Land Rover has driven its flagship Range Rover luxury SUV across a bridge made of paper. The freestanding structure in Suzhou, China, spanned five metres without glue or bolts to hold it in place.
Land Rover commissioned the unique bridge to mark the 45th anniversary of its Range Rover family and to highlight 45 years of Range Rover innovation ahead of the Guangzhou Motor Show in China.
The hand-built paper bridge took three days to construct in the ancient water city of Suzhou, which is famous for its bridges and nicknamed ‘Venice of the East’. The unique crossing was made of high quality paper supplied by specialist British manufacturer James Cropper PLC.
The jaw-dropping drive is the latest in a long line of industry firsts for Land Rover’s flagship SUV. Range Rover was the world’s first-ever luxury SUV when it debuted in 1970 and was the first vehicle to drive across the Darien Gap in Central America two years later. In 1989 it was first 4×4 to be fitted with ABS anti-lock brakes and introduced both Electronic Traction Control and electronic air suspension to the sector in 1992.
The latest fourth-generation model was the first all-aluminium SUV when it debuted in 2012. Its innovative lightweightaluminium body provides a total vehicle saving of up to 420kg compared to using traditional steel.
Land Rover Experience Chief Instructor Chris Zhou was entrusted with negotiating the paper bridge, using a variety of all-terrain technologies to preserve the delicate fabric of the unique structure.Range Rover is available with a series of innovative features that combine to provide unrivalled all-terrain capability including Terrain Response 2 and All-Terrain Progress Control.
Terrain Response 2 features an auto mode which, when selected, optimises a range of vehicle settings to enhance all-terrain capability without any input from the driver.
All-Terrain Progress Control (ATPC) allows drivers to concentrate purely on steering the vehicle when negotiating difficult or slippery terrain by maintaining a set speed ranging from 1.8km/h to 30km/h without any pedal inputs. The intelligent technology enhances all-terrain capability and can be activated on the move or from a standstill, to help when pulling away on tricky surfaces, and even works in reverse gear.
The industry-first technology can assist drivers when pulling away on slippery wet grass – a demanding surface for even experienced off-road drivers – by ensuring minimal wheelspin, and even help to drive the car out of deep sand.
“China is a hugely important market for Range Rover, so we have picked the perfect place to celebrate 45 years of our luxury SUV family,” said Nick Rogers, Director Group Engineering Jaguar Land Rover. “Range Rover’s advanced lightweight body and peerless all-terrain capability were crucial factors in making this unique drive possible.”
“Paper structures capable of supporting people have been built before but nothing on this scale has ever been attempted,” said artist and paper bridge designer, Steve Messam. “It’s pushing engineering boundaries, just like the Range Rover, and the ease and composure with which the vehicle negotiated the arch was genuinely breathtaking.”