Train-pulling Disco’s tech tricks

Train-pulling Disco’s tech tricks

Land Rover’s Discovery Sport has far more pulling power its spec sheet gives it credit for – more than 40 times its certified towing weight.

Rated to haul a solid 2500kg (2.5 tonnes), the ‘Disco’ managed to pull a massive 108 tonnes of train carriages – tipping the scales at a whopping 60 times the SUV’s own weight.

The 10km journey through the Rhine region of northern Switzerland used Jaguar Land Rover’s 132kW Ingenium diesel and a host of very clever semi-autonomous technology.

Towing and traction trickery was the key to getting the 430Nm to the tracks.

The stock systems – terrain response, tow assist, tow hitch assist and all terrain progress control – add up to a semi-autonomous off-road driving system that automatically manages engine output and braking.

lrdstrainpull16061609Simply put, it makes amateur mudpluggers look good – and it also helped the Land Rover engineers get the ambitious stunt to work.

JLR’s stability control systems expert Karl Richards admits it was a tough task – and repeat performance of the Discovery 1’s launch in 1989 – although that Disco had special low-range gears fitted while this time around it had the state-of-the-art nine-speed transmission.

“I’ve spent most of my career travelling to the most punishing parts of the world to test Land Rovers in gruelling conditions, yet this is the most extreme towing test I’ve ever done,” said Richards

lrdstrainpull16061603The only modification performed on the new Discovery was fitting rail wheels for added stability.

British road-to-rail conversion specialist, Aquarius Railroad Technologies, fitted the rail wheels to the otherwise standard Disco.

“For a vehicle of this size to pull a combined weight of 108 tonnes demonstrates real engineering integrity,” said Aquarius managing director James Platt.

“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.”

The showy tow coincided with Discovery Sport being announced winner of the 1,700-1,899kg class at the UK’s prestigious Tow Car Awards, and Land Rover Discovery being named ‘Tow Car of the Decade’.

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, Discovery I.

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