Land Rover unveils Discovery Sport

The Discovery Sport's dynamic design will resonate on an emotional level with consumers, Land Rover says.

LONDON -- Land Rover today unveiled the Discovery Sport, the first vehicle in a new family of Land Rovers aimed at buyers in the middle of the luxury market.

The Discovery Sport will go on sale early next year and will replace the Freelander in Europe and LR2 in the U.S.

The all-wheel-drive Discovery Sport will be available in five- or seven- seat configurations and will have pedestrian air bags, autonomous emergency braking and a range of four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline or diesel engines, Land Rover said in a statement.

The SUV will offer 5+2 seating in a footprint no larger than existing five-seat premium SUVs, Land Rover said in a statement. The "Discovery Sport's versatility is a key differentiator. It is quite simply the most accomplished vehicle in its segment." Phil Popham, Jaguar Land Rover Group marketing director said in the statement.

The Discovery Sport will compete with vehicles such as the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60.

The retiring of the Freelander name is part of Land Rover’s plan to expand its range by dividing its models into three sub-brands. The Discovery 'leisure' range will sit between the luxury Range Rover brand and the utility Defender models.

The Discovery Sport will be sold alongside the larger seven-seat Discovery, and will be joined by more models with the same name in the future. "There will be other vehicles in the Discovery range," a Land Rover spokesperson told Automotive News Europe, without giving details. One model is likely to be a more car-like vehicle based on Jaguar’s new aluminum architecture, according to Bernstein Research analyst Max Warburton.

The entry-level Discovery Sport will be priced at under 30,000 pounds (37,600 euros) in Land Rover's UK home market for a low-emission version with two-wheel drive. The first model launching in January will be the SD4 version with a 190hp, 2.2-liter turbodiesel engine, which will start at 32,395 pounds and is available with the nine-speed automatic transmission used by the Range Rover Evoque.

Initially the Discovery Sport will not offer Jaguar Land Rover’s new Ingenium range of diesel engines slated for next year’s Jaguar XE midsize sedan, instead using Ford-sourced engines from the Evoque.

The Discovery Sport is based on the mainly steel platform currently used by the compact Evoque, Land Rover said. However the rear suspension has been redesigned to allow the extra row of seats in the rear.

The Discovery Sport will be built in the same factory as the Evoque and outgoing Freelander in Halewood near Liverpool, England.

Diana T. Kurylko and Bloomberg contributed to this report

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