What is it?
People will tell you that the new Land Rover Discovery Sport is a replacement for the Freelander, but there’s far more to it than that.
It is certainly another Halewood-built off-roader, and a £30k-£40k rival for the BMW X3 and Volvo XC60, but Land Rover has made it longer, fitted five-plus-two seating to its more spacious cabin, borrowed the styling heavily from the Evoque and redefined it as a member of the emerging Discovery family which stresses its versatility and practicality.
Even Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s design boss and the chief architect of the new model’s sleek new shape agrees. “Others have great design,” he told us. “But Land Rovers need class-leading functionality."
There’s an interesting back-story about the Sport’s arrival. Land Rover’s range of 4x4s has come to be dominated by the Evoque, whose annual sales of 120,000 a year are more than double the originally planned volume.
The Freelander, closely related to the Evoque under the skin, was in danger of being glossed over, not least because its name has little cachet in the US or China. The company also need a more modern-looking model that could fight and beat the X3 and XC60 while continuing to use existing manufacturing processes and share many common components. Enter the Disco Sport.