THE Land Rover Discovery has been named the Tow Car of the Decade - on the day the latest Discovery Sport showed its mettle by pulling a 100-tonne train.
The British-built 4x4 carried off the special honour in the annual Tow Car Awards which is celebrating its tenth anniversary.
Judged by experts from The Camping and Caravanning Club, Practical Caravan magazine and What Car? this year's top award went to the Skoda Superb hatch which beat off competition from 41 other models.
And to mark the anniversary, the judges honoured the Land Rover Discovery 4 as the most capable tow car of the past 10 years for its unrivalled performance since the competition began in 2007.
The Discovery 4, which won the tow car title outright in 2010, was also voted best in the over 1.9-tonnes category in this year's awards which also saw the Discovery Sport taking the title in the 1.7-tonne section.
It came as a specially modified Discovery Sport demonstrated its pulling power by towing three train carriages weighing more than 100 tonnes along a seven mile section of railway in northern Switzerland, crossing the River Rhine on the dramatic Hemishofen bridge - a steel span measuring 935 feet long and soaring 85 feet above the valley floor.
Though the Discovery Sport has a certified maximum towing weight of 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.
For the test, the vehicle's drivetrain remained unchanged, the only modification being the fitting of rail wheels by specialists Aquarius Railroad Technologies to act as stabilisers.
The Discovery Sport completed the pull without the aid of a low-range gearbox, instead using its state-of-the-art nine-speed automatic gearbox and Terrain Response technology to generate the necessary traction.
Aquarius Railroad Technologies was set up in Ripon, Yorkshire in 1999 by engineer James Platt who identified a gap in the rail infrastructure market for road-to-rail vehicles for maintenance purposes.
"For a vehicle of this size to pull a combined weight of more than 100 tonnes demonstrates real engineering integrity," said Mr 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."
In the Tow Car Awards, David Motton of Practical Caravan magazine, said: "After ten years of Tow Car Awards, we're really proud to have developed the most comprehensive tests, proved how accomplished and safe most cars can be when towing a suitable trailer, and compiled a decade's worth of useful towing test reports."
He added: "When it came to choosing our first Tow Car of the Decade, we unanimously chose the Land Rover Discovery 4 as it had won more times than any other."
In the competition vehicles, towing a Swift caravan, are tested to their limits at the MIRA proving ground in Warwickshire and are judged infive groups according to their kerbweight (from up to 1.4 tonnes to 1.9 tonnes or more) as well as for specific titles, including the Green Award, Best MPV, Best Petrol Tow Car and Best Ultralight Tow Car.
The winners for 2016 are:
Best Ultralight Tow Car: Suzuki Vitara 1.4 Boosterjet Allgrip S (£20,899)
Best Petrol Tow Car: Ford Mondeo Vignale 2.0 EcoBoost (240ps) auto (£30,855)
Best MPV: Seat Alhambra 2.0 TDI (184ps) SE Lux DSG (£35,190)
Green Award: Kia cee'd Sportswagon 1.6 CRDi (134ps) 2 (£19,895)
Weight class winners:
Up to 1400kg: Honda HR-V 1.6 i-DTEC SE (£22,440)
1400-1549kg: Skoda Superb Hatch 2.0 TDI (150ps) SE Business (£22,555)
1550-1699kg: Jaguar XF 2.0 i4D (180ps) Prestige auto (£34,550)
1700-1899kg: Land Rover Discovery Sport TD4 (180ps) SE Tech auto (£36,350)
1900kg+: Land Rover Discovery 3.0 SDV6 (256ps) Graphite (£47,505)
Overall Winner: Skoda Superb Hatch 2.0 TDI