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Land Rover Discovery Sport loses concept styling

Photos of Land Rover's latest new vehicle looks like a big departure from the concept shown in New York last April.

James Cheadle
Land Rover Discovery Sport
Land Rover released photos of a barely disguised Discovery Sport to show off its third row seating. Land Rover

Those who follow new car models from concept to production should be inured to disappointment. Cool styling cues such as oversize wheels and side-view cameras make way for the necessities and costs of a real-world vehicle. Land Rover defied this trend somewhat with the Evoque , a car that preserved much of its concept car styling.

The same can't be said for the Discovery Sport, an all-new model from Land Rover heralded by the Discovery Vision concept at this year's New York auto show. Now, Land Rover has released photos of pre-production versions of the new vehicle sporting a vinyl wrap intended to show off its third-row seating.

But although the Discovery Sport could still include the innovative technologies shown off in the concept, its styling looks downright conventional.

The Discovery Vision concept did a credible job of looking like a sport version of the Land Rover Discovery model, called the LR4 in the US. Although it lacked the safari roof, it echoed that styling with strong C-pillars and a slight rail along the rear portion of the roof. Hiding the A-, B-, and D-pillars in piano black that blended with the windows gave the roof a floating appearance, similar to that of the Evoque.

The Discovery Sport loses these styling elements in favor of a roofline that takes a more conventional sloping line back to a lip spoiler over the SUV's tailgate. Although camouflaged somewhat by the vinyl wrap, the A-pillars run seamlessly into the roof rails, losing the floating style of the Evoque's roof.

The grille remains narrow, but features slats instead of the overlapping hexagons of the concept. The concept's aggressive air intakes turn into what looks like turn signals and parking lights on the Discovery Sport. And the concept's narrow mirrors widen and show and take on a bubble look for production.

Land Rover Discovery Vision concept
Land Rover brought its Discovery Vision concept to the New York auto show in April. Sarah Tew/CNET

For the Discovery Vision, Land Rover noted that its three-row seating could be extensively reconfigured using the touchscreen in the dashboard. The Discovery Sport will offer three seating rows, although the final row will only be two seats taking up the entire cargo area.

Oddly, Land Rover's press materials refer to the Discovery Sport as a "compact SUV", a position the Evoque occupies in the line-up.

The Discovery Sport will likely have real offroading capability, a hallmark of Land Rover. Whether it will show off any of the technologies, such as the transparent bonnet or laser guided Terrain Response System, featured in the concept remains to be seen.

Under the hood will likely be the new Ingenium engine announced earlier this month. This new engine for Land Rover and Jaguar vehicles uses an aluminum block with four cylinders, along with direct injection and turbocharging. No horsepower figures for the Ingenium engine have been released, but a press release points out that it's designed to allow different displacements and is suitable for rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicles.

We should get our first real look at the Land Rover Discovery Sport during either the Paris auto show in October or the Los Angeles auto show in November. Land Rover is currently testing pre-production versions of the new model, which goes on sale next year. Land Rover notes that it will be sold alongside the existing Discovery model. As Discovery is called LR4 in the US, the name of the new vehicle may be different in the US market.