5. LAND ROVER DISCOVERY
Priced from R947,400
Imagine if explorer Kingsley Holgate sculpted his beard and adopted the sweet-smelling trappings of a metrosexual lifestyle. One thinks of such a transformation when considering the latest Land Rover Discovery, which has taken on a sophisticated, city-slicker persona, right down to its more streamlined design template.
After driving it at launch, we were left a tad ambivalent. Previously, the Discovery was clear in its role. This one appears to ape certain elements of its Range Rover siblings. Not a bad thing, if budget limitations prevent you from buying into the high-end sub-brand.
Unsurprisingly, this is the product you'd feel best in if serious off-roading was on the cards. Seven seats were standard previously, but now you'd have to specify them as an option.
It is considerably lighter, having shaved off 480kg thanks to its aluminium-intensive monocoque body construction. The vehicle treads with more poise and is less cumbersome to manoeuvre.
On test we had the 3.0 TDV6 (190kW and 600Nm), which is still the one to have over the thirstier, supercharged petrol unit.
Ardent Discovery fans might cling to the view that it was hip to be square in the boxy, authentically-rugged predecessor models. The new car has evolved to pander to a wider audience. We just wish they forewent that asymmetrical tailgate, a poorly-executed nod to an old design cue.
• If you're after a sport-utility vehicle that emphasises the "sport" bit, the BMW X5 will do nicely.
• The off-roading champion is undoubtedly the Land Rover Discovery.
• Audi's Q7 offers peerless build quality, refinement and some might like its unassuming persona.
• The Volvo wows with its sumptuous interior and standard semi-autonomous driving elements.
• But, it's a struggle to identify truly impressive merits in the GLE-Class. Ok, it's got the Mercedes-Benz badge.