Watch the new Range Rover Sport climb 999 steps up Heaven's Gate

Land Rover’s latest in a series of stunts sees the new Range Rover Sport PHEV set a new record as the first SUV to climb China's famous Heaven's Gate. And boy is it steep...

Watch the new Range Rover Sport climb 999 steps up Heaven's Gate

How would 99 turns and 999 daunting steps sound for your morning work out? No? If exercise isn’t your strong point, Jaguar Land Rover now have a solution in the form of the new Range Rover Sport PHEV.

Completing a world first at one of China’s iconic landmarks, the petrol-electric hybrid has earned its green oval by climbing the stairs to the natural rock arch of Heaven’s Gate, in the Zhangjiajie province of Hunan.

Starting at the bottom of the 11.3km Tianmen Mountain ‘Dragon’ Road, the challenge vehicle wasn’t modified or reinforced for the dizzying climb. Completely showroom standard, the Range Rover Sport P400e tackled the demanding ‘course’ in Dynamic mode. That's same setting used on a daily basis to collect children from school and cruise up the motorway.

Piloted by Ho-Pin Tung, currently competing for Panasonic Jaguar Racing, the Formula E driver employed Terrain Response for the final climb of the towering 45-degree staircase. Without a solitary moment of uncertainty, the Range Rover conquered the approach to Heaven’s Gate with ease. Hopefully something that the Chinese tourist board may offer to those of us too lazy to attempt the back-breaking slog ourselves.

‘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,’ Ho-Pin Tung said.

‘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.’

  • Ho-Pin Tung

When fully charged, the new PHEV drivetrain allows the Range Rover Sport a zero-emission EV range of up to 50km – something that may be handy for future company car tax laws and London emission zones. However, Ho-Pin Tung utilised all 295bhp from the Ingenium petrol engine alongside the 114bhp electric motor, ensuring no cabin ambience was lost tackling the harsh stairway.

Phil Jones, Land Rover Experience expert, said: ‘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.’

The Dragon Challenge is only the latest in a series of adventures undertaken by the Range Rover Sport PHEV, unveiled in a two-minute open-water swimming race against world champion Keri-anne Payne and endurance athlete Ross Edgley.

Previous explorations have included a record-setting hill climb at Pikes Peak in the U.S.A, a crossing of the Empty Quarter desert in the Arabian Peninsula and a 2,170m decent of the Swiss Inferno downhill course.

Next time someone informs you the lift is out of action, don't panic. Simply buy a Range Rover Sport.