This article is presented in partnership with Land Rover to support the launch of the all-new Range Rover Sport. Join the conversation at www.facebook.com/LandRover or on Twitter @LandRover #DrivenChallenges.
While you can spend hours poring over opaque stats about torque, horsepower and suspension, the best way to gauge a vehicle’s performance is to try it in the real world. This is what Land Rover has been doing with the Range Rover Sport in a series of ‘Driven Challenges’ that began this year at Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb. After setting a world record for a production vehicle there, the company sent their SUV off-road in one of the harshest climates on earth.
The Empty Quarter is the largest sand desert in the world. Sharing borders with Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates it covers over 250,000 square miles, making it nearly as large as Texas. With temperatures that regularly reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit, it is an incredibly arid and severe terrain. Enlisting Moi Torrallardona, an experienced off-road rally driver, Rover set out to establish the record for the fastest desert crossing by a street legal car.
With Torrallardona at the wheel, a team of expert desert drivers was brought on to help plan the journey. The Empty Quarter is notoriously difficult to navigate, with the landscape shifting between hard-packed sand and soft dunes. Even with a highly trained navigator, journeys there pose unforeseeable obstacles. To capture the hard work and epic scale of this one-of-a-kind crossing, a documentary film team was embedded with the driving crew.
Equipped with a V8 engine, the Rage Rover Sport used for the crossing packed a lot of power under the hood. Along with Land Rover’s new Terrain Response® 2, which automatically adapts to terrain to instantly deliver the best performance, and a four corner air suspension system, the SUV’s dynamic handling gave Land Rover confidence that the Sport could make it through the Empty Quarter quickly and safely.
Starting before sunrise on the 4th of November, Torrallardona and his navigator set off on their journey. With only a single stop to meet a support team for refueling and maintenance, the risks were high. Speeding across sweeping landscape of the Arabian Peninsula, the team crossed 849 km to the finish line in only 10 hours and 22 minutes. They had set the benchmark to challenge any who may venture across the Empty Quarter, and proved that the Rage Rover Sport is an extremely tough SUV.
The full documentary on the crossing will be released in a few days. In the meantime, watch the teaser below: