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Driven: 2013 Freelander
Freelander – isn’t that the rubbish one?
No. Well, not any more. Since Land Rover ditched the 1.8-litre K-series MGF engines of the first generation, it’s got progressively more luxurious. The new ‘un feels more like a baby Range Rover than plump Rover 75.
That’s me told. So what’s new?
Not very much. The perennial SUV’s got some fresh LED headlights, LED tail lights, and a slightly blingyer grill.
Really? That’s it?
On the outside. But the Freelander’s innards have been given a more aggressive makeover. The centre console’s been replaced, and the old Terrain Response dial’s been binned for the Evoque’s push-button pre-sets. Above them, there’s a new instrument cluster with a five-inch display that controls the voice-activated infotainment as well as the really rather good hitch assist function (it helps drivers line tow hooks up to trailers).
It is. There’s keyless go, an excellent Meridian sound system, three new colours and two new trim levels joining the current S, GS, XS, and HSE lineup - Dynamic and HSE Lux. The former’s largely inspired by the Evoque (it also has a Dynamic trim level) and includes painted gloss black 19-inch rims, a bodykit and gloss black trim outside. HSE Lux is top of the tree and gets Windsor leather chairs, thick carpet mats, piano-black lacquered finish inside, 19-inch diamond-cut alloys and a massive 825-watt 17-speaker audio system.
I don’t care about trim levels
Sorry. What about engines?
Yeah, I like them
Okey doke. They’re all existing stock, with the same lineup as before: a 2.2 litre turbodiesel with 148bhp TD4 or 187bhp SD4. They’re a little noisy when cold, but they’ve got more than enough grunt to pull its 1805kg mass, and plenty of muscle for the odd off-road foray. There’s also a 2WD option on the less powerful lump in case you’re certifiably insane (save for lower C02 emissions, there’s no good reason to buy it). Infuriatingly, JLR’s reserving the best engine – a 2.0-litre four-pot – for the Americans, who seem to be having all the fun right now.
Confession time – I live in Crouch End. What’s it like on the road?
Ah, not to worry. It actually rides really, really well, even on the optional 19-inch wheels. You might find the steering a little remote, but no more so than its competitors, and it’s not the sort of thing you really want to flinging around. First-gear acceleration’s a little too keen, though, which can be annoying in traffic.
So should I just buy an Audi like everyone else?
Well, the Q5, VW Tiguan, BMW X3, and Volvo XC60 are all newer, but in comfort, and off-road competency terms, the Freelander’s still one of the best in its class. Reassuringly expensive, mind. Prices start at £23,700 (£1000 more than the current car) but if you go for the top-spec HSE Lux trim, it’ll set you back £39,805. That’s £1500 more than the most expensive five-door Evoque.
£39,805, 4-cyl, 187bhp, 310lb ft, 40.4mpg, 185g/km C02, 0-60mph in 8.7secs, 118mph