It isn’t often that we’re treated to a new Discovery by Land Rover. The previous generation car was regularly updated throughout its model life, but the basic design was first launched way back in 2004. Now, an all-new fifth-generation car is with us and it’s a revelation. The basic design was previewed by the Discovery Vision concept car at the 2014 New York motor show and the finished car has remained true to the show vehicle. Even the number plate holder is in the same place on the production car, a nod to the Discovery’s heritage, but a nightmare for anyone that is OCD and likes design to be equally proportioned.

Compared to its predecessor, the Discovery has been down the gym, losing 324kg and adopting bulging biceps as a result. The whole result is a lot more curvaceous than the outgoing Tonka toylike styling. This dramatic weight loss has meant that Land Rover could install a four-cylinder engine in the car for the first time, a 237bhp twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre Ingenium unit. This endows the Discovery with acceleration to 62mph in 8.0 seconds, 237bhp of power and a hefty 369lb ft of torque. It’s certainly no weakling, and results in 16g/km less CO2 being emitted and 4.3mpg better fuel economy compared to the 255bhp 3.0-litre V6 unit.

One of the biggest attributes of a Discovery is the ability to carry seven in comfort, and the latest car is able to do that better than ever before. There’s seven adult-sized seats, with good access to the third row. The middle row of seats slide forward and back, allowing you to balance legroom throughout the car. But no matter which chair you’re sat in, there’s generous amounts of headroom, even with a panoramic glass roof. The seats can even be folded down remotely using a smartphone app – handy if you want to rearrange the car in readiness for carrying some flatpack furniture you’ve bought at Ikea. Sat in the driver’s seat, there’s generous leg and headroom, while all-round vision is good thanks to deep windows.

Land Rover continues to blur the lines between itself and Range Rover models, with the interior quality of the Discovery up to a similar standard as you’d expect on the more upmarket editions. Plush feeling surfaces, excellent attention to detail and a built-to-last appearance all add up to truly top-notch cabin ambience. The design will be familiar to Land Rover and Range Rover buyers, with a logical arrangement to the controls and an easy to operate rotary dial that acts as a gear selector. The instruments are mixture of analogue items and a central digital display, while the 10-inch widescreen infotainment system is a joy to use, with ease to navigation menus and a fast interface. A handy ‘secret’ storage compartment is nestled behind the climate controls, as well as two gloveboxes. There’s space in the centre console for four iPads, as well as the ability to chill drinks there. The door pockets are huge, boosting practicality even further.

Our test car was fitted with the Sd4 powerplant, which feels punchier than your prejudices suggest it should have. While it misses out on the outright grunt of the V6, the unit is responsive and delivers plentiful performance in all circumstances. There’s meaty brakes to bring the 2.2-tonne vehicle to a rest, and stop-start technology boosts the green credentials. The eight-speed automatic transmission swaps cogs swiftly, and the four-cylinder unit is quiet and refined, even with the loud pedal buried in the footwell. There’s some wind noise at a motorway gallop, but that’s only noticeable because everything else is so nicely muted. Barrelling along a series of bends, the latest Discovery handles in a way that it has no right to do so. Body control is quite simply a revelation, and once or twice when the corners became tighter than we expected, it just held on, with the driver chickening out long before the Land Rover did. Body lean is impressive, with totally flat cornering no matter how fast you are travelling at. For a car that weighs more than two tonnes, it is impressively light on its wheels. The steering is direct, precise and well-weighted, with a perception of a vehicle that shrinks around you, despite being almost five metres in length and 2.2 metres wide. It’s hugely manoeuvrable in tight spaces, aided by the plethora of sensors and cameras that came fitted to our test car. The ride is calm at a motorway gallop, well damped and comfortable, in addition to being nicelyjudged along rougher, pothole strewn urban surfaces. It quite simply soaks up whatever is thrown at it. And we’ve not even gone into detail about how accomplished the latest Discovery is off-road and how it can wade through deeper water than ever before, and that’s because the latest car will tackle terrain that far exceeds the capability of the driver in most circumstances.

The price for this accomplished newcomer is higher than the outgoing model, with the cheapest S model beginning at £43,495. In reality, you’ll want to opt for HSE specification at least, as that’s where the specification becomes interesting, with all of the must-have kit fitted as standard. Land Rover says that they have already sold more than 25,000 examples globally, with 5,215 orders in the UK. And judging by our first acquaintance with the car, those buyers have definitely made the right decision in choosing one.

Prices £43,495 to £68,295
Bodystyles 5-door SUV
Engines 2.0 (237bhp), 3.0 (255bhp)
Trim levels S, SE, HSE, HSE Luxury, First Edition
Also consider Audi Q7, BMW X5
Model tested HSE 2.0 Sd4 Automatic
Price £56,995 Made in Solihull, UK
Bodystyle 5-door SUV, 7-seats
Engine 1999cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, turbo diesel with stop-start and selective catalyst reduction
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Layout Four-wheel-drive
Maximum power 237bhp @ 4,000rpm
Maximum torque 369lb ft @ 1,500rpm
Top speed 121mph 0-62mph 8.0secs
CO2 emissions 171g/km
Official fuel economy (urban/extra urban/combined) 36.2/48.7/43.5mpg
Fuel tank size 77 litres Range 737 miles
Insurance group 38 BIK rate 36%
Size (length/width without mirrors) 4,970/2,220mm
Boot space (7/5/2 seats) 258/1,137/2,406 litres
Kerb/maximum towing weight 2,184/3,500kg
Euro NCAP crash test rating
Verdict The best 4x4xfar just gets better. It’s pricey mind, and not quite as efficient as its main rivals, but it’s peerless off-road and hugely refined on it.