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Freelander Road Test - by Jonathan Crouch of Autotrader


Since Its Most Recent Series Of Improvements, The Land Rover Freelander's Position In The Compact 4x4 Sector Has Been Strengthened. Jonathan Crouch Reports

When the going gets tough, you'd expect Land Rover to get going. Well without doubt, competition in the compact 4x4 sector is tough: and not for the first time, the Solihull company has responded in kind. Its class-leading Freelander was completely revamped in 2001 with an all-new and more potent diesel as well as a flagship petrol V6 unit. Plus there were styling changes and the option of a new Steptronic automatic gearbox. Since then, further improvements have been made, including a revised heating and ventilation system. Other tweaks include 3D badging, a variety of extra cupholders, a larger petrol tank for petrol models and the option of a factory-fitted satellite navigation system. Plenty for the competition to think about then - and sales have been boosted as a result, even if the entry-level 1.8-litre petrol unit has still continued unchanged: a power increase is needed here too, but we're not likely to see one for the time being.

Mind you, the basic recipe for Irish buyers is the same as it has always been, with a choice of hard and soft-top three-door body styles, plus a 5- door model. Nor has this car's status as the most capable compact 4x4 you can buy altered very much: if you plan to go seriously off road - even very occasionally - it's simply not worth even bothering with anything else in this sector. At one time, you paid heavily for that privilege but under new Ford ownership, Land Rover has woken up to a changing market and 'realigned' (read 'reduced') its prices. Expect to pay between 130,445 and 143,180 across a trim structure that ranges from S, through GS to ES.

Most Irish buyers decide against the 1.8 and 2.5-litre petrol units, instead opting for the BMW-sourced Td4 turbo diesel unit. This 2.0-litre 16- valve direct injection uses state-of-the-art common rail technology to develop 112PS: the result is a 15% increase in power and a 25% increase in torque over the feeble diesel unit it replaced. Low down pulling power (ideal for heavy off road work and urban use) is particularly impressive.

As for performance, well both of the latest engines are more impressive on the road than they are on paper - rest to sixty in 13.2s for the Td4 on the way to 102mph and 10.0s and 113mph for the V6. In the case of the V6, that's partly explained by Land Rover's insistance that this engine be matched with their five speed 'Steptronic' automatic gearbox (there's no manual option). This transmission, also on offer to diesel buyers, is basically the same rubber belt-driven CVT system already used by Rover's 25, 45 and MG TF models. It offers a choice of 'Normal' or 'Sport' operations as well as a 'Steptronic' mode where you can change up and down the 'box yourself.

In summary then, the most recent changes have represented a useful - and timely - series of improvements to a strong product. Tough competition will threaten Land Rover's dominant position in this sector over the next few years. At least the Freelander remains more than ready for it.
 

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Someone should make a removable cover like that for the disco, Perfect for narrow
trails when you don't want to scratch the paint ?

I have seen full truck covers in camo for full size pickups.
 
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