The promised new Defender, when it comes, had better be good.

We've driven an early prototype of the 2017 Land Rover Discovery - check it out here

Land Rover is working hard to create a halo and market space for their icon’s long-awaited successor – and that includes the softening of the Discovery’s face for this fifth-generation model so there’s minimum internal competition in the ‘toughness’ area.

More and more over 27 years and four previous incarnations, the Discovery came to be the do-it-all 4x4, the one you chose to cross a bog, tow a horse box or use for a  big-mileage expedition on which four or more people had to be comfortable. Even JLR’s own people chose Discoverys as support vehicles for the tough stuff.

For the Discovery 5, the company is continuing to make big claims about versatility and durability. This is the best off-roader they’ve ever made, they insist, and will doubtless have evidence. But the new model doesn’t quite look like it. To my eye, the priority is city style and school runs, as evidenced by the fact that the one version Land Rover is highlighting at launch is the ‘stealth’ edition, with its ‘athletic’ bumpers surely aimed at an urban elite.

Toughness has always been associated with Land Rovers, but with the launch of this one, you could argue, it’s far less evident. It may be time for Land Rover to get out of the suburbs.

Read more:

2017 Land Rover Discovery revealed before Paris

Land Rover design director Gerry McGovern on the new Discovery