Land Rover sets base Discovery Sport price at $38,920

The Discovery Sport features Land Rover's aluminum architecture and a body shell of high-strength steel and aluminum, a 240-hp engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission.
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The seven-seat Discovery Sport, the first vehicle in a new family of Land Rovers aimed at buyers in the middle of the luxury market, will go on sale in early 2015 with a base price of $38,920, including shipping.

The all-wheel-drive SUV, previewed in April at the New York auto show and formally unveiled today, will replace the LR2 in Land Rover’s global lineup.

It is larger than the LR2 and adds a third row of seating.

Land Rover is creating a family of SUVs under the Discovery nameplate aimed at consumers shopping in the middle of the luxury market.

It’s unclear how many Discovery models are planned under Land Rover's strategy to market three separate lines: Range Rover for upper-end luxury SUV buyers, Discovery for midrange consumers and Defender aimed at entry buyers.

The 2015 Discovery Sport was engineered at Land Rover’s technical center in the United Kingdom and will be assembled at the company’s Halewood plant near Liverpool, United Kingdom.

“The launch of Discovery Sport is a pivotal moment in the 66-year history of Land Rover,” said 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 uses Land Rover’s aluminum architecture and features a body shell of high-strength steel and aluminum, a 240-hp engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, new safety features and a standard eight-inch infotainment screen.

The vehicle’s wheelbase, at 107.9 inches, is 3.2 inches longer than the LR2’s and its overall length, at 180.7 inches, is 3.6 inches longer.

Land Rover is introducing technical innovations on the Discovery Sport including an autonomous emergency braking system.

The Discovery Sport is entering a hot segment in which it will compete against the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Acura RDX and the redesigned Volvo XC90.

This year through July, U.S. sales of the LR2 rose 39 percent from the year-earlier period to 2,393. Last year, LR2 sales rose 7 percent from 2012 to 3,315.

With iconic names like Range Rover, Discovery, and Defender, it's natural for Land Rover to bring those nameplates back across the globe as fully modern vehicles with serious off-road capability and available in a variety of sizes and flavors, said Dave Sullivan, an analyst with AutoPacific.

"The lineup has to expand to offer more choice," said Sullivan. "A one size fits all approach is no longer going to cut it."

Lightweight construction, components

The Discovery Sport body uses high-strength steel, ultrahigh-strength boron steel and lightweight aluminum.

The hood, front fenders, roof and tailgate are aluminum. Its new platform shares the front-end architecture and components with the smaller Ranger Rover Evoque, including a magnesium crossbeam for high torsional rigidity and reduced weight.

Aluminum is used throughout the vehicle including parts of the front and rear suspension to reduce weight and improve vehicle agility.

The Discovery Sport also shares the Evoque’s engine and transmission -- a lightweight and compact turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine and nine-speed automatic transmission. The all-alloy engine puts out 240 hp at 5,500 rpm and 250 pounds-feet of torque starting at 1,750 rpm. An awd transmission is standard.

Improvements inside, out

Land Rover said adding interior room was a priority. The Discovery Sport has what Land Rover calls elevated stadium seating for the middle row, which is two inches higher than the front seats. The middle seats also recline.

Halogen headlamps and daytime running lights are standard. Xenon headlamps and LEDs for the daytime running lights will be optional.

To reduce wind noise, the Discovery Sport has an acoustic laminated windshield.

The vehicle has a standard eight-inch touch-screen infotainment system and an expanded connectivity package.

Driver assistance systems

The Discovery Sport has a host of optional and standard driver assistance systems. Standard features include trailer stability assist, tow assist and tow hitch assist, and headlights and wipers that turn on automatically when it rains.

Optional features include park assist, lane-departure warning and traffic-sign recognition.

The optional autonomous emergency braking system uses stereo cameras to help avoid collisions or minimize their effects. It works at speeds up to 50 mph, first warning the driver and, if the driver fails to respond, then applying the brakes.

Discovery Sport has what Land Rover calls an intelligent awd system. The Terrain Response system sets steering, throttle response, the gearbox, center-coupling, braking and stability control depending on the surface conditions. It has four settings: general, grass/gravel/snow, mud and ruts, and sand.

The Discovery Sport also has hill descent control that maintains a set speed during steep inclines; a gradient release control system that progressively releases the brakes coming off an incline; roll stability control; dynamic stability control to correct oversteering and understeering; and electronic traction control.

David Phillips contributed to this report.

You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at dkurylko@crain.com. -- Follow Diana on Twitter


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