By Bennett Oghifo
Reversing a trailer is stressful at the best of times, but add the watchful eye of your father, a narrow single-track causeway, a luxury 6.8m caravan and an incoming tide and you have all the ingredients for a towing disaster – especially for a novice driver.
But the pressure didn’t stop British comedian and actor Jack Whitehall from getting behind the wheel of the Land Rover Discovery at the Corbière lighthouse in Jersey, to reverse all the way to the mainland as the tide rushed in.
When it comes to towing, the seven-seat family SUV has led the way ever since the original model pulled a train at its launch in 1989. Now, with his father Michael providing encouragement, Jack has written the next chapter in the Discovery towing story by demonstrating how easy it is to reverse tow using Advanced Tow Assist.
With a luxurious 6.8m long Airstream Missouri caravan hitched to the Discovery, and using the rear-facing camera and dash-mounted rotary controller to steer, Jack successfully navigated the full-size SUV along the narrow causeway just in time to avoid the incoming tide. A few moments later, the entire 300m stretch of private road was covered by the waves.
Jack Whitehall, comedian and actor, said: “I’m a driving novice, so reversing without a trailer is a challenge – never mind doing it with a huge luxury caravan hooked up.
It was fun to see the steering wheel moving on its own, as I used ‘The Knob’ to steer. Without the clever tech on the Discovery, I’m pretty certain we’d have been swimming back to shore – I just wish it had a mute button for my dad, too.”
The latest towing demonstration from the Discovery family follows a 16km drive across the
Australian Outback in 2017, pulling a 110-tonne road train. The Discovery Sport premium compact SUV also pulled a 100-tonne train across a Swiss railway bridge – inspired by the Discovery 1, which completed a similar feat at its 1989 launch. Thirty years on, the Discovery is still the world’s most versatile and capable family SUV.
Michael Whitehall, Jack’s father, said: “Reversing across the Corbière causeway was an impressive feat, but we all know the Land Rover Discovery did all the work. It wasn’t Jack, it was ‘The Knob’, so let’s not fool ourselves.”
Advanced Tow Assist allows drivers to reverse a trailer using the rotary controller on the centre console to guide the vehicle.
Operating the pedals as normal, the intuitive system shows the predicted path of the caravan, horsebox or trailer on the infotainment touchscreen, enabling drivers to steer with ease as the vehicle calculates the precise level of counter-steering required to maintain the desired trajectory.
Daniel Rogers, Land Rover Towing Attribute Leader, said: “The Land Rover Discovery has proved itself to be the ultimate family SUV over the past 30 years and Advanced Tow Assist underlines those credentials. Jack had never towed anything before, but the technology makes parking a horse box or reversing a boat down a jetty really simple, which is great news for novice drivers and experienced hands.”