New Land Rover Freelander is bigger, more powerful and heading for No1
LAND ROVER’S tremendous growth in Scotland is set to continue with the launch of the new Freelander which is bigger and more powerful than its best-selling predecessor. The second generation may be just 2in longer, but that figure disguises the true benefit because there’s no longer an external spare wheel meaning the f ull extra length is attributed to cabin room. As a result, the tailgate now opens upwards instead of being side-hinged.
Another significant change in the new range is that all models will have five doors; there’s no three-door model.
The cabin is 15% larger and the boot has grown by 38% making it best-in-class – with comfortable room for three adults in the back row of seats.
Enhanced by the optional panoramic sunroof, the cabin is a posher place with softer materials and a design which is less cluttered. It’s also packed with active and passive safety features, including seven airbags.
The switchgear is simple, practical and large, all of which makes navigating the main knobs, levers and dials straightforward.
Pushed-back A-pillars allow a good view around corners and the wing mirrors cleverly tilt inwards and downwards when you select reverse.
Externally Freelander 2 borrows a number of design cues from the larger Range Rover Sport. Like all Land Rovers it is fitted with permanent four-wheel-drive and, apart from the entry-level model, the newcomer is also fitted with with Terrain Response borrowed from Discovery 3.
This is controlled via a large rotary knob by the gear lever and helps tailor the traction to the surface. There is a normal setting, plus variations for grass/gravel/snow, for mud and ruts and even for sand.
The newcomer certainly maintains Land Rover’s imperious reputation for being the leading 4x4 in the world.
Freelander 2 is a big and imposing piece of kit but get it out on to the road and its bulk is admirably disguised through a clever combination of class-leading ride and handling. Boasting near 50:50 front-rear weight distribution, the chassis displays great balance.
Two power plants are available from launch date on December 7. The 3.2-litre, 230bhp straight-six petrol engine will account for only around 5% of sales in the UK, with the vast majority – expected to be closer to 98% in Scotland – opting for the silky-smooth 2.2litre, 158bhp, four-cylinder turbodiesel. It hits 62mph from standstill in 10.9secs, has a top speed of 112mph and is good for 37.7mpg on the combined cycle.
The 3.2-litre is mated to a new automatic gearbox with manual override, but diesel buyers are initially restricted to a six-speed manual because the diesel auto doesn’t arrive until spring next year.
Prices, as you would expect, are higher – around £2000 up on the current model – but buyers are getting a far superior, and mature, package for their money.
The range starts at £20,935 for the entrylevel TD4 S and rises to £33,990 for the 3.2 i6 (in-line six-cylinder) HSE. The best-selling model is expected to be the TD4 HSE costing £30,935. At £28,484, the slightly lower-specced TD4 SE may well buck the UK trend in Scotland by grabbing the No 1 sales slot and re-establishing itself as the leader of the compact 4x4 pack.