When we often refer to power
and torque of a vehicle, we generally want to reassure ourselves that the
vehicle can take its occupants through steep inclines and long distances
without losing steam. But what do you say of a vehicle that can tow a few
luxury train carriages? Obviously you are convinced of its brute engine power
The Land Rover Discovery Sport
SUV towed three luxury train carriages weighing more than 100 tonnes along a
railway track in a demonstration of towing capability. The 10km journey through
the Rhine region of northern Switzerland put the compact Discovery Sport’s
pulling power to the ultimate test. Though the Discovery Sport has a certified
maximum towing weight of 2,500kg (2.5 tonnes), it was able to pull 60 times its
own weight, powered by Jaguar Land Rover’s 178 bhp Ingenium diesel engine
providing 430Nm of torque.
In addition, the Discovery
Sport benefitted from Land Rover’s portfolio of towing and traction
technologies such as Terrain Response, Tow Assist, Tow Hitch Assist and All
Terrain Progress Control – a semi-autonomous off-road driving system that
automatically manages engine output and braking, to complete the stunt.
The stunt was designed by Land
Rover engineers to clearly show the strength and capability of the Discovery
Sport, echoing a similar feat performed in 1989 for the launch of its ancestor,
The vehicle’s drivetrain
remained unchanged; the only modification being the fitment of rail wheels by
specialists Aquarius Railroad Technologies, to act as ‘stabilisers’.
Unlike the 1989 Discovery tow,
Discovery Sport completed the impressive pull without the aid of low-range
gears, instead using its 9-speed automatic gearbox and Terrain Response
technology to generate the necessary traction. Land Rover’s All Terrain
Progress Control (ATPC) system was also engaged at the press of a button during
the tow, to maximise traction at a set speed. Acting much like a ‘low-speed
cruise control’, ATPC allows the driver to focus on the road – or in this case
the railway – ahead.
The train-pulling feat was
undertaken on 10km of track at the Museumsbahn Stein am Rhein in Switzerland,
crossing the River Rhine on the dramatic Hemishofen bridge – a historic steel
span measuring 935 feet long and soaring 85 feet above the valley floor.
Land Rover has a history of
rail conversions, from the days of the Series II and IIA Land Rover to the
various Defender models that have been modified to run on rails for
maintenance, and the notable launch of Discovery I in 1989. The latter saw a
converted Discovery towing a series of carriages in Plymouth to demonstrate the
capability of the new 200Tdi diesel engine.
British road-to-rail 4x4
conversion specialists Aquarius Railroad Technologies fitted the rail wheels to
the otherwise standard Discovery Sport. Managing Director James Platt, said:
“For a vehicle of this size to pull a combined weight of more than 100 tonnes
demonstrates real engineering integrity. No modifications were necessary to the
drivetrain whatsoever and in tests the Discovery Sport generated more pull than
our road-rail Defender, which is remarkable.”
Karl Richards, Lead Engineer
for Stability Control Systems at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Towing is in Land
Rover’s DNA, and Discovery Sport is no exception. Over the years, we have
introduced game-changing towing technologies to take the stress out of towing
for our customers. I’ve spent most of my career travelling to the most
punishing parts of the world to test Land Rovers in grueling conditions, yet
this is the most extreme towing test I’ve ever done.”
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