Update: 12 August 2014
Latest MR MPG: 32.6
The first three months: Land Rover Freelander SD4
It didn’t take long for the Freelander to ingratiate itself. It may be one of the oldest off-roaders that you can still buy brand new, but the Freelander 2 still cuts it.
That’s partly down to the Evoque, which Land Rover built upon an updated Freelander platform. Subsequently, the Freelander got most of those upgrades too, so now it looks less agricultural inside and more Disco than Defender from the outside.
The 2.2-litre, 190hp turbo-diesel is mated to a six-speed auto transmission. The gearbox feels a bit dated now and does little to help the economy. Think 30mpg – and be pleased when you get any better. Instead revel in the strong performance and big windows that allow ready positioning on the road.
I have used the Freelander once to transport bikes (with my Thule bike rack clamped to the tow bar) and many times to fill it with junk to take to the local recycling centre in Hertford. It handles both roles well, though I had to search out an electrical adaptor for the lighting board – the Freelander connection has many more pins than the bike rack.
As a load carrier the Land Rover has “proper” fold down seats. That is, you lift the rear cushions up and forward and then fold the backrest down to give a flat floor. So many of the cheapskate crossover newcomers don’t bother with the dual fold arrangement, with the inevitable result that the extended floor is far from flat.
Which brings me to my brother- and sister-in-law. They run an ancient three-door RAV4 and a newer Nissan Pathfinder. They bought the latter for the space, but Dave hates driving the Nissan – all too heavy and agricultural. But the 150,000-mile RAV4 has to be the first to go, and they are having trouble picking a replacement. Ideally it will have a petrol engine and flat floor, but not removable seats like the RAVs because doing that is a pain. And it must have four-wheel drive.
That narrows the field dramatically. Land Rover can’t do it, for like most companies, it’s pretty well shunned petrol power except at the extreme performance end of its 4×4 range. The issue here is asthma, which diesel particulates can aggravate.
There is a very tasty sounding Freelander with a 2.0-litre 240hp turbo petrol engine that sounds like a lot of fun, but I doubt that will be for Dave, even if Land Rover did decide to sell it in the UK.
Their compromise is one I am glad I don’t have to make. Since the Freelander arrived, in top SD4 HSE Lux specification, the price has been cut by £4k to £36k, and it has been re-badged the Metropolis. That’s still pricey, but I totally get the appeal.
Update: 2 June 2014
Latest MR MPG: 32.0
I got back to Stansted airport’s Meet and Greet parking yesterday to find an Evoque parked next to my Freelander. Same spec – HSE – and same 190hp SD4 engine.
It’s remarkable how much bigger the Freelander is, a proper family workhorse compared with the more stylish Evoque. Both, of course, sit on largely the same mechanical platform.
Already I am thinking that the older design of the Freelander is more to my liking. It’s more practical shape seems more honest and down to earth. It certainly doesn’t feel like a car that’s been around for eight years and is due for replacement in less than a year.
Meanwhile, my HSE LUX derivative has been superseded by the Freelander Metropolis, a run-out model that’s £3k less at £35,995.