Land Rover has taken the wraps off its 2015 Discovery Sport, a compact version of the popular "Disco" that is aimed at the family market. The premium compact SUV features a shorter wheelbase combined with a seven-seat capacity and standard all-wheel drive and takes a few design cues from the Vision concept in an attempt to shed it’s country image for something with a bit more urban cred.

With a 107.9 in (2,741 mm) wheelbase and an optional parking assist package, the Discovery Sport takes the "Chelsea tractor" moniker to heart with the ability to park in "compacts only" spaces, but its 3,844.9 lb (1744 kg) heft means it’s still no lightweight.

Like the Vision, the Discovery Sport forgoes the original Disco profile for a more generic SUV shape mixed with a lightly rakish profile, a sleeker front and hard through lines. The clamshell hood blends nicely into the two-bar grille with hexagonal mesh, and the halogen headlamps have a more workmanlike feel than the narrow eyes on the Vision.

The Sport also boasts an acoustic laminated windshield and aerodynamics designed to reduce cabin noise and carry road muck away from the squat, muscular body. In addition, there are functional skid plates and the wheels are set wide at the corners for a lower center of gravity.

The Discovery Sport’s body is made of high-strength steel, ultra high-strength boron steel and lightweight aluminum, while the bonnet, front wings, full-panoramic roof, and tailgate are aluminum. The vehicle gets high torsional rigidity and reduced weight from a magnesium crossbeam and there are long-travel suspension mounts to the isolated subframes for extreme stiffness. Designed for 45-degree climb, the front bumper’s lower trim can also be removed for high angles.

Under the bonnet is the all-alloy, advanced low-inertia turbocharged, direct injection, spark ignition, dual independent variable valve timing, four-cylinder 2.0-liter petrol engine that does a respectable 240 bhp (176 kW) and 251 lb-ft (340 nm) of torque. The power is directed through a ZF 9HP48 nine-speed flappy paddle gearbox with closely-spaced gear ratios that Land Rover says gives a very low first gear and powerful mid-range acceleration. Put this together, and you get 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 124 mph (200 km/h).

The Discovery Sport has coil spring and strut assembly front suspension with hydraulic rebound stops, steel lower control arms and aluminum suspension knuckles. A multi-link rear suspension features aluminum components for reduced weight, and a lower control arm and rear suspension knuckle with thin-walled hollow aluminum castings.

Along with the electric assist steering, the vehicle has Land Rover’s Terrain Response and Standard Trailer Stability Assist, along with Standard Tow Assist and Tow Hitch Assist that uses a camera to aid in hitching trailers and while reversing.

Up front, there are 12.8-inch (325-mm) vented brakes and 11.8-inch (300 mm) rear disc brakes. In addition there’s the Emergency Brake Assist system that automatically puts more brake pressure on in emergencies and a Corner Brake Control system for greater stability while cornering.

The interior is dominated by the raised, high-visibility driver's seat and the 5+2 seating configuration. In the back, there’s 60/40 split-seatback, elevated seating and a recline feature. In front, the three-spoke, multi-function steering wheel sits in front of the two analog dials set in deep cylindrical housing to keep off the glare and a 5-in TFT display that displays out fuel levels, gear position, coolant temperature, and Terrain Response modes.

The Discover Sport also boasts an 8-in touchscreen infotainment system with a voice-controlled satnav system boasting 3D city models and landmarks, 2D maps, and 3D views of upcoming junctions. WiFi hotspot connectivity is also included, along with Bluetooth that supports connection of two smartphones to make and receive calls hands-free using multi-function steering wheel controls. In addition, there’s configurable mood lighting, up to four 12 V power points, and six USB charging sockets.

"The launch of Discovery Sport is a pivotal moment in the 66-year history of Land Rover," says Phil Popham, Jaguar Land Rover Group Marketing Director. "Not only does it mark the introduction of the first new member of our expanding Discovery family, it also brings the versatility of 5+2 seating to the compact premium SUV market."

The Discovery Sport goes on sale early next year with a starting price of US$37,995.

Source: Land Rover

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