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Land Rover Freelander 2004

The Freelander went on sale in South Africa in 1998 and according to Land Rover the company has now spent $35m on giving this 4x4 a new look.

There continues to be two body styles on offer: a three-door version, featuring a detachable hardback, and a five-door.

Land Rover claims there are over 700 changes on the 2004 Freelander, which include major exterior and interior revisions. The new look brings the Freelander in-line with the Discovery and Range Rover models.

The most obvious change is at the front, which boasts new Range Rover-styled headlights and an all-new mesh grille and bumper.

The new twin-pocket headlamps are also not just a cosmetic change - they also provide a higher light intensity, 70% better than before.

At the rear the changes are less subtle. The taillights have been repositioned higher, improving their visibility, and the rear bumper is also now colour coded.

As before the Freelander's tailgate has a "drop window" function which is particularly useful for loading items in the boot without having to open the rear door.

For the first time rear park distance control is also now available on all Freelander models.

Interior

The biggest changes are reserved for the interior.

There is a new fascia, instruments, switchgear and door trims plus new upholstery fabrics, while new seats on all models offer better body and under-thigh comfort.

The electric window lift switches are now positioned in the door trim on the five-door models.

The centre console is new, as are the larger cup holders mounted in the centre of the fascia. The position of the cup holders are in fact very impractical because the sun shine the whole time on your drinks!

Another obvious flaw is the fact that there are no grab handles, which are actually quite important in a vehicle like this, especially in off-road conditions.

There is also no seat height or steering wheel reach adjustment.

Standard features:
Electric windows Electric side mirrors Nine-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system Six-disc CD-frontloader Remote controls for the sounds system on the steering wheel Cruise control

Engineering

As before, there is a choice of three engines:

  • 1.8 petrol - 86 kW at 5 550 r/min / 160 Nm at 2 750 r/min (Manual)
  • 2.0 diesel - 82 kW at 4 000 r/min / 260 Nm at 1 750 r/min (Manual/Auto)
  • 2.5 V6 petrol - 130kW at 6 250 r/min / 240 Nm at 4 000 r/min (Auto)

    Gearboxes comprise a five-speed electronically controlled automatic and a five-speed manual .

    Four-wheel drive and a host of high-tech electronic systems, such as Hill Descent Control and Electronic Traction Control, allow the Freelander to wade through water, or climb and descend slippery slopes.

    The Freelander's 4x4 drive operates full-time, meaning all-wheel drive security is constantly there

    Electronic Traction Control (ETC) works in conjunction with the four-wheel drive. If a wheel should spin, the power is instantly diverted to the wheel that still has grip, helping the driver to move away.

    The brakes are moderated by Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), a computer-controlled system which ensures that braking is automatically applied to maximum effect.

    The automatic transmission also senses the road conditions, modifying its gear change patterns on steep hills or going down precipitous drops.

    Driving it

    One of the nicest things about driving a car like the Freelander is the nice all-round view you have of the road. The high seating position gives you a good view of what is going on around you.

    It is also not an intimidating vehicle to drive thanks to its compact dimensions.

    In normal road conditions and in town the Freelander feels smooth but there is a lot of road noise.

    Around town Freelander drivers must be aware that its turning circle is quite wide. The car's steering also feels a bit on the heavy side, which can be problematic when parking.

    There is also a bit of body roll when cornering, so it is a better bet to tackle tight corners at lower speeds. But overall handling is good and the car is definitely a nice cruiser.

    On more challenging roads such as gravel the Freelander also shows its strength. It has good grip and handling on this kind of road.

    You are also able to tackle moderate off-road conditions with the Freelander. This SUV handles steep climbs with relative ease and when you go downhill the Hill Descent Control does a good job.

    We drove the diesel TD4 and 2.5-litre V6 petrol model. The punchy TD4 engine, which is BMW sourced, is the more impressive unit. It is smooth and offers loads of useful torque.

    Although the V6 engine does a good job, it doesn't feel as powerful as it should be. It lacks the overall refinement of the diesel, and it is also a gas guzzler.

    Conclusion

    The revisions to the Freelander range give the car a more upmarket feel than before. Its nose job is also for the better, and gives the Freelander a more aggressive and purposeful look.

    The quality of the plastics used for the interior seems better than before, but there are still some cheap shiny bits. The layout of the fascia is practical and all controls are easy to operate.

    Both the three and five-door models offers good cabin space ,and while the boot isn't cavernous the rear seats can fold down to create a nice big loading area.

    The Freelander is definitely better than before, but only time will tell if this vehicle will be able to hold its head up high given the reported problems of quality and service at Land Rover.

    courtesy www.wheels24.co.za 

 

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