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2017 Land Rover Discovery Advanced Tow Assist explained | video

2017 Land Rover Discovery Advanced Tow Assist

Putting a hook on a fishing line, removing said hook from a flopping fish, kicking a footy, skimming stones, reverse parking, making fire - all of these are what you might call man skills; things a guy simply must know how to do to hold his head up in blokey company.

What sets some men apart, though, is the almost mystical ability to reverse a trailer without knocking down the nearest fence or garage.

No doubt plenty of women can reverse a trailer as well, but those who can’t needn’t fear being belittled by their mates who can.

Personally, I’ve always found it to be a dark art, a task that baffles the brain by asking you to turn the wheel the opposite direction to which you want the cumbersome object behind you to go. It’s like attempting to ride a bicycle backwards, with your hands on the pedals and feet in the air.

Finally, however, the clever engineers at Land Rover have come up with a way of saving the blushes of bumbling backer-uppers like me, a system called Advanced Tow Assist.

We were invited to try out this system in a distressingly public car park, not from the LA Auto Show.

Worse still, I was asked to go first, while two quietly confident colleagues sat in the car with me.

I was confronted by a new Land Rover Discovery with a trailer carrying a boat not much smaller than the Queen Mary and told I’d have to reverse it through a chicane and down a ramp. After pointing out that I was probably more likely to be able to park it on Mars, I was assured that Advanced Tow Assist was created specifically for idiots like me.

Using the 10-inch touch screen, I was invited to enter the details of my trailer, including how many axles it had and how many inches long it was (you can store more than one in the computer’s memory, in case you own a boat, a horse and a caravan). The system cares not how heavy your boat is, but the Discovery is rated to tow up to 3500kg.

Then, using the nifty pop-up Terrain Response 2 controller and the Discovery’s cameras - one under each wing mirror - I simply pointed the trailer where I wanted it to go, using the digital lines on the screen. (I noticed that the Real Men who did it after me insisted on using their mirrors rather than the display.)

Take your hands off the wheel, ride the brake with great caution to make sure you’re not going too fast and, magically, the giant object behind you performs its complex reversing ballet.

You need to stop every now and then, to check your mirrors and readjust the lines to make sure you’re on target, but basically it’s like playing a very slow, slightly dull video game.

With this Tow Assist, even an idiot can achieve the seemingly impossible, although I must admit that watching the steering wheel twitching left and right in erratic fashion was no less impressive than watching my dad do it.

What’s really going to thrill those people who shell out the extra for this unsurprisingly optional feature (no proper four-wheel driver worth his salt would want such a tool) is that they can turn up at the local boat ramp, rest their hands on the wheel and nonchalantly nail the procedure first time, every time, impressing the hell out of every man watching.

Advanced Tow Assist will set you back $830, but to get it you have to also shell out $3200 for the Capability Pack, which includes and active rear diff, Terrain Response 2 and All Terrain Progress Control (which is like a super-slow cruise control for off-roading, and makes the whole idea of crawling along a rocky, sandy creek bed seem even more pointless). Prices for a Disco without any options - which surely no one will buy - start at $53,300, but you can’t get your hands on one until July 2017 in Australia.

If you really want to abandon all vestiges of manliness, the new Discovery, which can be purchased in a seven-seat variant that will actually fit fully grown human beings in the third row, comes with Park Assist, to reverse park it for you.

Have you mastered the art of trailer reversing without a new Discovery? Tell us about your skills in the comments below.

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