The 10km journey through the Rhine region of northern Switzerland put the 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 317 lb ft of torque. In addition, the Discovery Sport benefited from Land Rover’s 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 tow.
The vehicle’s drivetrain remained unchanged; the only modification being the fitment of rail wheels by specialists Aquarius Railroad Technologies, to act as ‘stabilisers’. The Discovery Sport completed the pull without the aid of a low-range gearbox, instead using its nine-speed automatic gearbox and Terrain Response technology to generate the necessary traction. Land Rover’s All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) system was also engaged 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.
Karl Richards, Lead Engineer for Stability Control Systems at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Towing is in Land Rover’s DNA, and despite Discovery Sport being the smallest model in the range, it has proved its exceptional towing capabilities.
“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.”
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 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 4×4 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.”
Since going on sale in December 2014, the Discovery Sport has retailed over 123,300 vehicles and was Land Rover’s best-seller for May, with 10,075 sold. Discovery Sport UK pricing starts at £31,095 for the 2.0 Litre TD4 Diesel E-Capability (150hp) Manual.