The outgoing Discovery’s distinguishing features – its unusual unified platform, its height, its air suspension and, most definitely, its weight – all contributed to an idiosyncratic and terrifically appealing driving experience.
That experience, so prized by its owners, hasn’t just informed the tuning of the new car; it has also served as the blueprint from which Land Rover has endeavoured to barely stray, excepting the ways in which it has improved.
The result, then, is less an all-new car and more a considerate and thoughtfully resolved reboot – slightly leaner, lighter of foot and weightier in sophistication.
It hardly hurts that many of the Discovery hallmarks remain safely in place: the hugely elevated ride height, the isolation of air springs and the fact that there’s still well over two tonnes to tote about.
But that scarcely diminishes the job done by Gaydon’s engineers, not least in the elemental differences rendered between it and the Range Rover Sport.
Both display significant rapport with their respective bulk, yet where the Sport hunkers down into a big-shouldered poise that approaches real keenness, the Discovery leans itself away from the effort, rolling congenially with gravity and the severity of the corner you’re tackling.
By modern standards, the steering is heavy, yet there’s an oily precision to its electric assistance that leaves you in no doubt about the car’s placement or its preferred rate of knots.
Superior stiffness and uprated body control allow it to be driven quicker than before, although you’ll hardly bother, because the Discovery is still ultimately about sitting back and soaking up the scenery rather than pummelling brusquely through it.
This crucial facet is evidenced by a ride quality that doesn’t straighten out every crinkle like a limousine but instead ruminates on its complexion like a high court judge, authoritatively dismissing anything it deems unduly consequential to the occupants above.
Agile, car-like and witlessly adhesive the Discovery is plainly not. Yet its usability, indomitability and charisma are unequivocal.
Like its predecessor – and quite unlike anything else – it feels built to see every far corner of the world even as it forms a stately and impermeable barrier against it.
Through its stability control systems, the Discovery limits itself to a fairly sensible pace on the Alpine Hill Route. The car’s challenges here are not just that it is tall and heavy, but also that it has hybrid road/off-road tyres, whereas rivals use less compromised rubber.
However, the chassis electronics include good understeer control and you very quickly identify how much speed the car can securely carry through corners and simply drive to that pace, which would be far from restrictive for anyone on the road. Body control, although better than it used to be, remains decidedly loose when push comes to shove.
You can’t totally disengage the car’s stability control, but you can ramp down its sensitivity if you want. There is little to be gained from doing so, though. The car’s at-the-limit handling is stable at all times, but driving it hard on the road plainly isn’t what it’s engineered for.