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Land Rover shows off new Discovery Sport

What's the news?

This is the new Land Rover Discovery Sport. Yes, it really is. Honest, we've got the bit of paper here that says it is. I know - it looks barely any different to the old Discovery Sport, but then that's kinda the point. As with the recently-replaced Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover knows that the Disco Sport sells on its handsome styling, so why change what's not broken?

Underneath, though, there are some pretty significant changes. While the Discovery Sport hasn't changed much on the outside, the structure underneath it is, technically, quite new. It's the same Premium Transverse Architecture (PTA) chassis that you'll find under the Evoque. While that is still closely related to the old D8 platform (which in turn dates back to the Freelander II and, if you go back far enough, the MkII Ford Mondeo) Land Rover has made enough alterations and upgrades for it to count as a new platform. Significantly, it means that the Disco Sport can now take on a certain amount of electric power.

That comes in the shape of the same 48-volt mild-hybrid system that we've seen in the new Evoque. It uses a compact lithium-ion battery and a belt-driven starter/generator which can harvest waste energy from braking and coasting and store it in the battery. That allows the Disco Sport to shut off its engine when braking at speeds under 17km/h, helping to save on fuel and emissions around town.

With four-wheel drive (which can disconnect power to the rear to helpf further save fuel) the MHEV system trims the Disco Sport's CO2 emissions down to 144g/km on the NEDC2 test, and fuel economy improves to 6.9 litres per 100km (40.9mpg) on the WLTP test. The new engine lineup, based on Land Rover's four-cylinder Ingenium turbo petrol and diesel family, is also certified for the new Real World Driving Emissionns test (RDE2) which comes into force next year.

The most frugal model, though, will be the basic front-wheel drive 150hp model, which does without the mild hybrid system. That achieves CO2 emissions of 140g/km and fuel economy of 5.9 litres per 100km (47mpg). As with the Evoque, Land Rover will launch a plug-in hybrid model next year, based around a new three-cylinder petrol engine.

Inside, the Discovery Sport gets a heavily revised and updated cabin with lots of new tech. It doesn't get the Evoque's twin-screen In Control Touch Pro Duo setup (at least not yet), but there is a new, bigger, central touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a new centre console with a simplified control layout. A full digital instrument pack is available as an option, as is a heads-up display. You can also get the new 'smart' rear view mirror which uses a digital screen taking a feed from a rear-facing camera mounted above the boot. The idea is that you can use that to see out the back even when you've got the car loaded to the roof, or are carrying a full compliment of tall rear-seat passengers.

The Discovery Sport also gets Land Rover's 'invisible bonnet' technology, the 'ClearSight Ground View system' which uses a series of downward-facing cameras to allow you to see what's directly ahead and underneath the front of the car, with a graphic showing you how that relates to the front wheel position. Designed as a serious off-roading tool, we can also see this being of huge use in tight parking spaces with high kerbs...

Speaking off off-roading, Land Rover wants the Disco Sport to continue to be a proper 4x4, so it has ground clearance of 212mm and 25-degree approach and 30-degree departure angles, It can also two up to 2,500kg and has a clever advanced towing assistant system to help you with reversing and with keeping the trailer stable at high speeds.

In the cabin, thanks to the tweaks to the platform beneath, Land Rover has found some extra interior space. The boot is bigger, at 1,179-litres (Land Rover always quotes its boot capacity when loaded to the roof), and there's a little more legroom for both rows of rear seats. The fuel tank is also bigger, now up to 67 litres, which is good news for long-haul drivers.

The Discovery Sport has for the past few years been Land Rover's biggest-selling model, although those sales have dipped a bit in the face of tough new competition from Audi, Volvo, and Mercedes. Given its current financial travails, the company will need it to hit those sales heights again, and fast.

"Discovery Sport has been a stunning sales success for Land Rover, leading the way for the past three years and selling almost one hundred thousand models in the UK to date. The new model combines everything the Discovery family of vehicles embodies with a greater focus on modern life - whether through the new electrified 48-volt MHEV or PHEV powertrains, the latest technologies that keep you connected at all times, or the durable materials used throughout the cabin. The result is a compact seven-seat SUV that caters for every family, in every eventuality" said Rawdon Glover, MD of Jaguar Land Rover UK.

The new Discovery Sport is on sale now, and you can expect prices to rise a little compared to the outgoing model, most likely by around €1,000 or so.