Land Rover has finally unveiled the replacement for the eight-year-old Freelander 2 – the Land Rover Discovery Sport. The first in a new line of Discovery-badged SUVs, it will be offered with seven seats for the first time in a small Land Rover.

The Discovery Sport takes several cues from the recent Discovery Vision concept, including the head- and tail lamp shapes, bulging wheel arches, fender vents and upswept C-pillars blacked out at the top. “Discovery” badging replaces the traditional “Land Rover” script across the bonnet and tailgate.

The inside will be familiar to anyone who’s stepped inside a modern Land Rover, with a straight horizontal dashboard punctuated by a strong vertical centre console, although the design appears plainer than the car’s plusher Range Rover siblings. A new eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system takes centre stage, and buyers can specify up to four 12V power sockets and six USB ports across all three rows of seats.

Land Rover calls the new seating configuration “5+2”, which indicates that the rear-most seats – standard in some markets, optional on others – are only suitable for children or occasional adult use. The 60:40 second row seats can slide and recline individually, however.

The body is made from a blend of ultra-high-strength steel and aluminium, and a new multi-link rear suspension is said to improve both the driving dynamics as well as space behind the second row. Safety has been bolstered with a Volvo V40-aping pedestrian airbag as well as autonomous emergency braking.

As with any Land Rover, the Discovery Sport has been designed to hold its own off the beaten track, with 25-, 31- and 21-degree approach, departure and breakover angles respectively, a wading depth of up to 600 mm and the fitment of the company’s Terrain Response system.

At launch, the car will be offered with Jaguar Land Rover’s staple 240 PS 2.0 litre direct-injected turbo petrol and 190 PS 2.2 litre turbodiesel four-cylinder engines, both featuring stop-start technology, low-friction internal components and regenerative charging.

A “highly efficient” ED4 turbodiesel emitting 114 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre will be offered later in 2015. A choice between a nine-speed automatic and a six-speed manual transmission, as well as two- and four-wheel drive, will be available.

The Land Rover Discovery Sport will be built at the company’s Halewood plant before going on sale in over 170 markets worldwide early next year.