The Freelander badge is set to be killed off as the Land Rover Discovery becomes a family of vehicles mirroring the Range Rover line-up.
Land Rover teased a new Discovery model at the 2014 Geneva motor show under the banner ‘The new age of Discovery’ with an outline graphic of a model hinting at a Freelander replacement that would be based on the Range Rover Evoque.
Land Rover’s teaser image shows a model that looks more Evoque in size than the traditionally large, seven-seater Discovery – though features the Discovery’s trademark stepped roof.
Rumours of a name for the model include Land Rover Discovery Sport, and Land Rover will use April’s New York motor show to unveil a concept vehicle pointing to the new direction for the Discovery.
Jaguar Land Rover marketing director Phil Popham said the time was now right for the company to focus on the Discovery brand, while he wouldn’t confirm the future of the Freelander nameplate that’s known as LR2 in the US.
“We’ve focused on Range Rover over the last three years with Range Rover and Range Rover Sport replacements and introducing Evoque,” Popham told CarAdvice.
“All Land Rovers have capability, premium-ness and versatility and you dial up one or the other [depending on range]. Range Rover is definitely the luxury marque of Land Rover so we dial up the premium. Discovery is all about versatility … the next one will be even more versatile and we think we can take that concept into different vehicles so there will be a family of Discos in the future.
“By versatility I mean clever use of space, configuration of seats, multiple duty cycles … and during the next few months we’ll explain more about [the Discovery strategy].”
When asked if the Freelander name would survive, Popham’s answer hinted strongly at its demise.
“Freelander’s still a volume product – it’s not the volume product because Evoque has overtaken it, but it’s still a hugely important product for us. But we’ll talk more on that in the near future.”
CarAdvice spies have previously caught the ‘baby Disco’ during testing (above), and it is expected that all models in the next-generation Land Rover Discovery range will share aluminium construction with the premium Range Rover models, a move that will see the new cars shed hundreds of kilograms.
The new Discovery will retain its seven-seat layout while the Discovery Sport (if that is what it is to be known as) would be a five-seater – the inverse of the brand’s luxury models: the Range Rover is available with five seats and the Range Rover Sport can be optioned with seven.
The seven-seater Discovery could be stretched to create a long-wheelbase version for markets such as China, as with the LWB Range Rover, though Land Rover has also previously expressed interest in looking at a city-sized SUV.
Once the new Land Rover Discovery models become established, we can expect the company to confirm its plans for the next-generation Defender that will become its third pillar of family models – focusing on utility.