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The new Land Rover Discovery has made its debut, looking similar to the Discovery Vision Concept that we saw at the 2014 New York Auto Show. Like its predecessors, the fifth-generation Discovery is a full-sized, three-row, seven-seat SUV. It has been a good product for LR, the Disco, with 1.2 million customers over the last 27 years.

Boasting a new look that’s a big departure from past cars (I prefer the traditional look, how about you?), but instantly recognisable as a modern Land Rover in the mould the Range Rover Evoque started, the 2017 Discovery retains the signature stepped roofline, which frees up more headroom third row occupants. It also accommodates the Discovery’s customary stadium seating configuration, which sees each row of seats positioned higher than the one in front, ensuring “every seat is the best seat in the house.”

Land Rover is proud of the fact that this 4,970 mm SUV can take in seven full-sized adults, as opposed to 5+2 seating. The Disco is designed for 95th percentile adults to sit comfortably in its rearmost seats, which incorporate Isofix mounting points (five in total).

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The debutant boasts the world-first Intelligent Seat Fold technology, allowing customers to reconfigure the second- and third-row seats with minimal effort using controls at the rear of the vehicle, the central touchscreen and even remotely via a smartphone app as part of the InControl Touch Pro Services (part of an infotainment system with a 10-inch touchscreen, 14-speaker Meridian audio with subwoofer and WiFi).

This allows owners to rearrange the seats from inside a shop while they queue to pay for large or bulky items, ensuring the vehicle is configured by the time they reach it, for instance (up to 2,406 litres, or up to 1,137 litres behind the second row). Also useful is Auto Access Height, which reduces the ride height by up to 40 mm as passengers prepare to enter or exit the SUV.

The latter works together with the new dual-purpose Powered Inner Tailgate. When raised, the fold-down panel at the leading edge of the load area operates as a practical load restraint, but when lowered the 285 mm overhanging section doubles as a bench for seating or changing muddy footwear for instance, while sheltered by the new one-piece tailgate. This simple device replicates, and enhances the functionality of the horizontally split tailgate fitted to previous Discoveries.

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Another cool feature is Activity Key wristband, which allows customers to enjoy sports without carrying the standard key fob. Holding the waterproof band up to the ‘D’ in the Discovery badge on the tailgate simultaneously locks the vehicle and disables the ordinary key, which can be left safely in the car.

Utility aside, go-anywhere ability is also a Discovery strength. It’s achieved with a combination of off-road geometry and advanced technology. Ground clearance is rated at 283 mm (up 43 mm) while a maximum wading depth of 900 mm (up 200 mm) puts the Disco in a class of its own when tackling waterlogged tracks and flooded roads.

Off-road driving tech includes Land Rover’s multi-mode Terrain Response 2 system that optimises a range of settings, from throttle sensitivity to gear change characteristics, to suit the driving conditions at the turn of a rotary controller.

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When tackling particularly challenging terrain, All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) can be programmed to autonomously maintain a suitable crawl speed chosen by the driver, allowing him to concentrate solely on steering the vehicle. It can also be used from a standstill to help one pull away on slippery surfaces.

On-road performance is enhanced by LR’s lightweight and durable aluminium monocoque architecture, which contributes to a 480 kg weight saving compared to steel ladder construction. The company says that its integral link rear suspension delivers good handling without compromising the superb ride comfort (it’s true) that has defined successive generations of the Discovery. The driver sits high like a king in a Disco, and they’ve even given the throne a name – it’s officially called the Command Driving Position!

A Disco has to be able to tow, and this new one has a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 kg. Advanced Tow Assist is an ingenious development, which allows drivers to complete potentially difficult reversing manoeuvres when towing trailers, caravans and horseboxes with ease. The system takes care of the tricky counter-steering required to position trailers accurately when reversing. The driver just needs to guide the trailer into the desired space using the rotary controller for the Terrain Response 2 system.

The new Discovery is powered by Jaguar Land Rover’s range of four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, all paired with a ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox. They include the twin-turbo Sd4 Ingenium four-cylinder diesel (240 PS/500 Nm), the 258 PS/600 Nm Td6 six-pot diesel and a 340 PS/450 Nm supercharged 3.0 litre V6 (Si6) for petrol fans.

There’s a limited-run First Edition model where 600 examples will be available in the UK with exclusive features including unique etched map detailing on the aluminium trim for the doors and fascia, unique badges, bold colour choices and a long list of standard kit. The optional Dynamic Design Pack includes a contrast roof, sportier front/rear bumpers, luxurious leather upholstery and “sports-inspired” steering wheel and pedals.

The 2017 Land Rover Discovery will go on sale in the UK next spring, priced from £43,495 (RM232,971).