In what appears to be an act of automotive parkour, the new Range Rover PHEV has climbed to China’s Dragon’s Road and then on to Heaven’s Gate. All 99 turns and 999 steps including a 45-degree incline to get there. That’s…well, it’s slightly nuts. But you can’t have stunts without nuts and a couple of extra letters.
Stunts also need good drivers, or, failing that a driver with a local connection. Ho-Pin Tung is a good driver and has a local connection – he had the chops to be a Williams development driver and has won his class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He’s also Jaguar’s Formula E reserve driver.
Dragon’s Road is on Tianmen Mountain. The 11.3km road is narrow and spectacular, with huge drops over the side. Once you reach the end of the road, you’ll find the stairs to Heaven’s Gate. They’re steep and, er, not really made for cars, not even for a two-tonne 297kW (398bhp) Range Rover hybrid which probably wasn’t on the builders’ minds, if I’m honest.
“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.”
Phil Jones, Land Rover Experience expert
Range Rover PHEV
But wait. Isn’t The Redline all about performance? We certainly are, and I think it’s fair to say that the Rangie is a performance car. Called the Range Rover Sport P400e, that e bit is important – it’s got an electric motor. Now, laudably, you can pootle around town on electrons only for up to 50km/h. Remember, the RR is pretty chunky, so even if you get half that, it’s cheaper, quieter and better for everyone, especially if you’ve charged from renewables.
Under the bonnet is the 221kW (300bhp) version of Jaguar’s 2.0-litre turbo Ingenium engine plugged into a nine-speed automatic transmission. Crammed in there is the 85kW electric motor which, as we’ve already mentioned, you can charge from the mains. When they’re working together, the Rangie moves with indecent speed and, as Tung discovered, will climb up the stairs when in the right Terrain response mode.
The video tells you all the good stuff, so have a watch and have a look at the images in the gallery.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.