A Range Rover Sport plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has become the first vehicle to reach the summit of Tianmen Mountain in China, climbing up 999 steps to Heaven's Gate for Land Rover's "Dragon Challenge."
To complete the trial, Formula E driver Ho-Pin Tung had to take his 2018 Range Rover P400e up the infamous Tianmen Mountain Road, navigating seven miles and 99 turns of tight twisties. Once he successfully completed the demanding road course, Tung began the harrowing ascent up to the Heaven's Gate rock arch at the top of the mountain, which no vehicle has ever set tire on.
The stakes were high, as Jaguar Experience's Phil Jones explained that his team had no way of proving that this PHEV could handle this challenge during testing. One errant steering or throttle input and the Range Rover Sport would come tumbling down the treacherous staircase.
"I’ve experienced Formula E, Formula 1 and won at the 24 Hours of Le Mans but this was without [a] doubt one of the most demanding driving challenges I’ve ever faced," said 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."
Tung tackled the 45-degree stairway using the Range Rover Sport's Terrain Response 2 system, and also had help from the PHEV's hybrid motor, which pumps out a combined total of 398-horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque.
While this might seem like a heck of a feat, it arguably isn't the most extreme thing this luxury off-roader has done. The Range Rover Sport has already proven its mettle by driving across the 250,000 square miles "Empty Quarter" desert, conquering the Pike's Peak Hillclimb, and taking on the Inferno downhill ski challenge in Switzerland.