Then it was time to hit the rough stuff in the most fuel-efficient car that Land Rover has ever made. Admittedly the 2WD SUV needed much more coaxing, and occasionally it lost traction, but the lighter car still has an abundant 310lb ft (15lb ft more than the outgoing model) of torque, all of which helped the front-wheel drive car even plough through the water obstacle without missing a beat. The eD4 is still very much a Land Rover and has the same underbody protection, sump guard and great ground clearance as the 4WD model.
Of course, for the vast majority of buyers in the compact SUV market, such information is of little interest, as few cars ever make it that far off tarmac. Of more importance will be that the new eD4 manages 47.2mpg and only emits 158g/km of CO2.
The Freelander’s improved stop-start system helps contribute to this figure, and thanks to a bi-directional crank sensor and trigger wheel the system is able to establish the crankshaft position quicker, helping the car’s engine fire-up with 30 per cent better efficiency.
On the outside changes to the 2011 are pretty subtle. A new front bumper assembly gives the car a more planted look, and there’s a new front grille, too, which is available in either a dark or light finish. Headlamps are improved while the rear lights have a clear inner lens.
Inside not much has changed, there’s some new fascia finishes which help improve the cabin’s premium feel, but there’s still an expanse of hard plastics and much of the switchgear has a utilitarian feel to it.
On the road, the new engine’s Improved economy hasn’t affected performance, though, as the entry-level engine’s 0-60mph time remains at 10.9 seconds and on our short test drive the front-drive car handled and rode well on the Spanish roads. Steering was accurate and well balanced, but it still feels noisy at motorway speeds and its grip doesn’t seem diminished by only having front-wheel power; at lower speeds the 2WD seemed quicker to turn in.
Should I buy one?
Times are changing, Minis are no longer mini and come with all-wheel drive, while Land Rovers are fuel efficient but with only two-wheel power. It’s a confusing market place, and the new Freelander has lots of rivals.
An HSE trim eD4 will mean it has to compete with the X3, but BMW manages to make its all-wheel drive xDrive20d SE produce less CO2 and perform better at the pumps than the 2WD Land Rover.
A more entry-level Freelander has it competing with a 2WD Ford Kuga, or even the well-equipped and budget-priced Kia Sportage. But for some buyers it’s the Land Rover badge that they want on the front of their SUV, and in the eD4 the marque’s engineers still have an off-road car they can be proud of.
Land Rover Freelander 2.2 eD4 150 HSE 2WD
Price: from £22,000; Top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: 10.9sec; Economy: 47.2mpg; CO2: 158g/km; Kerb weight: 1710kg; Engine type: 4 cyls, 2179cc , turbodiesel; Power: 148bhp; Torque: 310lb ft; Gearbox: 6-spd manual
See all the latest Land Rover reviews, news and video