A dizzying 99 turns and 999 daunting steps didn’t stop the new Range Rover Sport PHEV from completing a world-first at one of China’s most famous landmarks.
The performance plug-in hybrid SUV has become the first vehicle to climb the stairs to the natural rock arch of Heaven’s Gate.
The challenge began at the bottom of the legendary 7-mile Tianmen Mountain Road (known as the Dragon Road). Fitted with reinforced tires, the Range Rover Sport took on the demanding course with Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Ho-Pin Tung behind the wheel and the Terrain Response 2 system in Dynamic mode.
At the summit of the road, Ho-Pin Tung optimized Terrain Response for the second part of the challenge, conquering the towering 45-degree staircase of the 999 steps leading to China’s legendary Heaven’s Gate.
The latest Range Rover Sport is Jaguar Land Rover’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Badged P400e, the new model provides sustainable performance by combining a 300hp (221kW) 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine with an 85kW electric motor. The 404hp (297kW) total available power output – available from the permanent four-wheel drive system – delivers 0-60mph in only 6.3 seconds (0-100km/h in 6.7 seconds) and a maximum speed of 137mph. With an impressive 640Nm of combined torque, the new powertrain mixes dynamic and sustainable performance with traditional Land Rover capability, comfort and refinement.
Thanks to its electrified powertrain, Range Rover Sport P400e emits only 64g/km on the NEDC cycle and offers an all-electric range of 31 miles (51km) without the petrol engine running.
Ho-Pin Tung said, “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.”
Phil Jones, Land Rover Experience expert, said, “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 like never before – with a genuine world first.”
The Dragon Challenge is the latest in a series of adventures completed by the Range Rover Sport after the PHEV model made its debut in a race against two-time open-water swimming world champion Keri-anne Payne and endurance athlete Ross Edgley in Devon, UK.
Previous exploits include a record-setting hill-climb at Pikes Peak, USA, a record crossing of the ‘Empty Quarter’ desert in the Arabian Peninsula and a 7,119ft descent of the legendary Inferno downhill course in Mürren, Switzerland.