By Steve & Tamami Laser
We’ve seen some pretty creative towing demonstrations in our time, yet this one stopped us in our tracks. Land Rover put its Euro Discovery Sport SUV to the ultimate towing test by pulling three train cars weighing more than 100 tons along a railway track in Switzerland.
That’s about sixty times the weight of the SUV, or equivalent to the heft of a Boeing-757 airplane. The Discovery Sport was a standard Euro vehicle fitted with rail guidance wheels to help keep it on track. The dramatic test of pulling power was performed on a high bridge demonstrating the vehicle’s towing capacity, semi-autonomous driving technology and Ingenium diesel engine.
Watch the Land Rover Discover Sport conduct an extreme towing test by pulling three train cars along a scenic track in Switzerland. (video: Land Rover)
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 says Discovery Sport negotiated the track without any modifications to its axles, engine or drivetrain. The additional rail wheels were engineered and fitted by vehicle conversion specialist Aquarius Railroad Technologies from Ripon, UK.
Though the Euro Discovery Sport has a certified maximum towing weight of 2,500kg (2.5 tons), it was able to pass this amazing test thanks to Jaguar Land Rover’s 2.0-liter Ingenium diesel engine that puts out 180PS and a stout 430Nm of torque.
The Discovery Sport also benefitted 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.
“Towing is in Land Rover’s DNA, and Discovery Sport is no exception,” said Karl Richards, Lead Engineer for Stability Control Systems at Jaguar Land Rover. “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.”
Unlike the 1989 Discovery tow, Land Rover says 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.
“For a vehicle of this size to pull a combined weight of more than 100 tons demonstrates real engineering integrity,” said James Platt, managing director of Aquarius. “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.”
Platt founded Aquarius in 1999 after he identified a gap in the UK rail infrastructure market for Land Rover road-to-rail vehicles. Since then Aquarius has established itself as a market leader providing quality four-wheel drive Road Rail Vehicles for track maintenance in the rail industry. The company has continued to grow and now has a fleet of specialist road-to-rail vehicles that are provided on hire throughout the UK.
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 railcars to demonstrate the capability of the 200Tdi diesel engine.
Note from Land Rover: “All driving sequences in the video are performed by a professional driver on a privately owned railway track closed to the general public at the time of filming and carried out under strict supervision of a safety expert. Vehicle shown has been converted for rail use by specialist technicians. Do not attempt.”
Production Land Rover Discovery Sport features and specifications (except the road-to-rail conversion, of course) apply to the UK market and are subject to change without notice by the manufacturer.
News source, photos and video courtesy Land Rover UK
Story © 2016 CarNichiWa.com