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Land Rover's incredible eco machine.

THE first two-wheel-drive Land Rover goes on sale in January signalling a significant change in strategy for the legendary off-road car maker.

Shifting focus from performance to economy will see the latest Freelander capable of averaging 47.1mpg - the most fuel efficient car in the company's 62 year history.

Driven only by the front wheels the Freelander eD4 becomes the eco-champion of the great British brand whose slogan is the Best 4x4 By Far.

Sceptics who said the shift would cause the new Land Rover to lose its all-terrain credentials can think again.

Not only is the new Freelander among the cleanest SUVs in the world with CO2 emissions down to 158g/km it is surprisingly capable off-road - although the driving technique is somewhat different.

With the rise in VAT to 20% the new Freelander will cost from around pounds 22,000 making it the cheapest Land Rover on the market, pounds 750 less than its 4x4 TD4 counterpart.

Performance figures for the two wheel drive Freelander are the same as the 4x4 with a 0 to 60 time of 11.6 seconds and top speed of 112mph but the drive is now more refined.

The eD4 is available only as a six-speed manual and comes with a stop/start system as standard.

Brake energy regeneration, which recharges the batteries once the throttle is lifted, is also fitted as a further eco device.

Although the eD4 is very much aimed at drivers who want to enjoy the feel and practicality of an SUV but who don't need to venture off-road, the new Freelander lacks little of Land Rover's heavy duty reputation.

There may be no low ratio gears, hill descent control or Land Rover's Terrain Response computerised drive system but there is some beefy traction control which is the eD4's secret weapon.

With its body and suspension the same as all other Freelanders, the two wheel drive is just as sturdy and has plenty of ground clearance.

Using maximum power in harsh conditions brings all the electronic traction sys-tems into play and the eD4 can pull across very rough terrain.

It has the same wading ability and can climb and descend rocky trails.

The eD4 will satisfy most people's off-road needs and has enough grunt to pull a two tonne braked trailer.

While the 4x4 versions remain the genuine article the newcomer is well placed to exploit the 23% of SUV buyers who go for two-wheel-drive models.

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The new 'clean' LandRover Freelander is surprisingly capable off-road
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 15, 2010
Words:418
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