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.
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.
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 Old Macpherson struts have been superseded by a clever multi-link design, which is said to improve road manners.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.
The Discovery Sport will be built at Land Rover’s Halewood plant in Merseyside and prices will start from just over £30,000.
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.