LAND Rover has unveiled the seven-seat Discovery Sport that will take on the likes of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and even Nissan X-Trail.
Shown for the first time in public at the 2014 Paris Motor Show, the Discovery Sport is not a replacement for the larger current Discovery, which is due to be replaced, nor even the Freelander – despite Freelander production coming to an end early next year.
This is the Land Rover that stylish families are supposed to buy.
The new Disco Sport sits on the Evoque platform and is powered by Jaguar Land Rover's all-new "Ingenium" four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines, driving through the nine-speed ZF automatic transmission that appeared on the Evoque earlier this year.
Key features include seven seats, a full-size spare and loads of luggage space.
It's also the second car, after the Volvo V40 hatch, to feature a pedestrian airbag that reduces head injuries.
While the car’s styling has it looking like a more modest relative of the latest generation of Range Rovers, design boss Gerry McGovern denies it is derivative.
"We need to make our designs not generic, and certainly not retrospective,” he said. “They need to become more universally appealing."
The clean, crisp lines include a clamshell bonnet (made of aluminium), a floating roof, signature C-pillar graphic and 'compass' tail-lights.
"This particular Discovery is not a replacement for the bigger Discovery; when that comes out, you may say, ‘I can see Disco far more in that’." McGovern said.
It's the packaging of the new Sport that's most impressive.
In the second row seats, there's 100mm of legroom – almost as much as Range Rover's – and with the third-row of seats folded, the load area is also as long as the bigger, more luxurious models, even though the Discovery Sport is only 4.6 metres long.
The space has been created with clever engineering (headed up by Australian Murray Dietsch), including a compact integral-link rear suspension and the positioning of a full-size spare under the boot.
Technical advances include electric power steering, which enables features such as Advanced Emergency Braking (AEB), while a new more responsive 8.0-inch touchscreen, shared with the new Jaguar XE sedan, can be used for a 'Tow Assist' feature.
There's also the full suite of Terrain modes that are mandatory for the Land Rover brand.
Connectivity includes the ability to pair two mobile phones simultaneously, one for music streaming and one to take calls, and for mobile apps to be used through the display.
There will be three engines offered at launch in Europe: the 177kW 2.0-litre Si4 with nine-speed automatic, a 110kW 2.2-litre TD4 and a 140kW 2.2-litre SD4, mated to either a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic.
A more efficient Ingenium diesel capable of 119g/km will arrive in an ED4 model later in 2015
The Land Rover Discovery Sport will go on sale in Australia in May 2015.