Land Rover Freelander

It rains at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power. It rains a lot. Every year since it’s inception in 2008 I’ve attended what’s slowly becoming known as the Goodwood of the North and every year I’ve got wet, very wet. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a dry one.

Baring this in mind, and with tickets booked for this years event I gave some serious thought as to what car would provide the perfect means of transport for my journey north. I needed something that could cut it amongst the Cheshire set’s best; Something that would provide me with the right balance of performance and economy so as to not make the ninety minute schlep up the A49 either a chore, or an expensive folly; Something that, if necessary would provide me with a comfy seat in which to sit and watch the on-track action if the heavens truly opened. And, because I’m really picky, if possible something with four wheel drive – I had no intention of getting stuck in a quagmire car-park. With my criteria set I gave Land Rover a call. Two days before Lord Cholmondeley was to swing open the gates of his Cheshire estate and let the racing cars in a Freelander 2 was delivered to my door.

It’s been a while since I last drove Land Rover’s entry level model, and since then it’s been given a bit of a makeover - although you have to have more than just a passing interest to spot what’s been done to the outside. New headlamps and a flashy new grille are the most obvious external changes, and they’ve revised the bumpers and added a little chrome here and there too and, well, that’s really about it. All in all it might not be as distinctive as its younger cousin, the Evoque, but the Freelander still retains its slightly imposing and chunky suburban off-roader appeal. These days you get some rather attractive diamond cut alloy wheels as standard as well.

It’s inside though where the most obvious changes have taken place. The Freelander now gets the centre console and Tonka-toy rubberised switches that graced the previous generation Range-Rover plus the heated steering wheel too.  There’s a new colour multimedia touch screen that controls the sat-nav, Bluetooth and DAB, and if you’re lucky enough be in a top-spec HSE model you’ll get electrically adjustable heated seats covered in Windsor leather and piano black trim together with some pretty deep carpets. You’ll also notice that the Terrain Response dial has been replaced; instead two smaller buttons take its place. The changes are subtle but they all add up to give the interior a more modern, more premium feel.

As expected the Freelander’s lofty driving position offers good views in all directions and helps you plan ahead. At nigh-on two tonnes, and with a diesel engine -there’s no longer a petrol option - and an automatic gearbox, this is no sports-car, so the slow-in approach to bends is the best course of action. The steering feels a little vague and there’s a fair amount of body roll especially when compared to the likes of BMW’s X3, but the upsides are a surprisingly comfy ride which over time, despite a little wind noise, proves to be quite relaxing. Plus, you just know that even if you were to have a little off-road excursion, or the going was to become suddenly all the more bumpy, gooey, flooded, snowy … you name it, with a quick press of a button to select either Mud and Ruts, Grass-Gravel- Snow or Sand, the Freelander would pull you out of trouble in a way few other 4x4’s can. Should, heaven forbid, things get really serious multiple airbags, and a Euro N-Cap 5 star safety rating adds reassurance too.

So, with my bags packed, my boots on, and my waterproofs stowed in the slightly stingy sized (well for this size of car at least) boot, I made my way north safe in the knowledge that the Freelander would deal equally well with the morning’s traffic, the dual carriage-way cruise and the estate roads and tracks that lead to Cholmondley Castle.

As I rolled across the grass and claimed my trackside spot, a scroll through the trip-computer revealed combined fuel figures of 36 mpg over a 60 mile trip; a little short of what I’d been lead to expect. The Freelander’s £39,805 price tag set me thinking too – would I similar sized SUV from another manufacturer prove more economical in the long run?

Probably yes. But like Pageant of Power’s weather the Freelander still feels as British and as dependable as it always has.

 

Land Rover Freelander 2 SD4 HSE Lux

 

Engine: 2179cc 4Cyl 16V turbo-diesel

Transmission: 6 speed automatic, four-wheel drive.

Power:  187bhp @ 3500pm

Torque: 309 lbft @ 1750rpm

0-62MPH: 9.5 Sec

Max Speed: 118mph

CO2: 185g/km

MPG: 40.4 combined

Price: £39,805

 

Many thanks to Land Rover’s UK press office for the loan of their Freelander

 

For more information about the Cholmondeley Pageant of power go to www.cpop.co.uk

 

www.liam-bird.com

 

@bird_liam

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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