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Land Rover Freelander 2001-TD4 and V6

It looks as if Land Rover really means business with the new Freelander. The company says that, partly by taking account of feedback from owners, and partly because this is a major up-grade, more than 40% of the components in the 1.8i model are new or modified. In the new V6 and Td4 models the figure rises to something like 70%.

Those two engines are the most significant items of news. The previous turbo diesel has gone, and the 2-litre Td4 which replaces it is the 82kW BMW common rail design with much better power, economy, response, flexibility and torque 260Nm at 1 750rpm.

The big news however, is that Freelander will now have as its top petrol engine the 2.5-litre V6. The 1.8i continues as the entry level model.

There are some styling changes, most noticeably a new front-end look for the V6, with revised bumper and grille. That brings an extra 65mm of body length, but the 30-degree approach angle to ditches and so on has been preserved. The latest Freelander may have modifications to the suspension, brakes and steering, largely to improve its tarmac handling, but the designers haven't forgotten it's a dual-purpose 4x4 intended for a certain amount of off-road work.

Hydraulic engine mountings have been improved too, there are new 16 alloy wheels, with 215 rubber and the Freelander, like the Discovery, has gone over to multiplex wiring.

The new model range is based on the 1.8i manual, the Td4 manual, the Td4 automatic and the V6 automatic. The automatics come with Steptronic transmission and Land Rover has been careful to arrange that the hill descent control is disengaged when the driver selects Steptronic. Otherwise, it might be knocked out by a casual nudge.

The Freelander is the best-selling mid-range four wheel drive in Europe, and not without good reason - it is stylish, practical, spacious, fairly economical and has the intrepid aura of the Land Rover badge. And it has managed to stay at the top of the charts despite the fact that its fantasy go-anywhere image has often been undermined by its real world ability to stop any time, any place, a victim of mechanical failure.

Freelander reliability and quality has not always been of the best. Ever since it got involved, former owner BMW has struggled to improve the score in this direction, and this make-over is largely the result of its efforts. But now that BMW has baled out of the Rover Group the Land Rover mantle has passed to the Ford Motor Company for some three billion Euro and the company is not only determined to improve quality, but has experience of pulling recalcitrant British car companies up by their bootstraps, having performed this not inconsiderable feat at Jaguar.

Subtle upgrades all round

These revisions aren't only about quality, however. One of the Freelanders smaller drawbacks has been the limited adequacy of its engines, and the lack of availability of an automatic transmission. Both issues have been tackled in the 2001 version. The 1.8 Rover K series engine continues with minor changes to improve its emissions performance, but the somewhat uncouth Rover L series diesel is replaced by BMW's excellent 2.0 litre 16 valve unit- detuned to 82kW, while those after more grunt can now opt for a V6. This 13kW 2.5 litre engine is another Rover unit (it appears in the excellent 75), though BMW still owns the plant that produces it. It is only available mated to an automatic, this being a five speed Steptronic (a BMW term, meaning that you can shift gears manually should you desire) which can also optionally be had with the new diesel motor.

Detail interior improvements

The V6's bulk calls for a longer grille and bumper assembly up front, but there are few other visual identifiers of the make-over. Inside, the somewhat bitty dash remains largely unchanged, but there's a new centre console and a few equipment improvements. Also upgraded are the brakes, ABS anti-lock protection becoming standard, and with this comes electronic brake force distribution and Land Rover's excellent Hill Descent Control device. The suspension and power steering have been reworked too, and the bodyshell has been extensively strengthened.

All of which, Land Rover hopes, will be enough to bolster the Freelander's appeal against the all-new Toyota RAV 4, the new Hyundai Santa Fe, and the Mitsubishi Pajero in an area of the market that is offering more and more choice.

On the road

Let's start with the diesel, which is likely to be the best-seller by far. And the most impressive, and unexpected, quality of this version is its refinement. The BMW motor is genuinely subdued and free of diesel rattle. It also pulls with authority, making progress brisk and relaxed, especially since the gearchange quality of the new five-speed transmission is very good. Couple all this with a soft, cushioning ride, and the lofty vantage point that you enjoy, and you have yourself a very pleasant way to get about.

