The All-New Land Rover Discovery has been nominated as a finalist in the 2018 South African Car of the Year competition – fresh off the back of its latest challenge: towing a 110-tonne road train in the Australian Outback. The sight of a seven-trailer truck being pulled by an SUV sounds far-fetched, but that’s exactly what happened when Land Rover put the All-New Discovery to the ultimate towing test.
Road trains cover the vast distances of Australia’s Outback, carrying fuel, mineral ore and cattle between remote rural communities. These mega-transporters can consist of up to four trailers, with strict regulations limiting them to a maximum length of 53.5m. To show off the incredibly towing prowess of the All-New Discovery, Land Rover obtained special permission to pull seven trailers and the 12-tonne tractor unit, which was retained to operate the hydraulic brakes fitted to the trailers. This special road train was 100 metres long, and weighed 110 000kg.
Equipped with All-Wheel Drive and Land Rover’s 3.0-litre diesel engine, producing 190kW and 600Nm, the All-New Discovery successfully towed the 100-metre-long, 110-tonne road train for 16 kilometres along a closed section of the Lasseter Highway. On public roads, the All-New Discovery Td6 is rated to safely tow 3,500kg.
John Bilato, Managing Director of haulage specialist G&S Transport, took the wheel for the epic pull. He said:
“When Land Rover first got in touch, I didn’t think the vehicle would be able to do it, so I was amazed by how easily the standard Discovery pulled a 110-tonne road train. And the smoothness of the gear changes under that amount of load was genuinely impressive. These road trains are the most efficient form of road haulage on the planet and using the Discovery made this the most economical of all.”
The extreme test was carried out using an All-New Discovery Td6, and is the latest in a series of impressive towing demonstrations completed by the Discovery family. At its 1989 launch, the original Discovery I was used to pull a train and last year the Discovery Sport premium compact SUV towed a trio of rail carriages 26m above the Rhine River.
Quentin Spottiswoode, Land Rover Product Engineer, said:
“Towing capability has always been an important part of Discovery DNA and the raw weight of the road train tells only half the story here. Pulling a rig and seven trailers, with the rolling resistance of so many axles to overcome, is a huge achievement. We expected the vehicle to do well but it passed this test with flying colours, hitting 44km/h along its 16km route.”
For this ultimate towing test, the Discovery used a standard eight-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive system and was hooked up to the road train using a factory-fitted tow bar attachment. The road train itself was even carrying 10-tonnes of ballast in order to hit the magic 110-tonne weight mark.
With 600Nm of torque, the Td6 is well suited to pulling heavy loads. The 190kW 3.0-litre single-turbo engine features low-pressure exhaust recirculation and a two-stage oil pump for improved responses, refinement and efficiency. As a result, the diesel model delivers CO2 emissions of 207g/km and fuel economy of 7.8l/100 km.
All-New Discovery’s Advanced Tow Assist technology takes the stress out of reversing by providing responsive trajectory lines on the rear camera feed to the central touchscreen. This allows the driver to steer the vehicle using the rotary Terrain Response 2 controller on the centre console while the system calculates the steering inputs required to achieve the desired outcome.
In addition to Advanced Tow Assist, All-New Discovery’s award-winning towing capability also includes:
Trailer Light Test – allows customers to test their trailer lights without outside assistance
Rear Height Assist – allows the driver to lower and raise the height of the rear of the vehicle to making hitching a trailer simple
Hitch Assist – guides the driver to the trailer hitch point by displaying trajectory lines on the touchscreen feed to simplify the process
Nose Load Measurement – allows customers to quickly check the weight being applied to the vehicle tow bar to avoid dangerous overloading
Trailer Stability Assist – enhances safety on the move by detecting trailer sway and reduces the speed of the vehicle to restore control to the driver