27 years after its ancestor - the original Land Rover Discovery I - towed a train in 1989 to demonstrate the off-roader’s strength and capability, the ‘Ingenium’ diesel-equipped Discovery Sport faced a similar challenge, with three train carriages strapped to the back on a privately-owned stretch of rail in Switzerland.
With the modifications limited to a set of rail wheels to keep the SUV on track (pardon the pun), the Discovery Sport completed the run without the aid of low-range gearing, relying instead on its nine-speed automatic gearbox and semi-autonomous All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) system - which acts like a ‘low-speed cruise control’.
Producing 132kW of power and more importantly, 430Nm of torque, the 2.0-litre Ingenium diesel was pulled strongly and smoothly to take the 108-tonne train through some 10 kilometres of rail, crossing the Rhine river on the spectacular Hemishofen bridge - a historic steel span sitting 85 feet (26m) above the valley floor and measuring 935 feet (285m) long.
James Platt, managing director of Aquarius Railroad Technologies - the British road-to-rail specialists that fitted the rail wheels for the stunt - said: “For a vehicle 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 than enough pull than our road-rail Defender, which is remarkable.”
“Over the years, we have introduced game-changing towing technologies to take the stress out of towing for our customers,” Jaguar Land Rover engineer Karl Richards said.
“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,” he added.
Using a regular vehicle to pull an astonishingly heavy load is a popular marketing trick, with Toyota's use of a Tundra to pull a space shuttle back in 2012 among the highlights.
Not a great deal of torque is required for such a trick, particularly at the low 12km/h of this demonstration, but the effort says a good deal about a car's frame strength.
Currently, Australian customers are still waiting for the Ingenium engine range to hit local models, however, a spokesperson for JLR confirmed with CarAdvice that the new engines will arrive in Q4 this year as part of a 2017 model-year update for the Discovery Sport.
Watch the Land Rover Discovery Sport in action in the YouTube video above.