TALK about drama – the Land Rover maxim may be ‘Above and Beyond’ but this really was pushing the limits of possibility.
It was the global debut of the new Range Rover Sport, delivered in the manner of a James Bond movie and even starred 007’s stunt driver.
And talking premieres, the reveal also included a world-first in the form of a nail-biting climb up a flooded dam spillway in Iceland.
The epic, and successful, ascent saw the Range Rover Sport resist the surging torrent of water flowing down the ramp of the Karahnjukar Dam – the biggest of its type in the world – at a rate of 750 tonnes per minute.
A loss of traction risked plunging down the perilous 90-metre drop at the base of the spillway to the valley floor below.
Official James Bond stunt driver Jessica Hawkins was behind the wheel as the new Sport demonstrated its grip, traction, performance and composure, completing the latest in a series of challenges for the luxury performance SUV.
Previous feats include a record-setting hill-climb at Pikes Peak, a first recorded crossing of the ‘Empty Quarter’ desert in the Arabian Peninsula and a first ascent of the 999 steps to Heaven’s Gate in China.
In the case of the spillway climb it was the final obstacle on the drive from the valley floor to the summit of the dam, taking in a flooded riverbed, the concrete tunnels of the hydro-electric dam and the rocky dam wall itself.
The final 294-metre stretch of spillway rises at 40-degrees and climbs 193 metres, with water cascading down to provide an exacting test of traction and driver confidence.
Said Hawkins: “The power of the water surging down the spillway was breath-taking from the side of the valley.
“Driving into it knowing that a 90-metre drop was waiting behind me at the bottom of the slope, if things went wrong, made this the most challenging drive I’ve ever undertaken.”
This third generation of the Range Rover Sport is the most technologically advanced and capable yet, mixing road presence with instinctive driving responses using the most advanced combination of chassis technologies ever fitted to a Land Rover.
The car’s powertrain line-up includes two six-cylinder extended range Electric Hybrid plug-ins, which provide a pure-electric driving range of up to 70 miles, a real-world range of 460 miles and CO2 emissions as low as 18g/km.
And the new 530PS V8 Twin Turbo provides sports car performance, with 0-60mph possible in as little as 4.3 seconds with Dynamic Launch engaged.
Buyers can also choose from mild hybrid petrol and diesel Ingenium engines, while a pure electric will be available in 2024.
Key features include Dynamic Air Suspension with switchable volume air springs – a Range Rover first – plus twin-valve active dampers to provide new levels of agility, control and composure.
Dynamic Response Pro is a 48-volt electronic active roll control system, capable of applying up to 1,400Nm of torque across each axle, for a confident driving experience and new levels of body control and cornering composure.
And Land Rover’s Pivi Pro infotainment set-up features a hi-res floating 13.1-inch touchscreen controlling everything from navigation to media and vehicle settings.
There’s also Amazon Alexa2 embedded in Pivi Pro and the clever voice AI even integrates the use of Alexa devices in the home via the Land Rover smartphone app and Remote Skills.
The new Range Rover Sport will be exclusively produced at Land Rover’s Solihull plant alongside the new Range Rover. It is available to order now.