Range Rover Sport SVR smashes Ferrari’s Tianmen record

Can a Range Rover really beat a Ferrari-set record on one of the most demanding roads in the world? The answer may surprise you

Range Rover Sport SVR smashes Ferrari’s Tianmen record

Little over a decade ago, the idea of any production SUV or 4x4 out-performing a supercar would have seemed impossible. With lurching suspension, a centre of gravity higher than Cheech & Chong, and the aerodynamics of a bungalow, witnessing the likes of a Mitsubishi Shogun, Mercedes G-Wagen or, indeed, a P38a Overfinch Range Rover out-manoeuvre a Ferrari was a mere pipe dream.

Well, Land Rover has only gone and done it. The Range Rover Sport SVR has set a new unofficial record in China’s Hunan Province, climbing the fearsome Tianmen Mountain road that, famous for its 99 gruelling corners, is truly a test of man and machine.

Land Rover’s performance flagship completed the 11.3km ascent in 9 minutes and 51 seconds at an average speed of 68.8km (42.8mph), beating the previous best of 10 minutes and 31 seconds set by a Ferrari 458 Italia back in 2016.

The standard production Sport SVR clearly utilised all 567bhp from its supercharged V8, taking 4.3 seconds to reach 60mph from a standstill. Although driver Ho-Pin Tung wouldn’t have had a chance to get anywhere near the car’s top speed during his ascent, the SVR is also good for 174mph.

Tung, Panasonic Jaguar Racing’s star driver, said: ‘I am used to the high speeds of racing, but this was even more demanding. Maintaining concentration was the biggest challenge, as the road twists and turns constantly with huge drop-offs to the side.

‘The consequences of getting it wrong would have been really serious, so I focused on establishing a rhythm. The Range Rover Sport SVR made this easy – it may be an SUV, but it has the performance and agility of a supercar and can take you to places a supercar can only dream of.’

It was down to the SVR’s dynamic responses, not to mention Ho-Pin’s driving prowess, that not only delivered the SUV back to base in one piece, but also saw Ferrari’s record smashed by an astounding 40 seconds.

This record-breaking ascent is the latest in a series of challenges to be completed by the Range Rover Sport since the PHEV model successfully completed the dizzying climb towards the iconic Heaven’s Gate natural rock arch, situated at the road’s summit, last month.