The Land Rover Discovery Sport will go on sale in 170 markets around the world, including Australia, from May 2015.
Likewise, the Discovery Sport’s cabin appears more upmarket, with the traditional gearshifter replaced by a rotary dial, leather applied generously across the dashboard, and a new 8.0-inch touchscreen screen elegantly incorporated into the top of the centre stack.
Ensuring all passengers are looked after, the cabin features up to four 12-volt power points and six USB charging ports, dual-zone climate control and air vents for all three seating rows, including an independent control unit for the third-row.
At 4590 millimetres long, the Discovery Sport is 90mm longer than the Freelander it replaces. Its 2741mm wheelbase similarly grows 81mm.
The Discovery Sport is based on a steel monocoque platform based on that of the Evoque. Its body is said to be stronger and lighter than before, incorporating high-strength steel, ultra-high-strength boron, and aluminium, the latter used across the bonnet, front bumpers, roof and tailgate.
Land Rover says the Discovery Sport’s new multi-link rear axle delivers significantly improved agility, on- and off-road composure, and reduces road noise.
The Discovery Sport carries over the three engine options from the Freelander 2, offering two tunes of a 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel and a single 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol unit.
Both diesels produce 420Nm of torque at 1700rpm. As before, the TD4 makes 110kW of power and the gruntier SD4 140kW, and both are equipped with stop-start technology. The Si4 petrol engine continues to produce 177kW and 340Nm.
A six-speed manual transmission continues as standard, while an optional ZF nine-speed automatic replaces the old six-speed auto.
Land Rover Australia has confirmed all three engines and both transmissions will be offered in Australia from launch.
A host of off-road technologies promise to make the Discovery Sport one of the most capable SUVs in its class. The long list of features includes Terrain Response with four settings: General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, and Sand; Wade Sensing, which informs the driver of the water depth with a visual display on the central screen and audible warnings; and a series of electronic control systems spanning hill descent, gradient release, roll stability, stability, traction and engine drag torque functions.
The new model has a 212mm ground clearance, claimed class-leading approach, departure and breakover angles of 25, 31 and 21 degrees respectively, and a 600mm wading depth.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport introduces a suite of new safety features, headlined by a pedestrian airbag at the base of the windscreen similar to that of the Volvo V40, and autonomous emergency braking to help avoid collisions or reduce their severity between 5-80km/h.
Other driver assistance systems include park assist for parallel and perpendicular parking spaces, auto high-beam assist, lane departure warning, trailer stability assist, tow assist and tow hitch assist, blind spot monitoring and closing vehicle sensing.
The new infotainment system allows occupants to drag, swipe and scroll through content at they would on a smartphone, and provides access to the vehicle’s audio, climate, telephone and navigation functions.
Three stereo systems are available: an entry-level six-speaker unit, a 10-speaker system, and a range-topping 17-speaker 825-watt Meridian surround sound system. An advanced infotainment system includes HDD satellite navigation, dual-view functionality, and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Australian pricing and specifications will be announced closer to the Discovery Sport’s launch in Australia in May. The current Freelander 2 is priced between $42,300 and $68,400.