It’s a dirty lit­tle lux­ury

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By NEIL DOWL­ING

PART of the dream of own­ing an SUV is its com­mand­ing driv­ing po­si­tion that gives you un­par­al­leled vi­sion over lesser traf­fic.

The other part is tak­ing the kids to see the real Aus­tralia, via Birdsville.

I was con­tem­plat­ing the virtues of the high driv­ing po­si­tion while sitting in Land Rover’s de­light­ful Free­lander 2, wait­ing to turn left at a T-junc­tion.

Along­side me, turn­ing right, was an­other SUV. Which blocked my view so I had to wait for him to go. Com­mand­ing view? Dream on. But that aside, this miniLandie is a gem. VALUE

It falls into the lux­ury SUV cat­e­gory and that tells you it’s not a cheapie. At about $55,000, it’s a big ask un­til you com­pare it with its nat­u­ral ri­vals. The Free­lander 2 starts at $44,990 for the turbo-diesel TD4 ver­sion, runs through two petrol mod­els (priced from $49,990) and tops out at $65,584 for the deluxe diesel. DE­SIGN

It’s a very func­tional de­sign that max­imises cabin space while mak­ing it com­pact on the out­side and nim­ble enough for city du­ties. The cabin is clean, sim­ple and stylish. TECH­NOL­OGY

This is a con­stant

all- wheel drive wagon driven by an en­joy­able 2.2-litre turbo-diesel. The clever bits in­clude the ter­rain re­sponse sys­tem con­trolled by a switch set on the con­sole.

The diesel comes as a 110kW or 140kW (marked as TD4 or SD4). Torque re- mains at a strong 420Nm for both and is the key for the SUV’s brisk man­ners. SAFETY

Like its pre­de­ces­sor the mini-Landie gets a 5-star crash rat­ing, six airbags and all the aids in­clud­ing elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol. DRIV­ING

It’s quick, re­spon­sive, quiet and com­fort­able and feels more like a small car.

The cabin is quite com­pact — though it seats four adults with plenty of room — which per­fectly suits small fam­i­lies or couples. VER­DICT

This is one of the best SUVs in all classes on the mar­ket. It does ev­ery­thing right. But de­spite its lux­ury cat­e­gory, shop­pers can go out­side this frame­work and pick up sim­i­larly equipped SUVs for a lot less money.

The Land Rover Free­lander 2 takes prac­ti­cal­ity to a lux­u­ri­ous level

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