The Land Rover Discovery Sport replaces the Freelander 2 and will go head-to-head with the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and other premium mid-sized SUVs, though uniquely boasts the extra versatility of seven seats, offering a 5+2 cabin layout.
As with most markets, the Australian range will initially feature six variants, including three engine tunes that carry over unchanged from the Freelander 2 (Si4 petrol, and TD4 and SD4 diesels) and three trim levels (SE, HSE and HSE Luxury).
The Si4 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol produces 177kW at 5500rpm and 340Nm between 1800-4000rpm. Paired exclusively with a nine-speed automatic transmission, the sole petrol model consumes a claimed 8.2 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle.
The 2.2-litre diesel engine produces 110kW in TD4 spec and 140kW in SD4 guise, both at 3500rpm. Both also make 420Nm from 1700rpm. They come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, while the nine-speed auto is available as an option.
The Si4 comes only in base SE trim, the TD4 in SE and HSE spec, and the SD4 in all three equipment levels.
Standard features of the SE include nine-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels, full-size spare wheel, auto headlights and wipers, power tailgate, rear parking sensors, reverse-view camera, and a smart key with push-button start.
The entry-level Discovery Sport’s cabin gets leather upholstery, eight-way electric front seats, slide and recline 60:40 split second-row seats, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, interior mood lighting, 10-speaker audio system, two 12-volt sockets, five USB ports (one for media, four for charging, including two in the second row), Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen with app functionality and SD card satellite navigation.
Autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and seven airbags (dual front, side, curtain and driver’s knee) headline the standard safety package.
Standard advanced driving aids include Terrain Response with up to five selectable drive modes, hill start assist, hill descent control, and trailer stability control.
The HSE grade adds five-spoke 19-inch alloys, xenon headlights with signature LED daytime running lights, front parking sensors, side mirrors with auto-dipping and memory function, auto high beam assist, ventilated and 10-way electric driver and passenger seats, air quality sensor with auto air recirculation, customisable interior mood lighting, floor mats, and an 11-speaker audio system.
The HSE Luxury grade gains unique nine-spoke 19-inch alloys, premium Windsor leather upholstery, hard-disk satellite navigation, illuminated aluminium tread plates, premium carpet mats, and a 17-speaker Meridian surround sound system with DAB radio.
A long options list includes a range of 17- to 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, contrast roof colour, tyre pressure monitor, panoramic sunroof, Active Driveline technology with torque vectoring (Si4 and SD4 only), wade sensing, climate control front seats and heated rear seats, blind spot monitor with closing vehicle detection and reverse traffic detection, 360-degree surround-view camera system, third-row seats with climate controls and USB charging ports, television, and an rear-seat entertainment system with twin 8.0-inch screens and wireless headphones.
Option packages add features such as laser head-up display, parallel and perpendicular parking and exiting, dual-view touchscreen, and various black exterior design packs.
Land Rover Australia brand manager Tim Krieger said pricing would not be revealed until closer to the local press launch of the Discovery Sport in April, though he hinted that the new model would compete much more closely with its German rivals than the Freelander 2 did.
“When we looked at the segment that this car’s going to play in we see [BMW] X3 and [Audi] Q5 as being the cars that are the dominant players,” Krieger said, “and so we’re benchmarking those vehicles in terms of what they have to offer and what we need to do to be a dominant player in that market.
“We need to be competitive. That doesn’t necessarily mean we need to be under theirs (pricing) but we’ve got to be competitive and I’m confident we will be.”
The Freelander 2, deep in runout mode, is priced from $42,300 to $68,400. The X3 ranges from $60,765 to $77,400, while the Q5 costs from $62,600 to $76,100.
Krieger said he is confident the Discovery Sport won’t get lost in between segments as the Freelander 2 did, insisting that its is “a much better fit for the audience that we’re targeting the car at”.
“This is a car for active people, people who have busy lives but also like the idea of being able to get away for the weekend and pack the car up and put the kids in the back and get away. It’s an extremely versatile vehicle,” Krieger said.
Click the Photos tab for more 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport images.