Land Rover builds some of the most capable off-road vehicles around, but most owners will likely never use those capabilities. They certainly won’t attempt the latest stunt Land Rover put together to show off its Range Rover Sport.
The British automaker took one of these SUVs to the legendary Inferno downhill ski course in Mürren, Switzerland, and asked stunt driver and ex-Top Gear Stig Ben Collins to drive it to the bottom. There was very little snow on the ground during the attempt, but Collins still faced a 2,170-meter (7,119-foot) descent, with gradients up to 75 percent.
The 14.9-kilometer (9.2-mile) course has been used for the annual Inferno race since 1928, typically drawing around 1,800 competitors from around 20 countries. Despite the course’s steep gradients, challenging topography, and infamous reputation, it is open to the public when the race isn’t on. This is probably the first time someone has tried to go down in a car, though.
Collins completed the course in 21 minutes, 36 seconds, reaching speeds of up to 96 mph. He faced a variety of obstacles on the way down, including snow, ice, loose rock, mud, broken pavement, grass, and gravel. It was like a rogue’s gallery of traction-destroying surfaces. Collins said it was one of the hardest things he’s ever done, and his day job includes stunt driving for James Bond.
The Range Rover Sport used for the stunt was mostly stock, except for different tires and the addition of a roll cage and harness. This model had the 5.0-liter supercharged V8, which produces 510 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. On level ground, Land Rover says it will do 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, and reach a top speed of 140 mph. In the U.S., Land Rover also offers gasoline and diesel V6 versions, and an SVR performance model with a more powerful version of the V8.
Now that we know a Range Rover Sport can handle an Alpine ski course, it’s only a matter of time before Land Rover cooks up another stunt. SUV pole vaulting, perhaps?
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