The soon-to-launch Land Rover Discovery Sport will be the volume driver for the British brand this year, with the company already securing almost 500 pre-orders for the all-new model.
So far 92 per cent of pre-orders have been for the diesel variants, with more than 40 per cent optioning up the three-row, seven-seat configuration.
Speaking with CarAdvice at the local launch of the new Discovery Sport in Canberra this week, Jaguar Land Rover Australia’s newly appointed managing director, Matt Wiesner, said the Discovery Sport would be a solid contender against its German rivals.
“Freelander  was a very good, honest interpretation of the compact SUV for us, [but] the Discovery Sport takes us into a whole new space where premium compact SUVs have been dominated by our German friends and finally we’ve got the right offering,” Wiesner said.
According to Wiesner, the Disco Sport’s design and 5+2 seating option will give it an edge over its competitors.
The opportunity for the Discovery Sport is in being the only seven-seater in the premium medium SUV segment, but it will also be popular in five-seat configuration and conquest sales from some of the similarly priced Asian manufactures, the company claims.
“Our core competitor set for the Discovery Sport will be the [Audi] Q5, [BMW] X3, Volvo XC60… but we’ve certainly discussed internally that given that Land Rover is a strong aspirational SUV brand, if you look at where the Japanese and Koreans are creeping up into that space, the Discovery Sport role is far greater than just targeting the Europeans.
"We have a great opportunity to start to draw others from some of the Asian brands.”
Interestingly, the upcoming front-wheel-drive version of the Discovery Sport, which will be offered in manual only, is an unlikely starter for Australia.
“As far as we are concerned any Land Rover has got to be a four-wheel drive."
Sales data for the 2WD Range Rover Evoque rates at less than one per cent of sales, which has relegated the model to special order-only status.
The relationship between Evoque and Discovery Sport is evident, with the duo sharing the same platform, raising the question of sales cannibalisation.
“When you look at what we are hoping to do between both products through the year, the amount of customer interest we are going to create in the compact SUV segment for Land Rover full stop between Evoque and Discovery Sport will be significant.”
Nonetheless, Wiesner admits that it’s almost guaranteed that some customers will walk in seeking an Evoque and end up with a Discovery Sport (and vice versa), but that the Discovery Sport will do a "hell of a lot" more sales than the outgoing Freelander 2.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport goes on sale in May.