THE new Land Rover Discovery is set to be one of the star cars of 2017 and although it's months before it hits the road we have just got a taste of what's in store.
Described by Jaguar Land Rover boss Dr Ralf Speth as the can do car for the can do world, we tried out the all-new Discovery on the land it likes best - demanding off-road terrain in the wilds of Scotland.
This was prototype vehicle number 148 yet despite its early status appeared fully finished, decked out with leather upholstery, wooden trim and a full set of safety features.
Powered by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel developing 258bhp and mated to an eight speed auto box the powertrain is tried and tested in the current model.
Performance figures are improved and the new Discovery now takes only 7.7 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60. Top speed is up to 130mph and the official fuel return is now 39.2mpg giving emissions of 189g/km - down from 213g/km in the current model.
Other engines, including Land Rover's home grown Ingenium diesel will also be used in the new Discovery pushing emissions down as low as 158g/km - the equivalent of 47.1mpg and the most fuel-efficient Discovery to date.
Use of lightweight body panels - the new car is 80 per cent aluminium - have helped reduce body weight considerably and the car we tried tipped the scales at just 2.2 tonnes.
The effect is to make the fifth generation of Land Rover's stalwart feel much more nimble and agile.
On a gruelling cross country course on the Blair Atholl estate close to the Land Rover Experience Centre near Dunkeld in Perthshire, the new Discovery came into its own.
Jagged rock climbs, deep water crossings and plenty of slippery terrain proved no problem.
That is expected in a Land Rover, particularly one with the Discovery's heavy duty pedigree but the new model makes light work of it.
What is instantly noticeable in the newcomer is how easy it is to drive and control and how smoothly it accomplishes its task.
The latest version of Land Rover's Terrain Response electronic traction system is fitted to the new Discovery and even more effective than before.
It also feels much more accommodating and comfortable when championing territory where few would dare to venture.
Ground clearance is up almost two inches to almost a foot and the Discovery's wading depth has been increased from 2ft 3ins to nearly three feet.
The new Discovery is also fitted with what Land Rover calls All Terrain Progress Control designed to keep it moving under all circumstances - think of it as off-road cruise control.
The prototype model was decked out to high specification HSE Luxury grade and as such would cost from £64,195.
Options such as an electronically deployable tow bar - the new Discovery can pull a class leading 3.5 tonnes - heated seats throughout and luxuries such as an onboard fridge pushed the real price to close on Â£70,000.
That included an extra £1,660 for the Namib orange paint job used on the prototype although the bottom portion of the vehicle still carried camouflage to disguise some of the finer points of the design.
The entry-level version of the new model, powered by the Ingenium diesel, will be priced from £43,495, more than £3,000 cheaper than before.
Technology is a forte of the new Discovery and it has already been dubbed the most connected car on the road with nine USB ports throughout the cabin and four 12-volt sockets.
The new Discovery is also available as a proper seven seater with three rows of seats each of which is forward facing and big enough for adults.
There's onboard Wi-Fi and the HSE Luxury models come with rear seat entertainment as standard which includes additional display screens on the back of the front head restraints.
A suite of Apps is also being introduced including one that can drop the seats by remote control increasing cargo capacity from an already huge 1,137 litres to van-like dimensions of 2,406 litres.
Even with all seats in use there is a supermini's worth of boot space available behind the tailgate which itself is now a one piece affair with a slide-out ledge which can double as a seat as well as balancing loads before stowing.
Our drive was off road only although on the smoother sections the new Discovery demonstrated good composure, feeling much more compliant and balanced than the current version.
The Discovery may look classier than before and come with a much more upmarket interior but it has lost none of its zest for the great outdoors. The main difference is that it adds a stamp of luxury to its ability to travel the world.
A slimmer steering wheel, high definition graphics in the instrument panel and repositioned Terrain Response buttons on the centre console make the driver feel much more at home.
The display screen is now a wide view affair and the instrumentation lay out has been cleaned up although still very practical and easy to use.
On the passenger front there is more cabin space throughout and the likes of an 825 Watt, 14 speaker Meridian sound system to be enjoyed.
Longer than the last generation Discovery by almost six inches but slightly narrower and lower, the new model has a sporty air but classical features such as the stepped roofline have been retained.
On first impressions the newcomer remains nigh on the ultimate family vehicle, well poised to carry on the Discovery legend into a fifth decade.