The Range Rover Sport's Hill Descent Control worked flawlessly during a test on the landing area for a ski jump.
LUCA CIFERRI

A Range Rover, a ski jump and a leap of faith

Luca Ciferri is Editor of Automotive News Europe.
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Regardless of your trust level for technology, sometimes you’ve got to relinquish complete control to a silicon brain. My experience took place in an expensive new Range Rover Sport on the ridiculously steep landing area for a ski jump in Germany’s Black Forest.

To get a full appreciation of the 100,000-euro-plus SUV’s Hill Descent Control, my Turkish co-driver and I were sent down the slope. We were told to just steer the car to make sure we stayed in the center of the tract. The technology would take care of the rest.

No problem, right? Wrong!

As you start your descent at an electronically controlled 10 kph, giving your full trust to the electronics, you experience an overwhelming desire to say, “No thanks,” then brake and drive back in reverse.

Since you’re a professional, you just keep driving.

The slope is so steep that all your body weight is dropped into the seat belt. You just hang there; you can barely move your arms. In such a position a lot of blood rushes to the brain, which caused me to wonder: If the electronics fail, how the heck am I going to stop this 2.5-ton beast from going out of control?

My next thought was: I know I am supposed to do this, but why the hell did I say yes?!

Then the brain had a more calming thought: Why am I worrying so much, I can’t be the first person to try this.

By this time we had safely concluded the journey.

Would I do this again? Absolutely, but definitely not on my skies.

You can reach Luca Ciferri at lciferri@crain.com.

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