Land Rover has let us have a go in a development prototype for the new Freelander stop-start, part of the brand’s drive towards greening its product range.
The system will be going on sale next year and although the idea behind it is familiar enough – Citroen and BMW are already selling sizeable numbers of stop-start equipped cars that – it’s a new departure for Land Rover.
Initially the system will only be offered on the TD4 manual Freelander, although plans are afoot to extend it throughout the Land Rover range. It’s claimed to reduce fuel consumption by nearly ten per cent, meaning that the Freelander should manage an impressive 42.5mpg on the combined cycle.
CO2 emissions are also reduced, from 195g/km to 179g/km, knocking the baby Landie down a whole emissions class. That’s not going to get a Prius worried, but it’s impressive for a hefty off-roader fitted with a pukka four-wheel drive system.
Final specs – including any price supplement over the standard car – will be issued closer to its launch.
What’s it like?
The essence of a good stop-start system is that you don’t even notice its presence, and on this the Freelander is mostly successful.
Stop the car, knock it out of gear and release the clutch and the engine stops – firing up again the moment the clutch pedal is depressed. An electronic brain keeps a careful eye on everything and refuses to stop the motor if the air conditioning is still needed or if the battery is running short on charge.
It would be fair to say that the prototype we drove was better at stopping than it was at starting, failing to fire up again on several occassions – but it was good enough to prove the fundamental sensibleness of the proposition. Indeed, in environmental terms, stop-start is about the easiest win going – adding almost no weight and little in the way of cost.
The only slight doubt comes from the fact the manual Freelander will continue to use its conventionial starter motor, rather than the more popular integrated starter/ alternator of rivals. On first impressions this makes it slightly slower to react to requests for a restart, and is obviously imposing some fairly considerable additional loads onto the starter.
Should I buy one?
You’ll have to wait until it actually goes on sale. But if you’re looking for an off-roader with an environmental conscience then it’s definitely worthy of serious consideration.