This is one of the Land Rover Freelander’s strong points, provided you are looking for sedate, cushioned progress and not deft, hatchback-like handling such as you can expect in this vehicle’s most obvious rivals. The ride quality is a particularly impressive achievement on the Land Rover, in that it manages to deliver a good blend of soft, absorbent springs without the excessive body movement that often comes with it.
There is a noticeable amount of roll in hard cornering, but when cornering forces are not involved the body stays flat while the springs soak up the road’s surface blemishes. It’s particularly effective at low speeds and over smaller intrusions in the tarmac. Larger bumps and undulations, meanwhile, can cause the body to wallow or rock.
It is a long-standing and endearing Land Rover characteristic, but even when driven hard the Freelander retains slightly ponderous responses - not in a bad way, given that this results in a car that encourages smooth and unhassled driving. Good as the chassis is, though, the Freelander feels out of its comfort zone when you try to find its limits. Turn-in is sharp, but vague steering removes much of the feedback and, with so much weight moving between each corner, it can feel unbalanced if you need to adjust the line mid-corner.
Carry too much speed into a damp corner and you will notice the difference between the two- and four-wheel-drive Freelander, because the front-wheel-drive version will understeer quite dramatically until you lift off the throttle. The all-wheel-drive model is not free of understeer, but the laws of physics make it clear that if you’re short of grip, having four driven wheels is better than two. Even so, 99 percent of the time on everyday British roads, the Freelander eD4 makes sense.