Semi-Autonomous Tech Helps Discovery Sport Pull 108-Tonne Train

16 June 2016

Land Rover stopped people in their tracks today as the Discovery Sport SUV towed three luxury train carriages weighing 108 tonnes along a railway track in a demonstration of towing capability.

  • Land Rover Discovery Sport tows train 60 times own weight in 108-tonne train tow; equivalent to the weight of a Boeing-757 airplane
  • Dramatic stunt performed on 85ft high bridge demonstrates vehicle’s impressive towing capacity, semi-autonomous driving technology and powerful 180PS Ingenium diesel engine
  • Discovery Sport wins its class at the prestigious Tow Car Awards in the UK

Land Rover stopped people in their tracks today as the Discovery Sport SUV towed three luxury train carriages weighing 108 tonnes along a railway track in a demonstration of towing capability.

Semi-Autonomous Tech Helps Discovery Sport Pull 108-Tonne Train
Semi-Autonomous Tech Helps Discovery Sport Pull 108-Tonne Train

The 10km journey through the Rhine region of northern Switzerland put the compact 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 180PS Ingenium diesel engine providing 430Nm of torque. In addition, the Discovery Sport benefitted from Land Rover’s portfolio of 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 stunt.


This impressive feat coincides with the Discovery Sport being announced winner of the 1,700-1,899kg class at the prestigious Tow Car Awards in the UK, with the Land Rover Discovery named ‘Tow Car of the Decade’.

MASTER FILM: Semi-Autonomous Tech Helps Discovery Sport Pull 108-Tonne Train

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.

Towing is in Land Rover’s DNA, and Discovery Sport is no exception. 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.

Karl Richards
Stability Control Systems, Jaguar Land Rover

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 state-of-the-art 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.

Semi-Autonomous Tech Helps Discovery Sport Pull 108-Tonne Train
Semi-Autonomous Tech Helps Discovery Sport Pull 108-Tonne Train


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 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 notable 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 4x4 conversion specialists Aquarius Railroad Technologies fitted the rail wheels to the otherwise standard Discovery Sport.

For a vehicle of this size to pull a combined weight of 108 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.

James Platt
Managing Director, Aquarius Railroad Technologies
Semi-Autonomous Tech Helps Discovery Sport Pull 108-Tonne Train
Semi-Autonomous Tech Helps Discovery Sport Pull 108-Tonne Train
Semi-Autonomous Tech Helps Discovery Sport Pull 108-Tonne Train

Land Rover Discovery Sport

The Discovery Sport is the first member of Land Rover’s new Discovery family and was awarded a Five Star Euro NCAP rating at launch. Since going on sale in December 2014, the Discovery Sport has retailed over 123,300 vehicles and was Land Rover’s best-seller for the month of May retailing an impressive 10,075 vehicles.

All-terrain capability

The capability of the Discovery Sport is heightened by the introduction of All Terrain Progress Control (ATPC). ATPC is an advanced system that enables drivers to set and maintain a steady speed in off-road conditions. Developed by Land Rover's industry-leading all-terrain specialists, ATPC functions similarly to a cruise control system, operational between 2km/h and 30km/h. ATPC also features a dedicated Launch feature, allowing the vehicle to pull away smoothly and easily, even on problematic low-friction surfaces like ice, snow or wet grass.

Efficient powertrains

Jaguar Land Rover’s cutting-edge Ingenium 2.0-litre diesel engine ensures Discovery Sport is one of the most efficient premium compact SUVs in the world.

The EU6 compliant diesel is available with two power outputs – 150PS and 180PS, delivering fuel economy of up to 57.7mpg (4.9l/100km) and CO2 emissions from 129g/km. The powerful 180PS engine has a top speed of 117 mph (188 km/h) and can accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 8.9 seconds*.

Customers of the Discovery Sport can also choose the four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. The 2.0-litre petrol with 240PS and direct fuel injection offers six-cylinder levels of performance in a compact package that reduces weight and cuts CO2 emissions by up to 20 per cent, compared to conventional larger capacity engines with a similar power output.

All engine derivatives specified with the nine-speed automatic gearbox are fitted with paddleshift controls, allowing the driver to manually select each gear for added control during towing or in challenging off-road and dynamic on-road scenarios.

The premium compact Discovery Sport SUV is sold in over 170 markets and manufactured at Jaguar Land Rover's award-winning Halewood plant in the UK.

*180PS five seat automatic 

Further information

Carmel Digweed
Land Rover Global PR Senior Communications Officer
+44 (0) 7990 084 909

Angela Powell
Land Rover Global PR Communications Officer
+44 (0) 7764 386 446


Twitter: @LandRover

Instagram: LANDROVER

Notes to Editors

About Land Rover

Since 1948 Land Rover has been manufacturing authentic 4x4s that represent true 'breadth of capability' across the model range. Defender, Discovery, Discovery Sport, Range Rover Sport, Range Rover and Range Rover Evoque each define the world's 4x4 sectors, with 80% of this model range exported to over 170 countries.

About the Discovery Sport stunt

Discovery Sport negotiated the 10km of track without any modifications to its axles, engine or drivetrain. The additional rail wheels were engineered and fitted to the Discovery Sport by vehicle conversion specialist Aquarius Railroad Technologies from Ripon, UK.

All driving sequences in the film 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. 

About Land Rover Towing Technologies

  • Land Rover’s Tow Assist helps drivers when reversing with a trailer using the reversing camera and central touchscreen display.
  • Land Rover’s Tow Hitch Assist helps drivers hook up to trailers and caravans. A coloured dot graphic overlaid on the central touchscreen display represents the tow ball, with a line guiding the driver of the vehicle onto the item being towed.

About Aquarius Railroad Technologies

James Platt founded Aquarius in 1999 after he identified a gap in the UK rail infrastructure market for quality 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. 

About the Tow Car Awards

The Tow Car Awards are organised by experts from What Car? and Practical Caravan magazines in conjunction with the Camping and Caravanning Club, the oldest and largest organisation of its type in the world. At this year’s awards Discovery Sport took victory in the 1,700-1,899kg weight division. Land Rover’s Discovery model was also awarded ‘Tow Car of the Decade’ as well as being named pick of the class in the 1,900kg+ category.