Land Rover Discovery Advanced Tow Assist
Advanced Tow Assist guides trailers into parking spaces without you touching the wheel Jaguar Land Rover

Reversing a twin-axle horse box between two columns with just inches to spare is no easy task. Especially when you have never reversed any form of trailer before, you are doing so in a foreign country, in front of a bunch of strangers and with a pre-production car that is not even on sale yet.

At least that's the theory. But the reality is that you find us behind wheel of the new Land Rover Discovery and, although that wheel is turning to fit us neatly between the columns, our hands are nowhere near it.

Instead we are using a feature called Advanced Tow Assist, which makes reversing a trailer easier by giving you a rotating dial to control the direction of the trailer.

So instead of turning the wheel left to make the trailer go right, then spend an afternoon backing into the space, you turn a dial to point the trailer exactly where you want it to go. The steering then works accordingly.

This mostly means the steering just turns in the opposite direction, but once you ask the car to straighten up it does this automatically, moving the wheel from left to right until both car and trailer are parked in a perfectly straight line.

Land Rover Discovery Advanced Tow Assist
Point to where you want the trailer to go, and the Discovery's autonomous steering does the rest IBTimes UK

There are two rearward facing cameras which beam a live colour video feed to the car's infotainment screen, giving you a clear view of what's behind you and where the trailer is. Then, a pair of digital lines are added to show where the trailer will go on your current trajectory. Turn the dial left or right to adjust, or centre it and the car will automatically straighten everything up.

Viewed as a rear seat passenger, this system is as first confusing. Ignoring the spinning steering wheel is bad enough, but then staring at the display instead of the mirrors (although you should really check both), and the whole experience seems plain weird. Surely you should just learn to reverse properly?

Land Rover Discovery Advanced Tow Assist
Turn the dial to tell the car where you want the trailer to go IBTimes UK

But step into the driving seat and it begins to make sense. Turning the dial while checking the mirrors and camera feed quickly becomes second nature, as does manoeuvring without as much as a second thought about what the steering wheel is up to.

Admittedly, we had a Land Rover employee helping us out, but we reckon with practice Advanced Tow Assist would make our reversing tidier and more accurate than doing it ourself.

Some setup is required to save you from jack-knifing or parking a horse box in the neighbour's living room. The software asks what type of trailer you have attached (six to choose from) then asks for a measurement from the tow bar. Once this is saved the car will always know what to do, and you can save several different trailers to its memory; useful for if you have a boat, a horse box and a trailer, for example.

The new Discovery will go on sale in 2017, with the first journalist drives (beyond the confines of an LA car park) expected in the first quarter of the year.