With Land Rover now producing some two-wheel drive models that are more road-focused than its traditional off-road fare, and even a convertible, it’s probably a good time for the company to reaffirm the imperious off-road capability its vehicles have long been renowned for. So, the 99 turns and 999 steps of Heaven’s Gate, one of China’s most famous landmarks, was the perfect opportunity to showcase the incredible capability of the Range Rover Sport PHEV.
The petrol-electric performance SUV has now become the first vehicle in history to climb the stairs to the natural rock arch of Heaven’s Gate. The adventure began at the start of the legendary 11.3 km Tianmen Mountain Road, which is also quite appropriately known as the Dragon Road. The Range Rover Sport P400e used for the challenge was a showroom standard model, so there were no enhancements made to help it overcome the awaiting obstacles to reaching the summit and negotiating the demanding course.
Behind the wheel of the P400e was Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Ho-Pin Tung, and for those familiar with Land Rover’s current models, the Terrain Response 2 system in the vehicle was employed in Dynamic mode.
After completing the challenge, the driver commented, “I’ve experienced Formula E, Formula 1 and won at the 24 Hours of Le Mans but this was without doubt one of the most demanding driving challenges I’ve ever faced. The Range Rover Sport PHEV performed brilliantly as it inspired real confidence on the mountain road and climbed the stairs up to Heaven’s Gate effortlessly.”
This Dragon Challenge is just the latest in a series of adventures the Range Rover Sport has been put to the test with. The plug-in hybrid version made its debut in a race against double open-water swimming world champion Keri-anne Payne and endurance athlete Ross Edgley in Devon in the UK. Previous stunts include a record-setting hill-climb at the legendary Pikes Peak, a record navigating of the ‘Empty Quarter’ desert in the Arabian Peninsula, and a 2 170m descent of the formidable Inferno downhill course in Mürren in Switzerland.
Land Rover Experience expert, Phil Jones, said of the latest achievement, “This was the hardest Range Rover Sport challenge I’ve ever been involved with because, until we reached the top, we couldn’t categorically say we would succeed. By making it to the summit, we’ve proven the phenomenal capability of the Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid like never before – with a genuine world first.” – AFP Relaxnews