Land Rover has taken the new Range Rover Sport Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) for a run up China’s Dragon Road, and scaling the heights of Heaven’s Gate – the first time for an SUV.
Is there a point to SUVs unless they can really do off-road and tackle stuff no ordinary car can?
Clearly the rise and rise of SUVs on the road in recent years says yes to that, but Land Rover’s USP has always been its ability to deliver high-riding luxury car which can still do things only a Defender really should.
But does that unbeatable off-road USP still hold good when Land Rover has gone down the plug-in hybrid route, using a four-cylinder engine and electrical assistance to deliver its box of four-wheel tricks in the Range Rover Sport PHEV?
Well, if Land Rover’s recent outing to China’s Dragon Road in the new Range Rover Sport PHEV is anything to go by, the answer is an emphatic yes.
The Tianmen Mountain Road (known as the Dragon Road) is a seven mile climb with 99 turns, culminating with 999 steps and a 45 degree climb to ‘Heaven’s Gate’, and Land Rover stuck Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s Ho-Pin Tung behind the wheel and told him to get on with it.
You can see how he got on in the video below – which, at times, looks hardly believable – and this looks to be the toughest challenge Land Rover has set the PHEV Range Rover Sport to date.
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. 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.
The Range Rover Sport PHEV may use the most modern of powertrains, but it certainly looks to have Land Rover’s USP firmly in place.
Range Rover Sport PHEV Dragon Road Challenge Video