Ranger Rover Sport PHEV becomes first vehicle to climb Heaven's Gate

Range Rover Sport PHEV 999 Steps to Heaven’s Gate

Range Rover Sport PHEV 999 Steps to Heaven’s Gate

Range Rover has set an unusual world record in China, driving one of its SUVs up a massive set to stairs to the iconic Heaven's Gate natural rock arch.

The Range Rover Sport PHEV may use the most modern of powertrains, but it certainly looks to have Land Rover's USP firmly in place. The vehicle was in no way prepared for the event, apart for the excessive use of the Terrain Response system.

The Tianmen Mountain Road (known as the Dragon Road) is a seven mile climb with 99 turns, culminating with 999 steps and a 45 degree climb to "Heaven's Gate", and Land Rover stuck Panasonic Jaguar Racing's Ho-Pin Tung behind the wheel and told him to get on with it.

"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".

"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".

But does that unbeatable off-road USP still hold good when Land Rover has gone down the plug-in hybrid route, using a four-cylinder engine and electrical assistance to deliver its box of four-wheel tricks in the Range Rover Sport PHEV?

The Dragon Challenge is the latest in a series of adventures completed by the Range Rover Sport after the PHEV model made its debut in a race against two-time open-water swimming world champion Keri-anne Payne and endurance athlete Ross Edgley in Devon, UK.

Previous exploits include a record-setting hill-climb at Pikes Peak, USA, a record crossing of the "Empty Quarter" desert in the Arabian Peninsula and a 2,170m descent of the legendary Inferno downhill course in Mürren, Switzerland.