The evolution of the modern Land Rover range continues today with the introduction of the Discovery Sport, unveiled at the 2014 Paris Auto Show. Aimed at delivering Land Rover’s legendary off-road ability in a seven-passenger vehicle that won’t require a second mortgage, the Discovery Sport offers updated design and new equipment compared to the LR2 it replaces.

Starting at just $37,995, the new Land Rover Discovery Sport treads in mainstream waters, but, as you’d expect, can be optioned well up into headier territory as well.

The standard powertrain configuration is a 2.0-liter, 240-horsepower/250-pound-foot turbocharged engine that Range Rover Evoque fans will no doubt find familiar, paired to full-time all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission.

MUST SEE: Unimog-Based Mercedes-Benz Zetros Is One Extreme RV

With that punchy turbo engine and Haldex all-wheel drive system come Land Rover’s brilliant and proven traction and off-road controls, including Terrain Response, which offers settings tailored for General, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud and Ruts, and Sand. The Terrain Response system alters steering, throttle, gearbox, braking, stability control, and four-wheel drive systems for each surface condition to maximize ease of traverse. Add to that 8.3 inches of ground clearance; 13.4 inches of wheel articulation; approach, departure, and breakover angles of 25, 31, and 21 degrees, respectively; and the ability to scale slopes of up to 45 degrees, and you have a seriously impressive off-road machine—with seating for five + two passengers.

Other Land Rover technologies that lend to the Discovery Sport’s off-road credibility include Hill Descent Control; Gradient Release Control (which progressively releases the brakes when starting from a stop on an incline); Roll Stability Control; Engine Drag Torque Control (which helps prevent lock-up under heavy engine braking in slippery conditions); and Dynamic Stability Control and Electronic Traction Control.

But the off-road environment isn’t the Discovery Sport’s only intended playground. Land Rover aims the new Disco at equal capability on-road, with tuning on British backroads as wells as the Nürburgring Nordschleife on the development pedigree.

Aluminum is used throughout the structure and body of the Land Rover Discovery Sport to keep it as light as possible; high-strength boron steel adds rigidity and durability. The hood, front fenders, and tailgate are aluminum; a magnesium crossbeam enhances torsional rigidity further; the crash safety cell and A- and B- pillars are boron steel. Some of the Discovery Sport’s front-end architecture is shared with the Evoque, including the magnesium crossbeam. The Discovery Sport’s front suspension uses steel lower control arms and aluminum knuckles; the rear suspension is a multi-link arrangement with some aluminum elements for reduced weight.

CHECK OUT: Toyota Surprises With Land Cruiser 70 Anniversary Re-Release: Video

Equipment, of course, is also a key element of the Discovery Sport’s package, and whether you’re looking to take home a standard-spec family hauler or option out a personalized luxury cruiser, you’ll find a version that suits your needs. Included in all Discovery Sports: leather-appointed seating; five interior color options; a three-spoke multi-function steering wheel; a 5-inch color TFT display between the main instrument panel gauges; paddle shifters for the automatic transmission; soft-touch rotary controls set into a gloss-black surround; and a cockpit design that echoes the upright, solid themes of the more expensive Range Rover line. Available upgrades include twin-needle stitched leather; configurable mood lighting; an 8-inch touchscreen; and personalization options like a Black Pack that includes 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels plus gloss black grille, door mirror caps, front fender vents, and hood and tailgate lettering; a contrast roof color in Santorini Black or Corris Grey; a full panoramic roof with dark tint and special surface treatment for solar protection; and more. Dealer accessory add-ons include headreast-mounted iPad holders for the second row, a center armrest refrigerator/warmer box; and more.

The standard interior uses a stadium seating design for the middle row, elevating occupants 50 mm for a more open feel; the second-row seats can recline and slide rearward by up to 6.3 inches, too, and up to 39.8 inches of second-row leg room. An optional third row intended for occasional usage (hence the “5+2” billing)  stows when not in use to leave the same cargo area as the two-row model. All of this fits within a 107.9-inch wheelbase, which makes the Discover Sport rather compact for a three-row SUV; the 180.7-inch overall length is likewise small for its interior space.

Land Rover’s InControl Apps system, codeveloped with Bosch SoffTec, adds Apple and Android smartphone interaction abilities, including apps for Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Glympse, Hotelseeker, and other surfaces.

The 2016 Land Rover Discovery Sport will reach U.S. customers in early 2015.


Follow Motor Authority on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.