The first Land Rover Freelander won’t be remembered as the pinnacle of reliability, to put it mildly. The Freelander II, launched in 2007, was an altogether different matter. Stylish, capable and ahead of the competitive softroader pack in many ways, it earned grudging admiration for its off-road ability and its on-road coolness.The newly launched 2011 models are really just upgrades of this, for there was very little about the second-generation car that needed fixing.There have been a few styling changes – new colours, different alloy rims, a new bumper here, a different grille there. The diesel engines have been tweaked too, with buyers now being able to choose between 110kW TD4 and 140kW SD4 variants on the same theme, while the line-up also still includes the six-cylinder 3.2 litre petrol version, in luxury trim (HSE) only.INSIDEHop into the cabin of the Freelander II SD4 HSE and you feel an urge to start speaking posh English. It is understated and very classy.The ergonomics are good, with most controls being easy to fathom. The seats have been restyled and there arethree trim levels: S, SE and HSE, with the 140kW SD4 offering a choice of all and the 110kW TD4 coming in the base S version only.The HSE spec we drove and the SE spec come with six-way electric seat adjustment for the driver (four-way for the passenger) and classy two-tone leather upholstery with handy folding armrests. The “less expensive” S model has cloth trim and manual adjustment.The accommodation in the Freelander II HSE is comfortable with loads of leg and headroom.UNDER THE SKIN:Where Land Rover originally offered a 171kW V6 engine or a 118kW turbodiesel in the Freelander II, they’ve now come up with two variations on the diesel theme. In TD4 guise the 2.2 litre diesel now produces 110kW of power, but makes up for the reduced power by generating 420Nm of torque – that’s up 20Nm from the 2010 model.The SD4 variant makes 140kW and the same 420Nm of torque as its sibling, but is a little thirstier.The lower-powered TD4 comes only with a 6-speed manual gearbox while the 140kW SD4 uses a six-speed auto.Through the excellent Terrain Response system, electronics adjust engine power and torque characteristics, while the gearbox adjusts the shift points to an appropriate engine speed range.The drive:There’s a fair bit more body roll than you’d get from a sporty sedan, but that 3-Series or Jaguar XF isn’t even going to make it to the bottom border post, never mind get you and your family up Sani Pass, is it?Off-road, the standard big wheels (18 and 19”) with their relatively low-profile tyres are a bad idea for dirt roads, but replacing them with something a little more suitable will give you a classy 4x4 with excellent tar- and dirt-road capability and pretty fair off-road performance even in places it shouldn’t really venture.OVERALLThe Land Rover Freelander II is still arguably the finest softroader available, but it comes at a price. At anything between R384995 and R489995 you’re paying a lot for it, but when you drive it you appreciate the fact that it’s now much closer to the Discovery than to the forgettable vehicle it grew from.KEY STATS:Engine: 2179 cc in-line four-cylinder turbodiesel, common-rail injection, Power: 140kW@ 3500 rpm, 420Nm@1750 rpmTransmission: Six-speed automatic, full-time four-wheel drive, Haldex rear-axle differentialPrice: R489 995WE LIKE... * The classy styling. * Ride quality. * Lovely diesel engine. * On- and off-road versatility.YES BUT...It’s expensive!Competitors:BMW X3, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Forester, Kia SorentoDrive Out Says:It’ll remain a favourite with the mink-and-manure set. If you can afford it, why not?