Free­lander 1

LRO (UK) - - Buying Bargain Land Rovers -

The Fee­lander 1 has en­joyed a rather mixed press for many years; it’s very much a Mar­mite model. But talk to any­one who ac­tu­ally owns one and you’ll al­most cer­tainly get a clear and pos­i­tive re­sponse. Af­ter two years of own­er­ship I’m happy to re­port that I’ve been very pleas­antly sur­prised by how well my 1999 1.8 petrol three-door has served me so far.

The big­gest sur­prise is how much fun they are to drive – the en­gine is fairly lively and the high seat­ing po­si­tion gives a great view all round. The boot is big enough for weekly shops, and if you fold the rear seats for­ward you get a large cargo area mak­ing haul­ing rub­bish to the tip, or car­ry­ing a cou­ple of bikes se­curely, a dod­dle.

Yes, they do break down a bit. For­tu­nately, mine’s only done it once in over 12,000 miles – not bad go­ing for a £1250 4x4, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the fun it’s given me on var­i­ous off-road pho­to­shoots and trips.

Which model is best buy?

There’s no deny­ing that they are ridicu­lously cheap to buy, es­pe­cially the ear­lier, pre-facelift 1.8 petrol mod­els. But by far the best model to own is a late Td4 HSE auto. You get a stronger en­gine, and bet­ter fuel econ­omy and re­li­a­bil­ity, and with an auto you avoid the worry of burn­ing out clutches off-road.

Fact­box ● Price range £800-£4500 ● What you get The most car­like Land Rover. Easy to drive on the road, and sur­pris­ingly ca­pa­ble off the beaten track ● Pick of the bunch 2003-on facelift Td4 auto in either SE or HSE trim. 2006 mod­els have higher an­nual VED. Bud­get £3k

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