When BMW began work on the landmark MK3 Range Rover, it was overseen by company Research and Development boss Wolfgang Reitzle. Reitzle made an unexpected exit from BMW in 1999, but was immediately re-hired by Ford. When the Ford bought Land Rover from BMW in 2000, Reitzle was parachuted back into the British carmaker to oversee the launch of his beloved Range Rover project. With a new vehicle very much at the top end of the market, Reitzle reckoned there was room for another Range Rover branded vehicle in the Land Rover family. And while the MK2 Range Rover did not have the best reputation for reliability, but it was comparatively compact and handily sized for a luxury SUV. Reitzle figured that a very similar vehicle, which would slot between the Discovery and the new, should replace the MK2 RR, more upscale, Range Rover. Immediately dubbed the baby Range Rover the new car was to be based on the all new T5 chassis was being developed by Land Rover engineers. In essence, the styling of the new vehicle was very close to that of the outgoing MK2 Range Rover. However, at some point in the development process the project took and unexpected turn.
Possibly influenced by the immediate success of Porsche’s 2002 Cayenne, the new project morphed into the Range Rover Sport, a large SUV with an emphasis on high performance. Land Rover shocked the automotive world by showing the Range Stormer concept (the first in the company’s history) in 2004, giving the first clues as the new engineering direction. Although many couldn’t believe a company, which placed so much emphasis on off road ability, would build a road biased vehicle with option of a very powerful supercharged V8 engine. However, the Range Rover Sport was an immediate smash hit, outselling the Range Rover itself.