Last year the Discovery was a clear winner in this class. In 2008, some very tough competition ran the Land Rover close, but it has held on to the heavyweight class for a second year.
Other cars may be quicker or corner better if pushed really hard, but they can’t match the Discovery’s broad blend of talents. In particular, the cabin is exceptionally spacious and versatile. Other 4x4s may have seven seats, but in the Land Rover, there’s enough space to use them.
There’s plenty of luggage room for a family holiday, too. Every item of luggage from our test load went into the boot. In fact, the Discovery barely dropped a point in our practicality tests. There’s a proper spare wheel, high-quality towing electrics, a high noseweight and a well-written manual.
Even on the longest journey, seven passengers can be comfortable, thanks to the pillowy air suspension. For a 4×4, there’s little wind and road noise, and the engine stays in the background unless really pushed.
While it can’t match the iron-fisted punch of the Audi Q7 or Range Rover Sport, the 2.7-litre diesel is strong enough to push the Discovery from 30-60mph in 18.1 seconds. Once up to the legal limit, it will happily hold this pace all day. The brakes are strong, too, pulling up more than four tonnes of car and caravan in just over 11 metres.
The lane-change test was the only obvious chink in the Discovery’s armour. The steering felt slow-witted and there was lots of body roll as the Land Rover was hustled between the cones.