It’s almost hard to believe that the Freelander is nearly 20 years old now. In place of the ageing SUV and part of the expanding Land Rover family is the new Discovery Sport, which will then be followed by the new and bigger Discovery sometime next year. The Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60 contender recently made a quick appearance at a special media preview at Land Rover Off-Road Experience in Sepang.
At first glance, the Discovery Sport bears striking resemblance to the Range Rover Evoque, a model that’s been hugely popular since it was introduced here. However, the Discovery Sport seats seven and has a far better off-road performance than the Freelander and Evoque. As with all its siblings, the Discovery Sport comes with Land Rover’s full suite of off-road technologies, such as differential lock, Terrain Response, 4×4 info display and is air sprung.
This SUV boasts a class-leading wading depth of 600mm, and engine choices will either be the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol (237 hp/340 Nm) or a 2.2-litre turbodiesel (148 hp/400 Nm or 187 hp/420 Nm). Transmission choice is the sole 9-speed automatic, although a six-speed manual is available in other markets. In the months to come, the Discovery Sport will be fitted with Jaguar Land Rover’s new range of Ingenium four-cylinder engines, but it’s unclear as yet if the Malaysian-bound model will receive the new engines.
The Discovery Sport sits 16mm lower than the Freelander and its wheelbase has been stretched by 81mm to 2,741mm. This translate to growth in cabin space – particularly for rear passengers, with the second row seats having a 160mm slide and reclining feature making for easy egress and regress. Boot space is also larger now, and measures from 829 to 981 litres with the third row seats folded down.
Other standard interior features include a multifunction leather wrapped steering wheel, an 8-inch touchscreen display panel with Land Rover InControl™ Technologies, dual-zone auto climate control with air vents built into the B- and C-pillars and a large panoramic sunroof. Parking brake is electric here, and the terrain selector knob pops up when the engine is fired (via push-start button).
Because the Discovery Sport is meant to be a more leisurely-type SUV, Land Rover claims that it will provide an agile and rewarding handling on the road thanks to a refined Electronically Assisted Power Steering, multi-link suspended rear axle, optional Adaptive Dynamics with MagneRide™ dampers, and Torque Vectoring by Braking (TVB) to counter understeer.
No word on the pricing has been said as yet, but it is bound to arrive within the next four months.