It’s not unusual for auto engineers to test their vehicles in the arctic.
The frigid temperatures and slippery conditions offer a great opportunity to put a future product through its paces.
But the models aren’t usually hauling a travel trailer.
Land Rover recently teamed up with Airstream on an adventure to the Arctic Circle to demonstrate the capabilities of the new Range Rover Sport Hybrid.
The world’s first premium diesel hybrid towed the 27-foot-long Airstream travel trailer 2,500 miles to Land Rover’s cold-weather test centre in Arjeplog, Sweden, then on to the Arctic Circle.
In a dramatic real world test of the vehicle’s capability, the car was towing the Airstream through some of the worst winter weather Scandinavia has experienced in living memory, according to a company news release.
Gales, record snow depths, and freak icy road conditions tested crew, car, and trailer to the extreme.
More European Airstream owners choose Land Rover products to tow their ‘silver bullets’ than cars from any other manufacturer so the Range Rover Sport Hybrid and Airstream made an excellent match, according to the release.
Setting off from Land Rover’s Design and Engineering Centre at Gaydon in the English Midlands, the team headed to Mengerskirchen in Germany, where a specially winterized version of the shiny, aluminum 684 model travel trailer was waiting for them at Airstream Europe’s headquarters.
Top of Airstream’s European range of trailers, the 684 is 27 feet of boutique hotel suite on wheels, with two double beds, satellite television, and Corian surfaces in both its fully-equipped kitchen and spacious bathroom. It sure beats camping outside in the arctic.
Once the team had packed their gear on board, the Airstream weighed in at more than 5,510 pounds. For the Range Rover Sport Hybrid, that sort of weight proved no problem, whatever the weather did.
From Germany, the team set a course for Land Rover’s test center in Arjeplog, Sweden, and the journey covered a total of over 2,500 miles.
En route, Land Rover reports the team was buffeted by gale-force side winds, the tail end of Hurricane Ole, when crossing the five-mile-long Øresund Bridge and saw temperatures drop to -8 degrees Fahrenheit. Still, the rig and its custom camper eventually arrived at their chilly destination.
Off-road, the car proved its worth too, repeatedly pulling the trailer up and down snowy and often dangerously icy hills, and along forest tracks without fuss.
“We were closely watching the long range weather forecasts before we set off but nothing prepared us for how bad it got,” said team leader, Ben Samuelson.
“However, time after time, it was only as we got out of the car that we realized quite how treacherous it was outside.”
Further north, as temperatures continued to plummeted, both the vehicle and the trailer’s cold-climate capability and comfort ensured that driver, passengers, and indeed those cooking and sleeping in the trailer each evening, experienced nothing but unruffled luxury.
The demanding cold-weather facility at Arjeplog in northern Sweden is the winter proving ground for the full range of Land Rover’s all-terrain vehicles.
For four months every year, the company’s corps of engineers pitch vehicles to their limits against extreme winter conditions with temperatures which have been known to reach -39 degrees in daytime, but can plummet as low as -42 degrees overnight.
“The Range Rover Sport Hybrid has gone through the same grueling test and development regime that all our cars do,” said Phil Talboys, Arjeplog test facility manager.
“This journey just goes to show that the Range Rover Sport Hybrid is pure hybrid—with all the capability and versatility that you’d expect from a Land Rover.”
The same can be said of the Airstream family of travel trailers.
I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band, I saw a needle that winked its eye. But I think I will have seen everything When I see an Airstream fly.
—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo