Land Rover Freelander 2 SD4 HSE13 | 06 | 2011Scotcars rating

    Land Rover ensures the latest Freelander delivers the goods both on- and offroad


    It’s often said that we don’t appreciate what we’ve got until we lose it, whether it’s fresh air, beautiful countryside or even a steady job. The same could be said for some of our car models and companies which have disappeared over the years. It’s true that some were so bad we were glad to see the back of them (did I hear someone mention the names BMC and Marina, Hillman and Avenger, and Alfasud?) while others have struggled along from crisis to crisis, changing hands quicker than pass-the-parcel at a bomb disposal team night out.

    Land Rover is a case in point. Alongside Jeep, it is the oldest four-wheel-drive brand in the world, and like Hoover has become the by-word and recognised term for the ultimate offroader. The fact it is still with us is quite remarkable and more than a little due to the loyalty and resilience of Land Rover owners over the years, who’ve had to endure poor reliability and questionable build quality from a variety of owners; from the original Rover Company to Leyland and BMC, then British Aerospace, BMW and Ford up to its current Indian parent group, Tata Motors.

    It has taken foreign eyes to really appreciate just what a fantastic brand Land Rover is – and along with their parallel ownership of Jaguar – are making the most of it to produce quality models worthy of the historic name. From the basic Series One, which was just a short step up from a tractor, Land Rover has developed over the subsequent 63 years to represent 'go anywhere' transport, whether it be the luxury and executive level of the Range Rover or the ruggedness of the Defender. In between there’s the Discovery and its wee brother the Freelander, and under Indian control, the baby of the bunch has never been better.  

    On the road

    The test car was the top of the range SD4 HSE automatic with the latest  exterior look of updated front bumper assembly, interior layout tweaks and an upgraded diesel engine to give stronger performance and improved efficiency. It’s also quieter, which makes it more pleasant than the old power unit which always sounded a little too clanky for my liking. There’s more torque too, which makes it a great car for towing and getting the most from those potentially tricky excursions into the brown stuff.

    At the same time, in common with the current theme, CO2 emissions have also been cut along with an improvement in economy to a claimed 40+ on the combined cycle. It is very capable offroad, but I wonder just how many Freelander owners actually venture away from the tarmac and even think about using the Hill Descent Control, the variable tricky conditions knob or the fact that it has a wading depth of 500mm?

    Surely if they were doing serious stuff, they’d go for either the Defender or Discovery, which is probably why Land Rover is offering the Freelander for the first time in a two-wheel-drive version to provide all the benefits of the traditional vehicle, such as improved visibility and feeling of sturdiness without the unnecessary traction ability. 

    Comfort & Safety

    The test car was in HSE spec so came with a good range of luxury fittings including cream leather upholstery, but even then had almost £3000 of extras which pushed the price tag up to just under £40k and I had to think that for that sort of money, I’d like something more than the bottom of the Land Rover range, even if it did have a luxury feel about it.

    Frankly, for several thousand pounds less, I’d be inclined to go for the more significant Discovery and miss out on some of the features which I probably wouldn’t use anyway. It was comfortable and effortless, but again Land Rover still doesn't seem to have mastered the build quality techniques and standards which are now facts of life for the Japanese and Korean competition.

    For example, the automatically folding door mirrors are very handy, but the ones on the test car creaked as they tucked themselves away and I had the nagging feeling that they may just give up the ghost prematurely – something which you just don’t get with Mazdas, Kias, Toyotas or Nissans.     

    Should you buy one?

    The name Land Rover still means a lot – but there are plenty of alternatives at a much lower price.

    Alan Douglas

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £36,245 / £39,220
    Engine / Power: 2179cc SD4 turbo diesel / 190PS
    How fast?: 0-62mph 9.5secs,  Max 118mph
    How big/heavy?: H1740mm W2195mm L4500mm / 1805kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 40.4mpg / CO2 185g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: 26 / Band I £200
    Alternatives: BMW X3; Audi Q5; Volvo XC60; Kia Sportage; Ford Kuga

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