How do you one-up climbing 999 steps on one of the steepest mountains in China — in an SUV? Well, if you’re Range Rover, you pit the brand-new 2023 Range Rover Sport against a flooding dam spillway. To make the recipe a surefire success, add tons of raging-force water, a 195-foot sheer drop to the valley below, and a Bond movie stunt driver.
After the aforementioned Dragon’s Challenge in China in the previous-gen Range Rover Sport, the marketing team at Jaguar-Land Rover must’ve had a task to come up with something on a scale fitting enough to showcase the new SUV’s capabilities. So they found the tallest rock-face dam in Europe, called the Karahnjukar Dam. It’s in frigid Iceland, and it’s also one of the largest of its type in the world. So far, so good.
A Bond Movie Stunt Driver Behind The Wheel
They then roped in Jessica Hawkins, Bond-movie stunt expert and W Series racing driver, to attempt what’s never been attempted before, anywhere in the world — drive up a dam spillway, while the flood gates are open!
The ‘Spillway’, as the challenge is called, begins with the Range Rover Sport speeding across a rocky valley at the base of the Karahnjukar hydroelectric project. The intensity amps up when you realize that the spillway doesn’t have any catch-all mechanisms to prevent objects from falling off the edge. If something goes wrong, it’s game over
Also, the fact that it’s never been done before means the team doesn’t really know what to expect. The 649-foot-long climb up the spillway chute would be hard enough without factoring in the angle of the incline and the force of the water flooding down it. As you can imagine, all that stored water released down a steep descent equals a ton of force. Or more, considering the rate of flow maxes out 750 tons of water a minute, or 52,834 gallons a second!
Range Rover Sport’s New Twin-Turbo V8
The Range Rover Sport lineup now includes, for the first time ever, a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 instead of the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 previous generations used. The twin-turbo motor, which is also under the hood of nearly every M flagship car, like the BMW M5 Competition, puts out 523 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque in the range-topping P530. Range Rover estimates its 0-60mph time at 4.3 seconds. Or more than enough to outrun the forces of nature.
Standard all-wheel drive, and adjustable air suspension prove to be as useful on a challenge like this, as they would be out in the real-world. This particular Sport’s been fitted with off-road tyres, and the optional Stormer Handling Pack. The pack adds in rear-wheel steering, electronic active differential, brake torque vectoring, and Dynamic Response Pro active roll control.
Again, must-haves for a challenge of this magnitude, with the new Sport’s ability to turn its rear wheels up to 7.3 degrees giving it the turning radius of a hatchback. Again, equally useful to navigate obstacles like the rocky Icelandic terrain, or tight mall parking lots. The only non-standard equipment on the Sport used is the inclusion of an integrated roll-cage. This is pretty much on-brand for Range Rover, with all the SUVs used in previous challenges carrying similar modifications, of course if things dont go according to plan, they try and keep the safety measures in place however possible.
Range Rover Sport: The First SUV To Drive Up A Flooding Spillway
The spillway climb is the undoubted highlight of the commercial. But, stick around, and you’ll also see the Sport’s 48V active roll control at work as the SUV drives the walls of a water-filled tunnel. The active differential and torque vectoring come into play later as the Sport clambers over the rocky side of the dam to reach the entrance to the spillway at the top of the cliff. It makes what’s admittedly a tough-looking rocky climb look like a drive in the park, impressively enough. Even that’s nothing compared to how easy the Range Rover Sport makes the climb up the flooding spillway chute look. While the water levels don’t look too high, it’s key to remember that raging water is battling every inch of progress. Some clever edits do bring to question whether the SUV actually climbed the steps in the spillway, but we’re okay giving them the benefit of doubt here.
As far as commercials go, nothing really showcases a vehicle’s capabilities better than actually putting it out into the world, against real-life obstacles. Range Rover’s taken on the Pikes Peak hill climb in the US in the past, become the first vehicles to cross the Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia, before the Dakar was held there, and the Dragon’s Challenge in China. And this newest film for the new Range Rover Sport featuring ‘The Spillway’ has raised the bar, once again.