Land Rover has introduced a sub-160g/km Freelander that is also the 4×4 specialist’s first two-wheel drive car.

The Freelander 2 2WD went on sale from January this year, and in 2.2-litre 150hp diesel manual form emits 158g/km of CO2 and delivers 47.2mpg.

“The new Freelander 2 eD4 moves Land Rover into the hugely popular and fiercely contested two-wheel drive SUV market,” says Land Rover UK MD Colin Green. “The European market for two-wheel drive SUVs represents 23% of the segment and we intend to compete strongly here.”

Land Rover says there are many people that want an SUV-type vehicle for attributes such as a high driving position, or in its case, the brand prestige, but do not need a 4×4.

However, the firm is keen to stress that the 2WD version still has capabilities in off-road conditions, thanks to being built on the same platform as the 4WD iterations.

The 2WD model comes as part of a range refresh that includes a new front bumper, reworked grille and halogen headlamps. There are also new alloy wheel options and three new colour choices. There are four trims, with the mid range GS and XS being the most popular for fleet.

On the road, the Freelander 2WD is unexpectedly pleasant, with excellent handling and steering. It’s also surprisingly nimble for its stature.

The interior, which previously has felt utilitarian, is more lush and comfortable. The carmaker has revised the instrument dials and there are four new Seat styles too.

But it’s a tough sector, and up against the BMW X1, priced slightly below the Freelander (£24,100 compared with £24,785), the Landie loses out on emissions and RVs. The X1 sDrive 18d SE costs 54.7p per mile versus the tested car’s 60.0p.

Still, those lusting after a Land Rover should be excited by the arrival of this 2WD. It’s impressive and will quiet those insisting on sub-160g/km options.

Land Rover Freelander 2
2.2 eD4 GS dr 6-sp manual
P11D price £24,785
Model price range £21,995-£36,245
Fuel consumption 47.2mpg
CO2 (tax) 158g/km/(23%)
BIK 20/40% per month £95/£190
Service interval 15,000mls
Insurance group 21
Warranty 3yrs/unlimited mls
Boot space (min/max) 755/1670 litres
Engine size/power 2179cc/150hp
Top speed/0-62mph 112mph/11.7secs
On sale January 2011
Score 8/10
Verdict A welcome arrival
to the sub-160g
SUV market