Land Rover announces 2011 Freelander 2

Land Rover has announced a series of mid-life updates for its popular Freelander 2. A more powerful 190 horsepower diesel engine will be added to the range but the most surprising change is that the Freelander 2 will be available from January next year with a two-wheel drive (2WD) system, rather than the usual 4x4 transmission.

In place of the single 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine option previously available, two different versions with different power outputs will now be available. One, badged TD4, produces 150 horsepower, while the other (SD4) produces 190, good enough for a top speed of 118mph and acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds.

TD4 versions are available with either a six-speed manual transmission or, at extra cost, a six-speed automatic, while the SD4 engine is always paired with an automatic. Both engine variants turn out 20 Newton metres of torque more than previous Freelander 2s, and produce less CO2 (165g/km in the case of the TD4 and 185g/km for the SD4 on four-wheel drive versions). All new Freelanders will meet tougher EU5 emissions regulations, instead of the EU4 standard as before.

Four-wheel drive versions of the revised Freelander 2 go on sale in late September but will be joined in January next year by a two-wheel drive version, the eD4. Powered by the 150 horsepower engine, the eD4 achieves 47.2mpg on the official combined cycle fuel consumption test and emits 158g/km of CO2. Like all other manual Freelander 2s, the eD4 has a fuel-saving stop-start system.

Land Rover had already announced that its forthcoming "baby Range Rover" Evoque model will be available with two-wheel drive, a move that was perhaps inevitable after new SUVs such as the BMW X1 and Kia Sorento and Sportage were offered with a 2WD option. However, the similarly-sized Freelander 2 is an ostensibly more rugged car, closer to Land Rover's core off-road tradition than the Evoque.

Two-wheel drive options have recently become popular because most owners don't take their SUVs off-road but still value their practical body shells and high driving positions. A 2WD drivetrain is lighter than a full 4x4 system and has fewer mechanical parts so two-wheel drive SUVs are cheaper to buy and run.

Among the other changes being made to the Freelander 2 for 2011 are external styling tweaks such as revised bumpers and light units, and improvements to the interior trim. Prices for 4WD versions range from £21,695 to £35,510. The price for the 2WD eD4 will be announced later.