When is a Land Rover not really a Land Rover? When it has the name Discovery on the bonnet.

The British brand – marking its 70th anniversary next year – built its reputation with simple, straightforward, strong vehicles that could literally rove the land.

The Discovery name alone has been around for more than a quarter of a century and the new model maintains its go-anywhere capability, but introduces a level of regal sophistication that delivers Range Rover levels of luxury travel.

Built in Solihull alongside the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, this is a big, three-row, family-friendly seven-seater that adds real desirability and carefully-crafted premium build quality to the model’s well-established versatility.

The attention to detail is evident from the second you climb aboard, thanks to a system that automatically lowers the ride-height on the air suspension by 40mm, allowing you to enter and exit the vehicle more easily. Once aboard, everyone gets a good view as each row of seats is positioned higher than the one in front.

Once seated, there is plenty of technology on tap to make journeys less fractious with loads of storage space, a 10-speaker Meridian sound system, up to nine USB ports, four 12-volt charging points and an in-car 3G Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices.

Even the famous ‘curry hook’ has been upgraded and the new push-operated design sits flush on the side of the transmission tunnel. When released, it tightly secures carrier bag handles to ensure the contents remain upright.

You can always spot a test vehicle that people really enjoy driving from its mileage and the Sd4 HSE test car had racked up almost 10,000 miles in just five months. Hardly surprising, as this is a long-distance cruiser par excellence and one with some additions likely to appeal to business and fleet buyers.

Chief among these attractions is the introduction of the 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine that was fitted to the test vehicle. Delivering 240 horsepower and the prospect of real-world mile-per-gallon consumption in the mid-30s, the aluminium Ingenium engine made in Wolverhampton delivers performance comparable to the outgoing 3.0-litre V6 with lower emissions and lower tax.

Smooth and quiet with immense pulling power, the engine is a key part in making the fifth generation Discovery a superb towing vehicle, with a towing capacity of up to 3,500kg. Added to that is an ingenious system that takes the stress out of reversing by allowing you to guide a trailer, horsebox or caravan into position by using a rotary controller on the central console, without even using the steering wheel.

Once you have set up the system on the 10-inch central touchscreen by entering key trailer details, trajectory lines appear on the screen from cameras in the door mirrors showing the anticipated direction of the trailer. By steering the trailer using the controller and operating the pedals, you can reverse park a trailer easily as the vehicle automatically calculates the necessary steering inputs.

More of the car’s cleverest features centre on the seating arrangements in the back, with the second- and third-row seats able to be electrically folded using controls at the rear, or via the central touchscreen and even remotely with a smartphone app.

All three rows are also available with heated seats – heated and cooled in rows one and two – while massage seats are available for the driver and front passenger.

Another neat innovation is an additional powered section that folds out when the tailgate is opened. Able to support up to 300kg, it is the perfect place to sit for an impromptu picnic or to change out of dirty boots – all under the shelter of the whopping electrically-powered tailgate.

It might be a million miles from Land Rover’s humble roots, but this British-built luxury liner is a touch of pure muddy motoring class.

Auto facts

Model: Land Rover Discovery Sd4 HSE

Price: £60,695 as tested

Insurance group: 38E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 43.5mpg

Top speed: 121mph

Length: 497cm/195.6in

Width: 222cm/87.4in

Luggage capacity: 40.1 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 16.9 gallons/77 litres

CO2 emissions: 189g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 100,000 miles