Not paper that was stapled, glued, clipped, clamped, bolted, riveted, or otherwise reinforced by any other means. It wasn't even folded in any special way. The bridge was built out of an untold number of tightly-stacked sheets of paper, creating an arch spanning over 16 feet long and standing 11 feet high. Once completed, off-road driving instructor Chris Zhou drove a Range Rover Vogue with the supercharged V6 across it, marking a world first. Granted, the latest Range Rover isn't as heavy as it could be, thanks largely to its aluminum construction. But even so – and even with a V6 instead of a V8 or a diesel – we're still talking about the better part of 5,000 pounds of machinery here.
The feat was orchestrated by British artist Steve Messam in Suzhou, China – a city already famous for its bridges and known as "Venice of the East." It wasn't the first eye-raising feat pulled off in a Range Rover, and it surely won't be the last. But it's an impressive one nonetheless, and you can check it out in the video above.
- Land Rover celebrates 45 years of Range Rover with creative collaboration
- Luxury SUV completes world-first drive across one-off paper bridge
- Partnership with world-renowned British artist Steve Messam and specialist British paper manufacturer James Cropper PLC to build unique installation
- Intelligent 4WD all-terrain technology and lightweight aluminium construction of flagship model makes unique drive possible
- One-off art project kicks off Range Rover 45th Anniversary celebrations at Guangzhou Motor Show
Guangzhou, China, 19 November 2015 – 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 4x4 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 lightweight aluminium 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 1mph to 19mph 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 vehicle out of deep sand.
Nick Rogers, Director Group Engineering, Jaguar Land Rover, said: "China is an important market for Range Rover, so we have picked the perfect place to celebrate 45 years of our luxury SUV family. Range Rover's advanced lightweight body and peerless all-terrain capability were crucial factors in making this unique drive possible."
Artist and paper bridge designer, Steve Messam, said: "Paper structures capable of supporting people have been built before but nothing on this scale has ever been attempted. 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."
Range Rover is the ultimate luxury SUV and combines sophisticated exterior design with class-leading all-terrain capability and exquisite interior refinement.