Saturday, 23 June 2018

Superb SUV handling without the bulk factor

HISTORICALLY as British as bangers and mash, Land Rover has nevertheless transported itself in to the 21st century as a

Editorial by Nigel Wigmore

HISTORICALLY as British as bangers and mash, Land Rover has nevertheless transported itself in to the 21st century as a global brand.

Sheiks and superstars delight in the marque’s luxury 4x4s, which can compete in desirability with any car being made today.

Yet Land Rover’s humble origins are as old as I am. And though I like to feel that I am not yet quite ancient, our common birth year does provide a perspective from which to view any Land Rover product.

The original “farmer’s 4x4”, the Land Rover without roof, heater or even doors was launched on the post-war world in 1948 and so began the legend.

Like any institution, Land Rover has been battered and bruised on the road to global superstardom.

Ownership has changed from British Leyland to BMW to the current owner, the giant Tata Group of India. But along the way, Land Rover models have somehow always managed to maintain that overriding air of Britishness that I still found alive and well in this week’s drive, the Land Rover Freelander 2.

Land Rover’s own awareness of its worldwide appeal may well be measured by the fact that this newly revised Freelander 2 was launched at the Moscow International Motor Show in 2012 — presumbly to attract some of those by now fabled big Russian bucks.

But all that is very much a part of the new world order of things. I must say for me it was simply reassuring to drive this car, probably because I am of a generation that can put the Land Rover story into a living perspective having grown up during the Fifties and Sixties.

Coming hot on the heels of an up-to-the-minute electric car, the Freelander was a breath of fresh air.

I say this not because I do not like electric cars: I am absolutely in favour of innovative ideas in car manufacture and the drive towards finding alternative power sources.

But suffice to say that with the Freelander 2, I was back in my comfort zone in a tried and tested driving environment. And there was not a digital clock in sight!

Freelander 2 had a clock with actual hands and a face — a personal joy for me who can get dots before the eyes when confronted with too much techno-babble.

However, Freelander 2 lacks nothing on the equipment front as you would expect from any premium model being sold today.

There were all the trappings of luxury motoring.

Their very names reflected that Britishness you could almost touch when you sat behind the wheel of this HSE Lux spec model. From the Aintree Green colour of the car to the Windsor leather ebony seats and ebony interior to the 19in alloy diamond turned wheels to the new and upgraded 80W eight-speaker unit with 5in colour display screen available at entry-level.

Inside there are Say What You See prompted voice commands and rear view camera with ‘Hitch Assist’.

There are also AM/FM and DAB radio tuners, and the music players support CD, DVD, Virtual CD, iPod and USB.

There’s also a 3.5mm aux jack input for music players and Bluetooth audio streaming to any supporting devices including headphones.

So you may, like me, be swept away on a whiff of nostalgia by driving Freelander 2 but you will not have to forego any of the techy pleasures of modern life.

The car sat high on the road, even though it is not the biggest of 4x4s available. It handled solidly and safely on a variety of roads, and it proved an invaluable travelling companion on a 1,600-plus mile trip that took in Hampton Court (for the annual flower show) and several days’ break in Cornwall.

Yet at no time did I feel that this 4x4 was taking up more than its share of road space. And I think this is the beauty of the Freelander 2: because it is a compact 4x4 you can enjoy the pleasures of off or on-road driving (like all Land Rovers the Freelander 2 will happily indulge you on the most difficult of terrains) without the bulk factor so prevalent in today’s larger 4x4s.



Factfile

Freelander 2 * SD4 190PS

On the road price: £39,805

New exterior design features give a sportier and purposeful look

Model range extended with new, sporty ‘Dynamic’ and luxurious ‘HSE Lux’ derivatives

New premium interior design with improved storage, instrumentation and controls

New 7-inch colour touch-screen to control audio, phone and navigation systems

825W Meridian surround sound system with 17-speakers for concert-like experience

Say What You See prompted voice commands and rear view camera with ‘Hitch Assist’

5 Star Euro NCAP award for outstanding adult occupant protection

Two wheel drive eD4 derivative achieves an impressive 47.1mpg (6.0 L/100km) and CO2 emissions of 158g/km

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