Previewed at the New York Auto Show last April as the Discovery Vision Concept, the production version of the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport has been revealed in conjunction with a literally out-of-this-world promotion that involves the company's global partner, Virgin Galactic. While lacking several of the show car's more avant-garde touches, the newest Land Rover boasts visual cues and technology that will be found in future models across the range. The Discovery supplants the current LR2 -- which ceases production at the end of the 2015 model year and features 5+2 seating, a first for the compact premium SUV segment.
Designed for tomorrow
Expanding on styling themes found on the Vision Concept, the new Discovery Sport adds distinctive flourishes of its own to create a bold presence complemented by a host of wind-cheating/noise-abating aero bits. A laid-back acoustic windshield, wraparound lighting units - including optional Xenon headlamps and LED running lamps - along with a two-bar mesh grille, new blade-like front fender vents, flared wheel arches and a rakish C-pillar treatment help create a tailored but tough look.
The core structure of the new Discovery Sport consists of high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel complemented by weight-saving aluminum alloy in various body panels and suspension elements. The combination yields excellent platform rigidity and passenger protection while improving dynamic balance and lowering the vehicle's center of gravity. Built on a 107.9-inch wheelbase that splits the LR2/LR4 models, the front chassis design of this new Land Rover SUV shares much with the popular Evoque but its rear underpinnings are an all-new multilink setup that improves interior packaging as well as enhances ride and handling.
Inside, the new Discovery Sport melds existing Land Rover design elements with unique accents. All versions feature a bevy of power assists, dual-zone climate control, multi-function steering wheel, navigation system with an 8.0-inch touchscreen and premium audio systems as well as leather upholstery that ranges from seating-only surfaces on the base SE to a full Windsor hide treatment on the range-topping Discovery Sport HSE Luxury. The Discovery Sport's elevated 60/40 split-folding second row bench has 6.3-inches of fore/aft travel, a feature which makes the optional third-row split-folding bench seat a far more viable perch whenever it is called into what LR describes as "occasional use."
Leveraging the Land Rover pedigree
The new Discovery Sport shares the Evoque's powertrain, matching a 240-horse/2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with a ZF close-ratio 9-speed automatic transmission. Operated by a central rotary controller supplemented by steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles, the transmission features adaptive logic and fully integrates with the Haldex intelligent full-time all-wheel drive and Land Rover's multi-mode Terrain Response system. To further optimize the Discovery Sport's go-anywhere capabilities, its full complement of conventional stability/traction technology is bolstered by features like Hill Descent Control, Roll Stability Control, Trailer Stability Assist and Engine Drag Torque Control as well as a new available Autonomous Emergency Braking option that can help prevent or mitigate collisions.
Available in SE, HSE and HSE Luxury trims, pricing for the 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport will start at $40,920. It will offer plenty of personalization potential starting with the descriptively named Black Pack trim package that adds noir accents set off with 19-inch or 20-inch alloy wheels. Other key factory options include a contrast roof panel finished in Santorini Black, full glass panoramic roof, custom luggage, tubular stainless-steel side step and front/rear undershields while dealers will offer items like quick-release headrest-mounted iPad holders and a leather-covered cooler/warmer box for the center stow bin.
To help launch the new Discovery Sport, Land Rover and Virgin Galactic have created the Galactic Discovery Competition. Aspiring astronauts from 29 countries are being invited to produce a photo or a 30-second video that best demonstrates their personal spirit of adventure. Top prize for the winner and three of his/her friends is a sub-orbital flight in Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. For complete details, visit http://landrover.us/space.
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