Strange to think that Jaguar and Land Rover nowadays share the same dynamics development team, and it must be hard for those steeped in the Jaguar way. But it’s good news for the new ‘Freelander 2’, based on the S-Max/S80/next-Mondeo platform, powered in the top model by a 229bhp Volvo straight-six, and built at Jaguar’s Halewood factory.
The new Freelander is wider and roomier, because corpulent Americans couldn’t get into the old one. It has a much classier cabin, albeit short of soft surfaces and design originality. And, as ever, it’s capable off-road, with Hill Descent Control and, now, Discovery-like Terrain Response.
We tried the potential better-seller, the 2.2-litre TD4 diesel with a 158bhp PSA engine. It’s quick, quiet and relaxed, with unexpectedly sharp steering and extraordinary understeer resistance. A firm ride is the acceptable payoff; at least it isn’t as choppy as an X3, whose upper price-point the top Freelanders now invade. A Freelander at £33K-plus? Amazing but true.