Welcome to the world-first Dragon Road challenge.
It’s called Heaven’s Gate, a natural rock arch located in Hunan Province, China. To reach the top, one must climb a 999-step staircase at a 45-degree angle. But instead of walking, Land Rover figured its would be up for the task. Before the SUV even arrived at the base of the treacherous stairs, it had to race up Tianmen Mountain Road, also known as the Dragon Road, consisting of 7 miles of also extremely dangerous twists and turns that could very well lead to death if not driven with absolute precision.
Behind the wheel was Formula 1 and Formula E veteran and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Ho-Pin Tung, currently with Panasonic Jaguar Racing. The Range Rover PHEV itself is powered by Land Rover’s new Ingenium 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
It’s combined with an electric motor for a combined output of 398 hp. But just because it’s a plug-in hybrid doesn’t mean it’s not a true Land Rover with serious capabilities. This insane hill climb is sheer proof. “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, said Ho-Pin Tung. “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.” Don’t think for a moment that Land Rover knew the final outcome would be all fine and good, because it didn’t. There serious and likely fatal consequences if something went wrong.
“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.”