It's official: Land Rover has created a new niche, and a booming one at that. It's no small compliment when car making's big boys start dancing to your tune, and at this year's Frankfurt motor show, Land Rover enjoyed that spectacle with the unstoppable rise of the style-led SUV.
Smothering the practicality, elevation and verge-nibbling talents of an SUV with designer togs seems like a simple enough concept, but it was Land Rover that got it done. The Range Rover Evoque is doing what the Renault Espace did decades earlier by blazing a trail for others to follow - that's why the phrase 'Evoque-rivalling' has been applied to myriad production cars, concepts and product plans across Frankfurt's halls this year.
Closest in size to the Evoque and potentially its closest rival is the Mercedes-Benz GLA that's due on sale in December. It's the clear leader in the race to be second, as it's the only one you'll be able to buy any time soon.
BMW's X4 is in testing, but I reckon it lacks the visual bite to take a chunk from the Evoque (which is the same reason the VW Tiguan and Audi Q3 aren't at the races either in my book). The Porsche Macan is also currently being put through its pre-production paces; it mightn't sport the most adventurous design, but a Porsche has to look like a Porsche.
Premium-brand concepts hoping to yield a competitor are Jaguar's C-X17 (which has the advantage of JLR inside information) and Lexus's Klingon commuter, the LF-NX (yes, they're saying the production car really could look that wild).
Both are 300-400mm longer than the Evoque, but proportion lends them the same stance. Chinese manufacturer Chang'an showed the CS95, which is a full metre longer than the Evoque, but the intended visual connections are obvious there, too.
Volvo would be also on the case with an XC40 if it had a suitable platform - certainly its Concept Coupé demonstrated the company's design direction is cued up for such a car - and Skoda design boss Josef Kaban says the company's future SUVs, both compact and full-size, will look "more provocative" than its other cars.
Management flapdoodle says 'the leading edge is the bleeding edge', but the flip side is that innovators can also end up being both original and best. And in this new niche where aesthetics are law, I haven't seen anything to challenge the baby Rangie yet.