SUVs

Range Rover Sport climbs 999 stairs at Heaven's Gate in China

It might be called Heaven's Gate, but going up a thousand stairs sure sounds like hell to me.

Land Rover

Why would Land Rover drive one of its SUVs up 999 stairs in the middle of China? Because it can.

Land Rover recently pulled off one seriously impressive stunt. Starting with the 7-mile Tianmen Mountain Road, a Range Rover Sport traveled its way to the famous Heaven's Gate landmark in China. That's when the real work started -- the plucky little Range Rover climbed 999 steps at a 45-degree incline.

"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," said Ho-Pin Tung, the Formula E driver who was tasked with piloting the Range Rover Sport, in a statement.

While this might seem silly -- and it sort of is -- there's a reason for Land Rover's madness. The automaker is all about building SUVs that actually live up to performance expectations, especially when it comes to traversing troublesome terrain. Previous stunts like this have involved downhill ski courses, Arabian deserts and Pikes Peak. This is just another in a long line of challenges that basically say, "See? It can do just about anything."

Late last year, Land Rover gave the Range Rover Sport a midcycle refresh. While there are performance and infotainment adjustments, the most important update is the introduction of a new plug-in hybrid variant, which puts out 398 horsepower and offers 31 miles of all-electric range. The PHEV should go on sale in the summer.