The all-new Range Rover Sport is at once Land Rover's riskiest model to replace, and one of its simplest.

It was a risk because even towards the end of its life it has sold remarkably strongly; it's the easiest because of the arrival the new, all-aluminium Range Rover flagship.

The new Range Rover made huge gains in styling sophistication and weight reduction (up to 420kg), and it soon became obvious that the same would be possible in a slightly smaller, lower and sportier SUV that shared the same up-to-date underpinnings instead of using the tough but less sophisticated twin-rail chassis from a Discovery.

When the new Range Rover was introduced, the almighty fanfare emitting from Gaydon must have been loud enough to rattle the factory windows in Solihull. Clearly it is an icon, but had the hullabaloo been dictated solely by a model’s impact on the firm’s sales sheet, the Sport’s launch would likely have been heard on the far side of the moon.

Unlike the Evoque, Land Rover didn't come up with the second best-selling Range Rover all on its own. By 2004, the company was desperate to compete with the new Porsche Cayenne, and showed its intent with the Range Stormer concept at the Detroit motor show.

The design statement swept the upright Range Rover profile back, and trimmed it into a striking coupé. The production version grew two more doors and more seats, but it retained enough of the look to satisfy the public's desire for a properly sporty British SUV.

It's also offered with a choice of a 288bhp 3.0-litre SDV6 turbodiesel, a 503bhp 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8 engine or a slightly lower-powered 255bhp 3.0-litre TDV6 model, in order to widen its appeal.

Moreover, in order to keep prices at reasonable levels, Land Rover has jettisoned its usual heavy-duty four-wheel drive system on the entry-level TDV6 model in favour of a lighter, less pricey and more economical alternative.

A proper Range Rover, then, or playing second fiddle to the best? Let’s find out.

Top 5 Sports SUVs

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    1
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  • The Range Rover Evoque Si4 costs from £41,000

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  • SQ5 is powered by the 309bhp, 479lb ft twin-turbo V6 diesel introduced in the A6

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  • The G63 replaces the old supercharged G55 as the most powerful, quickest and most expensive version of the venerable G-class 4x4

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