IT is immensely reassuring behind the wheel of the off-roading legend that is the Land Rover Discovery.

You might well never venture into terrain any more challenging than a muddy field, a sandy beach or a flooded or icy stretch of road in your ‘Disco’, but you can relax in the knowledge that under your bonnet is a world-beater.

Press a button, turn a dial and the Discovery will be tuned to deal with come-what- may. Alternatively, in normal road conditions just select the auto button and let this extraordinary vehicle do its stuff.

But the Discovery is about so much more than taking on the extremes of weather and surfaces.

With massive pulling power and the capacity to swallow a whole load of luggage or transport up to seven people, it has a very British charm that has endeared it to legions of explorers, families and farmers.

Sitting above the Discovery Sport and Defender and below the Range Rover Sport in the JLR stable, the Discovery is now a digital masterpiece too. It is so user-friendly, utilising an 11.4-inch touchscreen for the infotainment, navigation and connections alongside chunky dials for the air con and even a small dial for volume control. Nice touch, that.

This full-sized, three-row, seven-seat SUV embodies Land Rover’s drive to go above and beyond and is a genuine alternative to the Range Rover.

Its flexibility provides seven adult seats, instantly configurable from your smartphone using world-first remote intelligent seat fold technology.

Featuring powerful and efficient 48V MHEV powertrains, advanced Pivi Pro infotainment and superior comfort and practicality, the Discovery is quite rightly claimed by JLR to be the ultimate, versatile seven-seat premium SUV.

Enhancements include intelligent all-wheel drive that automatically distributes torque to the axle that needs it most and best-in-class 3,500kg towing capacity with advanced tow assist to take the stress out of difficult reversing manoeuvres.

Featuring the latest generation of powerful and efficient six-cylinder Ingenium petrol and diesel engines, this latest Discovery maintains its position as the most capable and family-friendly full-size SUV in the world.

Discovery DNA design cues – including the clamshell bonnet, the stepped roof and the highly visible C-pillar – remain, but there are new signature LED headlights and sweeping front and rear indicators plus a new gloss black panel at the back that incorporates the trademark Discovery script.

Comfort and convenience are further enhanced by the introduction of Land Rover’s Click and Go tablet holders, incorporated into the front seatbacks. The easy-to-use system also includes USB-A charging sockets. Using the onboard 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, rear passengers can be entertained on even the longest journeys.

The huge loadspace doubles as a handy bench. Even with seven seats in use, the boot provides decent luggage space and all occupants have somewhere to charge electronic devices. However, this more curvy Discovery does not have quite the capacity to swallow as much as previous generations.

The Discovery is available in S, SE and HSE trim levels, in sporty R-Dynamic guise or as a practical Commercial model.

There’s a trio of new straight-six Ingenium engines, both petrol and diesel, featuring 48V Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) technology.

The diesel is available in 249HP and 300HP outputs, while the powerful petrol delivers 360HP (265kW).

The D250 and D300, diesel tested here, feature lightweight aluminium construction with a low-friction design and replace the previous SD4 and SDV6 diesels.

The D300 not only provides fast acceleration and a wonderful cruising experience but, coupled with the standard air suspension, provides cosseting ride comfort.

The lowdown:

Land Rover Discovery S D300

Price: from £56,440 (range from £53,090)

Engine: Three-litre diesel mild hybrid electric, producing 300hp

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving all wheels

Performance: 0 to 60mph in 6.5 seconds; top sped 130mph

Economy: 33.9 to 31.6mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 218 to 232g/km combined

Star ratings:

Performance: *****

Economy: ***

Ride/Handling: *****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****