Perennially popular, and not just with the ladies, this compact tough-nut’s versatility and classic looks continues to notch up awards across the globe and it still trounces rivals in terms of sales and sheer class. The latest model launched the end of 2010 enjoys a cracking new 2.2-litre diesel engine available with either 150PS or 190PS outputs, a bolder exterior and a cabin and dash re-fresh, plus a new option pack.
The latest Freelander has been visually beefed up, thanks to a bold new front bumper – housing new front fog laps, a new front grille finish, attractive head and rear lights, new full width tailgate appliqué and new 18/19-inch alloy wheel styles. There are also three new colour schemes to choose from: Kosrae Green, Baltic Blue and Fuji White – Which will hopefully deter the usual choice of olive green buyers seem to love.
Slip inside and the changes are subtler, yet still effective. You’ll spot new seats and instrument dials, and there’s an option of a Premium Pack that includes an 8/6 way electric seat and leather upholstery, together with upgraded carpet mats and covered centre stowage. Even as standard, the base model gets air-conditioning, a CD player plus alloy wheels. The next trim up – GS, adds Land Rover’s excellent Terrain Response system, cruise control and rear parking sensors. On to the XS spec – expect sat nav, electric front seats and an upgraded stereo completing a pleasant little package. Finally the all singing, all dancing HSE spec, which inclues all of the above and means full leather throughout and upgraded 18” alloys.
The Freelander is pretty tight in terms of rear legroom, although headroom’s okay unless you’re of basketball player proportions – but if it’s space you’re after If you’re after, pay the extra and opt for the Discovery. Sitting in the front, the Freelander’s a great place to be though, bright and airy with everything to hand and extremely good visibility thanks to a command driving position and acres of glass front and rear. Plenty of seat adjustments means achieving a decent driving position is child’s play, and everything looks and feels solid, practical and build to last. Apart from rear legroom, the only other real draw back is the size and height of the Freelander’s boot, which compares unfavourably to some of its newer rivals, however the seats do split, which is a bonus for carrying those longer items.
In terms of safety, there’s an ample amount of driving aids and equipment including twin front, side and curtain airbags and stability control all fitted as standard, plus a knee protecting airbag housed under the steering column.
The Freelander 2’s available with a new well received upgraded diesel engine with either 150PS or 190PS, giving stronger performance and improved efficiency throughout the range. The 2.2-litre 150PS TD4 manual has improved power-wise by 8% to 165g/km and fuel economy increased by 9% to 45.6mpg. And the 2.2-litre 150PS TD4 and 190 PS SD4 automatics show a 14% drop in emissions to 185g/km and a 14% increase in fuel economy to 40.4mpg. Should you opt for the frugal eD4 model you’ll receive a commendable 47.2mpg and emit just 158g/km of CO2. There’s also improved intelligent Stop/Start technology as standard on manual models, for that extra eco-boost.
Compared to some new rivals, the Freelander 2’s slightly compromised in some areas on the road, although undoubtedly trounces them off-piste. Its boxy shape seems to generate a significant amount of really intrusive wind noise, particularly at speed, whilst apart from an acoustic onslaught, it sweeps along the motorway nicely, ironing out most of the ruts and bumps, however on winding roads there is still some annoying lean to correct. A word of personal advise would be to opt for the models that feature Land Rover’s excellent Terrain Response system, twin that with 4wd for its all-weather/surface capability, and you have yourself a very capable piece of kit.
The Freelander is more expensive still than most of its rivals, but residuals are definitely in its favour, reliant on the kudos of the Land Rover badge, a car that will get out of trouble and keep you on the go should the bad weather really kick in again. Looking a little out dated now maybe compared to the sleek if squashed looking Evoque, but still a desirable classic ‘can do’ car, perfect for most everyday use, and the occasional city safari.