New model release:
The unsung hero.
We take a closer look at the 2013 Freelander 2 and Defender (p.46).
How successful has Land Rover been at expanding the finer detail of its entry-level model without taking too much away from the off-road ruggedness that defines its brand as a whole? Land Rover AFRICA journalist Anton Pretorius finds out with the 2013 Freelander 2.
The right combination
Getting the right combination of raw off-road ability and driver comfort is what Land Rover strives towards with every new model built. Driver comfort and luxury is a key selling component for Land Rover. However, the British automaker still relies heavily on rugged capability to sell its vehicles, despite normal car-based foundations.
The predecessors of military-based vehicles such as Land Rover have proven their ability to tackle just about any terrain, whether it is desert, dirt, rock or rainforest. More recently, the brand has had to deal with the challenge of evolving its vehicles from battle-tested off-roaders to civilian-ready status symbols.
Aesthetics and interior
Focusing on the more traditional buyer, who is wary of the outright innovation of the Evoque, the 2013 Freelander 2 carries an old-school, boxy design very similar to the Range Rover or Discovery. The difference in design is only noticeable to those who pay attention to detail.
The 2013 Freelander 2 still utilises the proven Ford/Volvo EUCD chassis also shared with the Range Rover Evoque. Instead of discontinuing the existing model when the sleeker, more street-wise relative arrived, Land Rover incorporated most of the technology developed for the Evoque into the Freelander 2 model.
However, Freelander 2’s overall aesthetics features a slightly disconcerting seating arrangement. Pushing a command seating position for the front occupants and a stadium-style view for the rear passengers, it ends up feeling like you’re sitting too high inside the vehicle – which can only be lowered to a point that still feels unnecessarily high.
While such a lofty perch might be advantageous for visibility when negotiating off-road, in day-to-day driving, it feels unnecessarily tippy. The most obvious changes in aesthetics are the fresh headlights with unique new LED running lamps, and taillights with dual light pods that resemble figure-eight shapes when illuminated. Considering the design is already seven years old, Land Rover has done a fine job of preventing the Freelander 2 from looking boring or mundane.
Looking at the Freelander 2’s cabin, you really start to appreciate what it has to offer, ranging from top-notch materials to updated technology. The chunky Terrain Response knob has been replaced by simpler buttons, and the gauge cluster is cleaner, with a more informative, centrally located fiveinch display.
Another new feature is the standard seven-inch touchscreen display with Land Rover’s optional new ‘say what you see’ voice-controlled navigation system, as well as an interesting take on the maybe-soonto-be-standard rearview camera. Most backup cameras have trajectory lines that bend when you turn the wheel, but the Freelander 2’s optional camera displays a single line in the middle that it calls Hitch Assist, which is aptly named to help make hooking a trailer easier.
Engine and performance
Land Rover has ditched the heavy, Volvosourced 3.2-litre inline six-cylinder engine and replaced it with a lighter and more powerful turbo-charged 2.0-litre inline four cylinder engine found in the Evoque. The deletion of two cylinders helps drop 40 kg from the Freelander 2’s curb weight while adding 10 horsepower to the Freelander 2’s spec sheet.
The 177 kW petrol engine marks a key response to the changing demands of Freelander customers, replacing the 3.2 Si6 engine in the line-up locally. Producing 177 kW at 5 500 rpm the 2.0 Si4 turbocharged motor offers flexible delivery as well as weight and packaging advantages over the outgoing V6, thanks to its all-aluminium construction. This aids dynamic agility while bringing further reduced emissions and economic benefits.
Despite its small capacity, the 2.0 Si4 engine uses a low-inertia turbocharger that enables it to produce its high-specific power and torque outputs. The turbocharger is fed via a lightweight thin-walled exhaust manifold which allows for a shorter engine warm-up period and therefore lowers emissions still further. In order to provide the muscular usability characteristics required, chain-driven variable timing is applied to both the intake and exhaust valves to maximise the broad spread of torque, strong bottom-end performance and outstanding drivability.
Designed with the goal of enhanced efficiency, the engine features specialised coatings on the piston rings in order to reduce unwanted internal friction. This same thinking led to the adoption of very precise direct injection technology. Fuel is injected in measured doses several times during each combustion cycle to ensure the most efficient possible burn with the maximum benefit in terms of power generation and the lowest fuel consumption and emissions. Twin balancer shafts enhance refinement along with active engine mounts, an acoustic cover and the use of high density foam for additional sound deadening. In the Freelander 2 this engine is capable of accelerating to 100 km/h in 8.8 seconds and on to 200 km/h while at the same time achieving 9.6 litre per 100 km on the EU combined cycle and CO emissions of 224 g/km.
The Freelander 2’s new engine, styling and refinement is top-notch and very competitive in the market. While its off-road capabilities are probably more of a bonus than a major selling feature, this small utility’s appeal lies in its traditional Land Rover look and feel. With this model, Land Rover illustrates that “small,” “rugged,” and luxurious” are not mutually exclusive terms.