FREE but DEAR
The latest Freelander is no longer invisible, writes Neil Dowling
THE accidental environmentalist has taken a bit of a fall, as new SUV buyers start putting their families first. And that plays right into Land Rover’s hands, says Jaguar Land Rover Asia-Pacific managing director David Blackhall.
While launching the new baby Land Rover— the Freelander — Blackhall says it’s a greener world, ‘‘but in the luxury SUV sector we are scrambling for product’’.
‘‘We could have sold several hundred more Range Rovers last year,’’ he laments.
All this augurs well for a push to re-establish the Freelander 2, which has been the forgotten Land Rover.
The chiselled four-door wagon, built on a similar platform to the Volvo XC60, has been almost invisible on the Australian market.
A lot of that has to do with its noisier competitors as well as the Freelander’s seemingly expensive price.
Though the Volvo-sourced 3.2-litre in-line petrol six is keen, the Freelander has never really rated in terms of performance. Its diesels have appeared too weak to satisfy powerhungry, leisure-oriented buyers. This week, part of that changed. The good news is the expansion of the Freelander model line-up to seven from five, more powerful diesels and pricing from $44,990 for the TD4.
IT IS not cheap. The Freelander range now falls into line with Volvo and the BMW X3, and it does not meet the value-for-money offerings of the South Koreans and some Japanese.
The entry-level $44,990 TD4 is a manualgearbox 110kW diesel (the smaller of two oilier engines) with a high level of safety but with a simple exterior and some high-end convenience fittings missing from the cabin.
Better value is in the TD4 (110kW diesel) at $55,310.
This model has heaps of cabin features, big alloy wheels, top-class leather and a six-speed sequential automatic transmission.
The 140kW diesel is available in two trim levels, but will cost $1500 for the extra 30kW (the two engines share 420Nm of torque) and basically isn’t worth it.
Land Rover says its petrol versions are $49,990 for the XS and $55,310 for the SE.
There’s also a heavyweight ‘‘premium luxury package’’ that takes the diesel’s price to a heady $72,740 and adds 19-inch alloys, sunroofs, better