Land Rover’s director of programmes, Murray Dietsch, says engineers heeded calls from Freelander owners to provide more space in both areas. This required them to design both a new chassis/body structure from the centre pillars back, and the new multi-link suspension that eliminates the space-sapping suspension towers of the previous system.
Like the existing strut front suspension, the new coil-sprung multi-link rear layout uses forged aluminium knuckles and links to save weight.
As a result of these and many other weight control measures, this new seven-seat SUV has a kerb weight of 1817kg – about the same as the slightly smaller, less spacious Freelander and a cool 800-900kg less than that of the ‘grown-up’ Discovery.
Maximum trailer towing capacity for the Discovery Sport is 2200kg in automatic guise and 2000kg for the manual.
The Sport’s new chassis package includes improved disc brakes all round, a new variable-ratio electric power steering system, the option of an autonomous emergency braking system (it sees obstacles that you don’t) and a new external airbag that aims to reduce the injuries of pedestrians thrown on to the bonnet in an accident.
The Sport also gets an enhanced Terrain Response system that makes the Sport “extremely good” in off-road situations, even compared with its big brothers in the range.
According to Dietsch, the Sport feels nimbler to drive than the Freelander, mostly because of its more sophisticated, more compliant rear suspension. “It rides like a Discovery should,” he says, “with the planted, stable feel the larger model has. But the fact that it’s so much lighter than Discovery 4 means it feels far more agile. But don’t just label it a sportier Discovery; it has a unique character of its own.”
Land Rover Discovery Sport powertrains
From its UK launch, the Discovery Sport will be available with just one engine – the 188bhp 2.2 SD4 diesel also used by Peugeot-Citroën and Ford – and with four-wheel drive only. However, buyers can at least choose between a nine-speed ZF automatic and a six-speed manual gearbox.
The Land Rover Discovery Sport will be sold with the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Ingenium diesel engine from September 2015.
Buyers will be able to choose from a 148bhp version of the power unit with 280lb ft of torque, delivering 57.7mpg and emissions of 129g/km, or a 178bhp, 424lb ft unit, delivering 53.3mpg and 139g/km. They replace the existing diesel power units.
The Ingenium-powered Discovery Sport TD4 150PS will be designated as an E-Capability vehicle, with blue Sport badging highlighting it as the most efficient vehicle in the ranges. It will be sold on 18-inch wheels and low rolling resistance tyres, and be the only car in the range available as a five seater.
All other versions are sold in a 5+2 arrangement. The E-Capability car will be sold with a six-speed manual only, whereas the 180PS models get a choice of a six-speed manual gearbox or nine-speed manual.
Ingenium service intervals are 21,000 miles, as opposed to 16,000 miles for the outgoing models. Prices start from £30,695 or £299 a month.
Land Rover Discovery Sport marketing