LAND ROVER FREELANDER II 2.2 D HSE A
Land Rovers have a reputation for off-road ability, and it’s a reputation that the Freelander upholds. Sure, it is a compact SUV, but don’t underestimate its 4×4 capabilities. It can run with the big boys
One reason why The Bourne Identity was so entertaining was that it presented us with a new sort of action hero. Traditionally, action heroes were big and brawny, and relied only on their muscles and guns to defeat their enemies. Think of Arnold Schwarzenegger in action classics such as Terminator 2, Predator or Commando.
Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne, however, was different. He wasn’t particularly big or strong. He was built like Joe Average. But that unassuming appearance masked lethal combat skills. He could disarm opponents in an instant and take out a room full of highly-trained soldiers. He was also incredibly smart – always one step ahead of his enemies and able to outthink them when the pressure was on.
Now, the question is: if one had to identify the vehicular equivalent of Matt Damon’s super-spy, what would it be? We would argue that it’s Land Rover’s Freelander 2.
Like Jason Bourne, the Freelander 2 hides its abilities well. At a glance, it looks like road-biased compact SUV. The fact is, though, that Land Rover’s SUV is immensely capable off road.
Yes, it does not have low range, but thanks to a Terrain Response system similar to the Discovery’s, it can keep up with a lot of low-range 4x4s. By simply turning a dial, the driver can adapt the vehicle to tarmac, grass, gravel, snow, mud, ruts and sand. The engine, transmission and traction control system are all instantly reconfigured to provide the best possible performance on any given surface. A very neat trick!
During our Namibia Adventure Safari, the Freelander proved itself to be a consummate professional. It did what was required of it without any histrionics. In fact, it made travelling through the Kaokoveld in a compact SUV look easy.
Its 2,2-litre oilburner, which is mated to a six-speed auto shifter with Land Rover’s CommandShift, proved that it provides more than enough oomph to power the Freelander over tar and gravel, and through thick sand. The engine generates 140 kW of power and 420 Nm of torque, which is enough to take the Freelander from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 10 seconds.
Thanks to its good ground clearance, it also dispatched rocky stretches without fuss. The Freelander boasts 210mm of ground clearance at the front axle, and 265mm at the rear axle – enough to deal with any obstacle the average compact SUV would ever face.
“The Freelander impressed me a lot,” says Adriaan Kruger, who piloted the Landy during our trip. “I’m not a 4×4 expert, but I never struggled on the route. The vehicle inspires so much confidence. I was also very impressed with its performance and fuel consumption. The engine is lively but still very economical.”
Yes, if you’re looking for a compact SUV that will get the job done without a fuss, the Freelander won’t disappoint.
In most markets, the Freelander outsells the Discovery by a wide margin. In South Africa, however, the Disco is the bigger seller. It’s a shame that the Freelander 2 isn’t more popular, since it is a great compact SUV. To be sure, the previous Freelander suffered from a couple of quality and reliability problems, but the current-generation model has none of those issues. It is a comfortable and elegant SUV that is very competent off road.
Trivia: Land Rover started producing two-wheel-drive versions of the Freelander this year. The company’s new Range Rover Evoque is also available in two-wheel drive overseas, but in South Africa all Landy’s products retain their four-wheel-drive capabilities.
LAND ROVER FREELANDER II 2.2 D HSE A
Engine: 2,2-litre turbodiesel
Power: 140 kW @ 4000 r/min
Torque: 420 Nm @ 2000 r/min
Gearbox: Six-speed automatic
4WD: Full-time intelligent four-wheel drive
Ground clearance: 210 mm
Price: R499 995