The new Range Rover finally made its debut last night in a glittering ceremony at the Royal Ballet School in London's Richmond Park.

All the people who created it were there – JLR's chief executive Dr Ralf Speth, the engineering and design chiefs, many of the technicians who built and tested the prototypes over four years and hundreds of thousands of miles, across the world.

The new model, driven by David Sneath, boss of Land Rover Experience, appeared on the far side of a wide pool, turned left towards the audience and drove across a fearsome looking collection of 'rocks' that appeared from below the surface of the pool, then down a ramp to park. Safe to say no car has ever had such a spectacular or risk-defying debut.

From first appearance, nobody doubted this was a new Range Rover; the totality of the styling leaves you in no doubt. Yet in detail – lights, wheels, surfaces, windows, grille – it is entirely different, with fresh new modern proportions.

Land Rover bosses make no secret of their plan to move the model upmarket (while leaving the entry price around £70k) and the new model's almost Rolls-like grace makes this this the car to do it.

Deliveries to the first UK customers won't start until Christmas, but Ralf Speth says demand from customers is already "very strong" and dealers report very large order banks. No-one would bet against another big-time Range Rover success.