Meet the all-new Land Rover Freelander, which makes its debut at the London motor show next month, and which will be in owners’ hands before the end of the year.
Bigger, bolder and promising to be better than ever, the Freelander is Land Rover’s fourth new model in as many years.
The Freelander is still Land Rover’s entry level model, but engines now start with a 3.2-litre in-line six producing 230bhp and 234lb ft or a 2.2-litre turbodiesel producing 158bhp and a massive 295lb ft. The six only comes with a six-speed auto, while the diesel gets a six-speed manual, with an auto arriving in 2007. Prices start at £22,000, suggesting that the Land Rover is creating space for an entry level model below.
The styling is instantly recognisable as Freelander, with obvious cues from its bigger brothers, including an air vent on the side wing. Inside, the cabin has gone markedly upmarket, with more room, better equipment, including optional touch-screen sat-nav, and a classier look.
Expect the new Freelander to be more than capable off-road: it uses a new Haldex centre diff that Land Rover claims allows more sophisticated distribution of drive front to back. All models but the entry level Freelander also get a simplified version of the Terrain Response system that made its debut on the Discovery 2, with a dial in the cabin allowing the driver to select various off-road programs. The chassis is an all-steel monocoque, with MacPherson struts up front and a four-link independent set-up at the back.
The previous Freelander was a huge sales success for Land Rover, with sales reaching a peak of 72,000 in 2002: expect the new model to be every bit as popular.