The diesel's thrust makes overtaking relatively stress-free, while the Freelander's cornering prowess provides more enjoyment than a keen driver might expect on twisty roads. The Freelander does lean in bends, and eventually it will run wide, but its behaviour never gets out of hand, the more accurate steering making light work of threading through corners. It also stops with greater conviction, thanks to those improved brakes. Car drivers will be surprised at how car-like this 4x4 is - and off-roader types used to cruder fare will be impressed with its wieldiness and good manners.

Passengers enjoy the good view out, fairly decent seats, and in the rear, exceptional legroom. The boot is a good size too, making the five-door Freelander at least, a very sensible family estate. Where it leaves family estates behind, of course, is in its off-road ability. The four-wheel drive system apportions most of the engine's effort to the front wheels most of the time, but if the going gets slippery, the rear wheels play a bigger role, aided by the car's traction control system, which prevents all four wheels from spinning excessively. In league with its excellent ground clearance, this means that the Freelander is able to play the mountain goat better than its rivals, if not as well as its big brother the Discovery, which benefits from a set of low gear ratios and other sophistications. And the ingenious hill descent control, now standard, makes a superb job of edging the car down steep, rocky and precarious slopes, automatically braking it to 8km/h in first or reverse gears, whether you have a manual or an automatic. And the automatic, standard on the V6 and an option for the diesel, changes gear with pleasing fluency, making for very relaxed progress. But in Sport mode, in which it is more responsive, does not prove sensitive enough to the demands of a keen driver intent on getting the best of the V6. That engine is smooth and potent enough to encourage driving enthusiastically, but the transmission does not kick down readily enough sometimes. Doing it all yourself, in Steptronic mode - you slide the lever to the right, and push it forward and back for up or down shifts - is a solution, but really, this is no Porsche, and you soon find yourself leaving the gearbox to do the job for you.

The V6 will be useful for those who tow, or live in hilly regions, where the extra oomph comes in handy. But most buyers will be more than happy with the excellent TD4, whose only significant flaw is a tendency to stall, off-road, if you don't give it enough throttle in certain circumstances. And that is a small debit in the face of the economy gains it offers.

Overall then, this new Freelander is usefully improved. It now has engines better suited to its character, while the detail improvements do much to enhance daily life with the car. But best of all, following the joint efforts of BMW and Ford, there is now some hope that this otherwise excellent four-wheel drive will be properly assembled, and stay that way. All of which ought to be enough to maintain its position as Europe's favourite 4x4.

Product Lineup:

Engines:

V6 engine: 2 497cc
130kW at 6 250 r/min, 240Nm at 4 000 r/min

Td4 engine: 1 951cc, common-rail, intercooled and turbocharged
82kW at 4 000 r/min, 260Nm at 1 750 r/min

1.8 16V engine: 1 796cc
86kW at 5 500 r/min, 160Nm at 2 750 r/min

Approximate fuel consumption for combined town/highway driving:
1.8 16V: 10.4 litres per 100km
Td4 manual: 7.6 litres per 100km
Td4 auto: 8.6 litres per 100km
V6 auto: 12.4 litres per 100km

Fuel tank capacity (all models): 59 litres

Features and Specifications:
* 5-speed Steptronic transmission on V6 and optional on Td4
* Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) now standard
* Refined front suspension and steering
* New 16 alloy wheels and brake system
* Upgraded sound system with remote controls
* Larger airbags
* New dash layout and centre console
* Full array of warning lights
* Improved heating and cooling system, with pollen filters
* New front bumpers and headlamps
* Cruise control on V6 and Td4 auto
* New immobiliser
* ABS, ETC, HDC, permanent 4x4 viscous coupling
* Aircon, targa roof (3dr) and electric sunroof (5dr)
* CD changer standard on V6
* Electric tailgate window

courtesy news24.co.za

 

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LandyOnline - Land Rovers in Africa  2000 - 2012                   Last updated 08/09/2012