The first production Land Rover Discovery Sport model has officially rolled off the line at Land Rover’s factory in Halewood.
Presided over by Land Rover officials, employees celebrated as the first production model made a dramatic entrance, clambering off the line over a makeshift assault course designed to display its off-road credentials.
Along with Land Rover’s executives and employees, other guests at the event included various VIPs, including Sir Richard Branson, who watched on via video link.
His presence represented the close partnership between Land Rover and Virgin Galactic, who have teamed up to offer four free spaces on Virgin Galactic’s first commercial spaceflight.
Virgin Galactic Spaceport
According to Land Rover, the very first Discovery Sport model will not be designated for sale, but will instead be shipped directly to Virgin Galactic’s spaceport in New Mexico.
Stephen Attenborough from Virgin Galactic said that both he and Land Rover are confident that the new Discovery Sport will prove a hit.
He playfully hinted that the company is expecting that the new SUV will prove more popular than some of Virgin’s enterprises, saying: “Anyone remember Virgin Cola? Us neither.”
Executives from Land Rover’s Halewood plant, which also produces the popular Range Rover Evoque, agreed. Plant director Richard Else said that he expected that the new Discovery Sport will bring in around £3.5 billion from company drivers alone.
The new Discovery Sport is one of Land Rover’s most hotly-anticipated models in recent years, having been designed to replace the now-outgoing Freelander model.
Unveiled early in September, the first member of the new Discovery line is being billed as the most capable, versatile and technologically-advanced Land Rover model produced to date.
Features include versatile 5+2 seating, which can seat up to seven people and can tilt and slide to offer more or less luggage space as needs dictate, plus plenty of smart storage space.
The new model also features a new aluminium-intensive monocoque designed to reduce weight, and boasts a dynamic and contoured body design.
On the inside, there’s an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a large panoramic glass roof, plus next-gen safety equipment that includes autonomous emergency braking.
From launch, it’ll come with a 2.2-litre 187bhp diesel with stop-start technology, which can be specified with either a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Prices currently start from £32,395, but Land Rover has announced that a second version will land early next year, with prices estimated to start below £30,000.