0.36 Cd.
Halogen headlamps with LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) and LED foglamps comes as standard but Xenon and LED is available with the Signature headlamps while Signature Plus will add Adaptive cornering technology. There’s also a Black Pack that comprise of black grille, door mirror caps, front fender vents, bonnet and tailgate lettering, and a contrasting roof in either Santorini Black or Corris Grey. A choice of 19 or 20-inch wheels are available for the Black Pack too.
The Discovery Sport sits 16 mm lower than the Freelander at 1,724 mm, 2,173 mm wide, and measures just slightly longer than the outgoing Freelander at 4,590 mm long but the wheelbase has been stretched by 81 mm to 2,741 mm. The growth in length allows the new Discovery Sport to offer seating for up to seven occupants with stadium-style seating. The middle seats recline and slide by 160 mm to ease entrance to the optional third row seats. Luggage capacity is available from 829 to 981 litres with the third row seats folded down and depending on the second row seat’s position.
Inside the practical interior there are up to four 12v power outlets and six USB charging ports with storage areas everywhere from the center console that’s big enough for a two-litre bottle, front and rear door pockets, convenience hooks in the passenger footwell, and a storage shelf for third row passengers. Depending on the specification, the Discovery Sport comes with dual-zone climate control with vents on the B and C-pillars for the rear passengers. Another option is a full panoramic sunroof with a dark tint and a special surface treatment that comes with an electrically retracting blind with a solar reflective coating.
The driver is seated in a raised Sports Command Driving Position in the Discovery Sport. The multi function steering comes standard with shift paddles on all auto models and the instrument panel consists of twin dials with a 5-inch colour TFT screen in between. There’s also a Head Up Display on the windscreen as well. The dashboard features a new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Land Rover InControl™ Technologies that allows access to the owner’s smartphone once connected to the vehicle’s USB port.
Not only does the Discovery Sport is equipped with driver and passenger airbags, knee airbags, and side curtain and thorax airbags inside the cabin, it also comes with a pedestrian airbag located outside at the base of the windscreen. Additionally, the Discovery Sport is decked with driver assistance system such as the Autonomous Emergency Braking System, Blind-Spot Monitor & Closing Vehicle Sensing, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition, Park Assist, Tow Assist and Tow Hitch Assist, Auto wipers and lamps, and Automatic High-Beam Assist.
Underneath the Discovery Sport is a lightweight monocoque with all-new multi-link rear axle that promises to offer “exceptional dynamics, refinement and space efficiency”. Powering the Discovery Sport will be a 2.2-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel with two different states of tune, and a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.
In the TD4, the 2,179 cc turbodiesel produces 148 hp at 3,500 rpm and 400 Nm of torque at 1,750 rpm while in the SD4 it produces 187 hp and 420 Nm of torque. Meanwhile the 1,999 cc turbocharged petrol engine in the Si4 produces 237 hp at 5,800 rpm and 340 Nm of torque at 1,750 rpm. The 9-speed auto is standard in the Si4, but the TD4 and SD4 can also be had with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Acceleration time from 0 to 100 km/h with the auto gearbox is 8.2 seconds in the Si4, 10.3 seconds for the TD4, and 8.9 seconds for the SD4 and the top speed is 200 km/h, 180 km/h, and 189 km/h respectively.
Fuel consumption range from 8.0 – 8.3 l/100 km in the Si4, 5.69 – 6.2 l/100 km in the TD4, and 6.1 – 6.3 l/100 km in the SD4. Another more efficient front-wheel-drive diesel variant will be offered shortly after launch, called the ED4.
Being a Land Rover, you can be assured that the Discovery Sport is capable to venture off road with its 212 mm ground clearance, 21° breakover angle and the ability to climb 45° gradients as well as wade through water to a depth of 600 mm. Apart from the front wheel drive ED4, the Discovery Sport is offered in two different four wheel drive systems; the full-time four-wheel-drive Efficient Driveline, or Active Driveline that is able to switch between two and four-wheel drive. The four-wheel-drive sytem is supported by a host of off-road technologies including the Terrain Response®, Wade Sensing™, Hill Descent Control® (HDC), Gradient Release Control® (GRC), Roll Stability Control (RSC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Electronic Traction Control (ETC), and Engine Drag torque Control (EDC).
Land Rover also claims that the new Discovery Sport will provide an “agile and rewarding handling on the road” with the combination of the electric power-assisted steering system (EPAS) that has been “tuned for excellent driver feedback”, multi-link rear axle, optional Adaptive Dynamics with MagneRide™ dampers, and Torque Vectoring by Braking (TVB) that brakes the outside front wheel in the event of understeer is detected. The Discovery Sport is expected to go on sale in early 2015 and it will be built at Land Rover’s manufacturing plant in Halewood, Liverpool.
In conjunction with the Discovery Sport reveal, Land Rover also launches an out-of-this-world competition. Literally speaking, Land Rover’s Galactic Discovery competition will give the opportunity for anyone (plus three friends) to win a once-in-a-lifetime trip to space and experience zero gravity.
All they have to do is to produce a 30-second video, or a still image, that demonstrates their spirit of adventure, choose three friends to join them on their space adventure and submit it via Land Rover’s website (http://www.landrover.com/gotospace). What’s more, British adventurer and Land Rover ambassador, Bear Grylls, will play a hands-on role in helping the winning group prepare for their voyage beyond the final frontier. The winners will be announced in December 2014, but unfortunately the competition is not available for us Malaysian citizens.