Land Rover ditches Freelander for Discovery Sport

Land Rover has officially revealed its new Discovery Sport off-roader that will consign the ageing Freelander to the history books.

Designed as a mud-loving, family-friendly cousin to the Range Rover Sport, it will have seven seats and will be considerably roomier than the Freelander it replaces. Tardis-like trickery seems to have been at play here as its only 19cm longer than the Freelander a little bit narrower.

Lookswise, the new model is part Evoque, part Range Rover Sport, with the forward-sloping C-pillar the only obvious nod to its mud-plugging big brother.

See also: Range Rover Sport review

Its construction is similar to that of the Evoque, too. All the bits that take the strain are machined out of toughened steel, with the non-structural parts such as the bonnet and tailgate stamped out of lightweight aluminium.

discovery sport interior

When it goes on sale in January 2015 there will be just one engine on offer – a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel with 187bhp on tap. More frugal and cheaper eD4 versions will come out later in the year, but these will only be fitted on two-wheel-drive models.

discovery sport exterior

In the transmission department there will be the option of a nine-speed automatic or a six-speed manual, both of which will drive a Haldex four-wheel-drive system. It will also have the usual Land Rover electronic trickery to preserve the pride of amateurish off-roaders.

On paper its off-road ability looks markedly better than the Evoque, with a 600mm wading depth as well as generous approach and departure angles. We are yet to find a figure for towing capacity, though. The rear suspension has also had some attention. Old Macpherson struts have been superseded by a clever multi-link design, which is said to improve road manners. The upgrade has also freed up a few precious inches for the rear seats to fold into.

discovery sport interior 2

The Discovery Sport will be built at Land Rover’s Halewood plant in Merseyside and prices will start from just over £30,000.

discovery sport rear

For fans of the old soft-roader, the shake-up does mean they have got a decision to make – settle for the softer Evoque or dig a bit deeper and upgrade to the Discovery Sport.

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