Land Rover stopped people in their tracks in June this year as a Discovery Sport SUV towed three luxury train carriages weighing 108 tonnes for 10 kms along a railway track in Switzerland.
Though the Discovery Sport has a certified maximum towing weight of 2,500kg it was able to pull 60 times its own weight, thanks in part to Jaguar Land Rover’s new 132kW Ingenium diesel engine providing 430Nm of torque and Land Rover’s portfolio of towing and traction technologies such as Terrain Response, Tow Assist, Tow Hitch Assist and All Terrain Progress Control.
In use these become a semi-autonomous off-road (or on-rail in this case) driving system that automatically manages engine output and braking.
The feat coincided with the Discovery Sport being announced winner of the 1,700-1,899kg class at the Tow Car Awards in the UK, with the Land Rover Discovery named ‘Tow Car of the Decade’.
The stunt echoes a similar one performed in 1989 for the launch of the original Discovery model.
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 nine-speed automatic gearbox and Terrain Response technology to generate the necessary traction.
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.
You can see the Discovery Sport towing a train across the Hemishofen bridge at: https://youtu.be/l8rQEQAeET8