04 August 2010

Freelander goes FWD

Land Rover announces two-wheel-drive ‘eco’ Freelander to arrive next year. Arr, ’tis blasphemy, say we

Freelander goes FWD

Gah, the sacrilege! The desecration! The Land Rover Freelander has gone two-wheel drive!

At least, it will go two-wheel drive. Next year, the greener ‘eD4' Freelander will go on sale, offering 47.2mpg and 158g/km of CO2 thanks to a more efficient 2.2-litre turbodiesel sending power to the front wheels alone.

This, we realise, will cause some consternation among the Land Rover standpats. Finding out the Evoque - the new baby Rangie - would be FWD was bad enough, but at least that was a fey, modish crossover for city types with their ciabattas and lattes. But the Freelander? The good, honest, mudplugging Freelander? How dare they?

Because it makes business sense. Twenty-three per cent of SUVs sold in Europe are two-wheel drive, and Land Rover wants a chunk of that chunk of pie. And besides, don't panic: you'll still be able to get your Freelander in four-wheel-drive flavour if you so desire, with the revised diesel putting out either 147bhp or 187bhp with a bit of extra torque for good measure.

Available next month in four-wheel-drive guise, with the front-drive version following next January, the Freelander gets a gentle facelift and a couple of new colours.

But we fear it's the whole two-wheel-drive thing that'll cause rural rioting. Is it smart business or sordid blasphemy, TopGeareans?  

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