Land Rover's all-new Freelander 2 (LR2 in some markets) has broken cover. The compact SUV is the first full rework since Freelander was introduced in 1997 and the Freelander has been developed this time around with plenty of engineering input from within Ford's PAG. Freelander 2 is on Ford's generic 'EU CD' platform.

"No other compact 4x4 has anything like its total breadth of capability," says Phil Popham, Land Rover's managing director. "The Freelander 2 sets new standards in the sector, combining the advantages of a premium car - such as polished ride, accomplished performance, attractive cabin and ease-of-use - with the attributes of a robust 4x4, including go-anywhere ability, toughness, panoramic seating, cabin versatility and spaciousness. We believe that no other compact 4x4 gets closer to blending these best-of-both-worlds abilities."

Technical highlights of the Freelander 2 include two brand-new engines: a 3.2-litre straight-six petrol and a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel.

The exterior and interior design of Freelander 2 is completely fresh and Land Rover says the interior package of Freelander 2 is a major improvement over the outgoing vehicle. Although only 50 mm longer, the Freelander 2, LR says, has more generous head, shoulder and legroom, in both the front and rear.

Boot (trunk) space is 38% larger than that of the outgoing Freelander (with rear seats up - 755 litres vs 546 litres).

"We purposely kept strong cues from the original Freelander, such as the clamshell bonnet, stepped roof and the basic form," says Land Rover design director Geoff Upex. "But the overall look is new and much more contemporary. The design is chiselled, geometric and simple - it looks like it's hewn from the solid. We have kept a close design relationship with the new Discovery 3 and Range Rover Sport, but interpreted the design language to suit the requirements of customers for a more compact 4x4."

Land Rover says Freelander 2 is packed with new technologies to improve both on-road and off-road performance, including a new full-time intelligent 4x4 system for superior traction and better on-road fuel economy.

Women's tennis star Maria Sharapova was in London yesterday for a pre-Wimbledon Sony Ericsson Women's Tennis Association (SEWTA) party in Kensington, where she gave party guests and on-lookers a sneak preview of the new car.

Miss Sharapova is an official 'Land Rover ambassador' in North America, where she promotes the vehicles, and she currently uses a Range Rover at her home in the USA.

Speaking at the event, Miss Sharapova said: "I drive a Land Rover at my home in the USA.  Since I was 15 and first saw Land Rovers in the US I have admired their unique design and British-ness.  I currently have Range Rovers, but am a big fan of the new Freelander 2.  I love the fact I can use my i-Pod straight through its sound system, and I can get my coach, my dad, my agent and all my equipment in the car too."

The all-new Freelander 2 will appear at the British International Motor Show at the Excel exhibition centre in London's Docklands from 18 July 2006.

See also: UK: ANALYSIS: Freelander 2's engineering underpinnings