What is it?
Land Rover seems to be on to a good thing with this, its latest version of the Freelander 2.
It's not enough to deliver better fuel economy and lower emissions these days. Buyers want more poke as well. The revised 2.2-litre turbodiesel in this model offers more power and torque than the old spec, at the same time meeting Euro 5 emissions standards and improving its CO2 and economy figures.
The new motor is available in two states of tune: TD4, which has 148bhp and comes with a manual gearbox (an auto is a £1515 option), or the SD4, tested here, which has 187bhp and is available with the six-speed automatic transmission only.
In this range-topping HSE trim, it will set you back an eye-watering £35,510. At that price, Land Rover will need to have improved the Freelander’s interior feel, fit and finish. For the most part that’s been achieved.
What's it like?
It’s a lot more Range Rover-like in there, in terms of dashboard architecture, and most of the materials used are of a higher quality than before (HSE brings swish leather, which adds to the luxury).
Some of the bits you actually touch – switchgear for the heater controls and the stereo – remain oddly chunky and plasticky, mind you, so this still feels like a cabin built for hard use more than plush cruising.
On the road, the new motor pulls strongly from low revs, while the six-speed auto shifts smoothly and avoids clumsy moments.
The powertrain isn’t exactly quiet, though; BMW’s X3 xDrive20d, the SD4’s rival on price and performance, would be a bit more refined through the rev range. Once you’re up to speed, though, the Freelander’s engine fades into the background; it’s a decent motorway cruiser.
The chassis set-up feels little changed – which is to say that it’s comfortable and composed, albeit with steering that’s quite aggressive around the straight ahead. And the Freelander’s trump card – its class-leading off-road ability – is still at the core of the package.