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Tianmen Mountain Road in the Hunan Province of China incorporates a dizzying 99 hairpin bends along the 11.3km of mountainside road. At the summit, this road leads towards 999 steps, all of which lead to Heaven’s Gate, a natural rock arch in the mountainside, mythically thought to be a link between the mortal world and the world of the gods.

Reaching Heaven’s Gate is no mean feat. The demanding road that leads up the mountain towards this spectacle is so formidable that there is no room for error. After the road comes the steps, which at their steepest sit at a towering 45-degree angle. While the drive up the 11.3km of winding road has been previously tackled, no vehicle has ever taken on the immense task of driving both the road and the 999 steps all the way to the summit, until now.

New Range Rover Sport PHEV tackled the formidable 11.3km road with ease

Reaching the top requires a vehicle with performance and capability in equal measure, and what better place than the epic Tianman Mountain Road to demonstrate the power of New Range Rover Sport Plug-in Hybrid. Behind the wheel, and ready to take on the challenge, is Ho-Pin Tung, Le Mans 24 Hour Winner and driver for Jaguar Formula E Racing.

It is time to see how New Range Rover Sport Plug-In Hybrid SUV fares in this world-first challenge, testing its performance and capability, while pushing the boundaries of off-road driving to new heights.

 

The journey started with a test in the UK, where Ho-Pin joined the team at Jaguar Land Rover’s testing facility. After some calculations and consideration, the team began tackling a specially-built test model of the 45-degree angle steps that were waiting for them in China. Not all aspects of the challenge could be tested, and doubts remained for the successful completion of the task.

“The Dragon Challenge is the hardest challenge I’ve ever been involved with because I can’t categorically say that we will succeed.”

Phil Jones

Despite the enormity of the challenge that lay ahead, the team set out to China and the day was soon upon them. It was time to take on the Dragon Challenge.

The first section conquered by the New Range Rover Sport Plug-In Hybrid was the epic mountain road, which is usually only used by ECO buses, with drivers who are specially trained for its 99 hairpin bends.

New Range Rover Sport Plug-In Hybrid combines power and superior dynamic characteristics, perfect for the first section of the Dragon Challenge. Delivering 297kW from the combination of the Si4 Ingenium petrol engine and 85kw electric motor, the hybrid SUV effortlessly handled the challenges presented by the initial stretch of the road.

The superior handling of the vehicle was necessary to tackle the hairpin bends

Each hairpin bend was a trial of skill and capability, but the superior handling, boosted by the Terrain Response 2 system, saw New Range Rover Sport manoeuvre through all 99 bends with ease.

Once the slalom of turns was negotiated, the hybrid SUV carefully navigated the lowest set of steps, bringing it to the final leg of the challenge: an extreme off-road climb up the 999 steps.

The drive up the 45 degree angle steps had never been tackled before

 

Switching to Mud and Ruts mode and using its combined 297kW engine and instant torque provided by the electric motor, New Range Rover Sport Plug-In Hybrid launched into action. Capitalising on the sustained power delivery that comes from the combination of fuel and electric, the hybrid 4x4 made the world’s first attempt to reach the summit of the steps by car.

Disappearing into the fog surrounding the mountains during its final ascent, New Range Rover Sport Plug-In Hybrid successfully emerged at the top after a powerful climb up the steps.

New Range Rover Sport PHEV conquered Tianmen Mountain

The hybrid SUV completed the previously un-attempted drive that included 99 bends, 999 steps and the slow manoeuvring at the bottom of the steps, in an impressive 22 minutes and 41 seconds. At the finish line, the Range Rover Sport Dragon Challenge team celebrated with a shared sense of accomplishment and relief at the successful completion of the latest in the series of Driven Challenges.

In a combination of true capability, the unwavering power of hybrid and the skill of the driver, the team successfully completed this monumental challenge.

It was the true power and performance of New Range Rover Sport Plug-In Hybrid that allowed the team to successfully conquer The Dragon Challenge, making it the world’s first vehicle to successfully complete the 99 turns and 999 steps of Tianmen Mountain.

NEW RANGE ROVER SPORT PLUG-IN HYBRID

EXPLORE THE VEHICLE THAT TOOK ON THE DRAGON CHALLENGE AND WON

  • BEYOND THE EXPECTED

    Explore the vehicle that conquered the twists and turns of the Dragon Challenge and discover the true power of a plug-in hybrid SUV.

     

  • THE THRILL OF THE DRIVE

    Go beyond your daily drive with a Land Rover Experience day. Get behind the wheel and learn from professionals as you navigate off-road obstacles in the comfort of a Land Rover.

     

  • A NEW KIND OF POWERFUL

    Explore Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles and discover how power and refinement come together to deliver unrivalled capability.

     

© JAGUAR LAND ROVER LIMITED 2021

Jaguar Land Rover Limited: Registered office: Abbey Road, Whitley, Coventry CV3 4LF. Registered in England No: 1672070

Smart settings available from mid-2021.

Important note on imagery & specification. We are living through exceptional times. Due to the Covid pandemic we have been prevented or delayed in the creation of new images of current model years. Now the global impact of micro-chip shortages is further affecting build specifications, options and launch timings. Until this unique event settles, please note that many images cannot be updated to 22 model year specifications. Features, options, trim and colour schemes will differ from many images. Customers are urged to consult your local Retailer for detailed 22 model year specifications and do not base an order on marketing imagery and specification alone.

Jaguar Land Rover Limited is constantly seeking ways to improve the specification, design and production of its vehicles, parts and accessories and alterations take place continually, and we reserve the right to change without notice. Some features may vary between optional and standard for different model years. The information, specification, engines and colours on this website are based on European specification and may vary from market to market and are subject to change without notice. Some vehicles are shown with optional equipment and retailer-fit accessories that may not be available in all markets. Please contact your local retailer for local availability and prices.

‡‡Price shown is the manufacturers recommended drive-away prices (MRDP) which applies to the vehicle model and optional features selected in the vehicle configurator and as described in the configuration summary. The MRDP is an estimated price which includes the manufacturer's recommended list price, any associated registration fees, applicable taxes (including GST), levies and CTP insurances at the time of publishing in accordance with the applicable state / territory legislation where the Retailer is located for a 12 month period. The MRDP may vary as a result of differences in price components such as location, stamp duty or registration fees. CTP rate is based on a private owner aged 40 with 0 demerit points, no accidents or driving convictions and the vehicle being garaged in the postcode entered. Some information presented or used in the MRDP calculation is sourced from third parties. Jaguar Land Rover Australia has made every effort to ensure accuracy, however please contact your preferred Jaguar Land Rover Retailer to confirm your actual drive-away price which may vary according to your individual circumstances, including any trade-in value agreed between you and the Retailer. Excludes fleet, government, rental buyers, hire car and chauffeur companies.