New model re­lease:

The un­sung hero.

Land Rover AFRICA Magazine - - CONTENTS -

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.

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