The ever-expanding world of luxury compact crossovers got a new member Tuesday afternoon, as Land Rover announced its all-new 2015 Discovery Sport.
The tidy SUV will be the first of several vehicles Land Rover will sell under the family-oriented Discovery sub-brand. This strategy is similar to how the automaker currently sells high-end SUVs and crossovers under the Range Rover nameplate.
The all-wheel-drive Discovery Sport will replace the slow-selling LR2 when it goes on sale in early 2015, and will make its North American debut at the 2014 L.A. Auto Show in November. It will come with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and will offer seating for five adults plus two children.
"The launch of the Discovery Sport is a pivotal moment in the 66-year history of Land Rover," said Phil Popham, marketing director for Jaguar/Land Rover. "Not only does it mark the introduction of the first new member of our expanding Discovery family, it also brings the versatility of five-plus-two seating to the compact premium SUV market."
Land Rover's Discovery Sport is one of many all-new models crowding the segment, one of the fastest-growing in the automotive industry. Empty-nesters and younger, first-time luxury buyers alike are flocking to upmarket crossovers for their added practicality in a manageable size.
Brands like Lincoln, Audi, Jaguar, Lexus and Porsche have all taken notice and are bringing new models to market. They'll join models already available from BMW, Mercedes, Acura, Infiniti and Cadillac.
The Discovery Sport will start at $38,920. It comes standard with the same drivetrain as the Range Rover Evoque: a 240-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The 5+2 seating configuration will be optional, as will autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning, automatic parallel parking, an 8-inch touch-screen navigation system, and an in-vehicle Wi-Fi hotspot.
When the Discovery Sport begins selling in March 2015, Land Rover is hoping it will be more popular than the LR2 it replaces. That outdated vehicle sold just 3,315 copies in 2013, thanks to significantly stronger competition from luxury rivals.
The Discovery Sport's debut will be followed by a new Discovery, a larger seven-passenger SUV that is currently sold as the LR4 in the U.S.