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First look: Land Rover's freedom march!

Brit: New Freelander gains a 3.3-litre six, 2.2-litre diesel and six-speed auto.

Finally, Land Rover comes clean with its second-generation Freelander compact SUV

29 Jun 2006

LAND Rover has come clean on its crucial new Freelander small 4WD, well in advance of its international debut at the London International Motor Show next month.

Shown late last week and following a brochure leak on the internet several weeks earlier, Freelander 2 is the long-awaited second-generation vehicle with which Land Rover will be aiming to achieve some sort of relevance in the ultra-competitive compact SUV segment.

Due in Australia later this year, the five-door Freelander 2 has further Range Rover cues chiselled out of its exterior block, a more spacious cabin (including 38 per cent more luggage room than the outgoing model) and two engines – a 3.2-litre inline-six and 2.2-litre turbo-diesel – driving all four wheels on a permanent basis.

There is no word on a three-door model.

24 center imageAs one might expect, Land Rover is claiming improvements across the board. As well as increased interior room, it claims to have stronger and more economical performance, more refinement, better build quality and higher capabilities both on the road and off it.

A replacement for the 130kW/240Nm 2.5-litre V6 sold in Australia before lacklustre sales sent it back home to Britain in 2004, the Volvo-developed 3.3-litre DOHC 24-valve straight-six (with cam profile switching and variable valve timing) looks an altogether different proposition with 171kW at 6300rpm and 317Nm at 3200rpm.

Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission with sequential-manual shift and sport modes, the petrol Freelander 2 is claimed to be able to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 8.4 seconds. Its combined average fuel consumption is a less-impressive 11.2L/100km.

Replacing the current 83kW/260Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, the much-more-sufficient 2.2-litre common-rail TD4 – a product of the Ford/PSA Peugeot-Citroen engine alliance – produces 118kW and 400Nm from 2000rpm and, when paired with the standard Getrag M66 six-speed manual gearbox, is claimed to conquer 0-100km/h in 11.7 seconds.

It also has a claimed fuel consumption average of 7.5L/100km. The same Aisin Warner AWF21 six-speed automatic used in the petrol Freelander will be available as an option on the oil-burner.

There is no low-range gearing available, however hill-descent control continues and, on high-series models, Land Rover’s "Terrain Response" system – which adapts the responses of the engine, gearbox, centre coupling and chassis systems, and has modes for sand, mud/ruts and grass/gravel/snow (as well as general driving) – is fitted.

Other electronic aids include traction and stability control, cornering brake control, roll stability control and ABS brakes with EBD and brake assist. LR has also developed a "gradient release control" which is linked to hill-descent control and aims to ensure that brake pressure is released progressively on steep inclines.

The (monocoque) Freelander 2’s suspension comprises coil-sprung struts and anti-rollbars front and rear. The steering is power-assisted rack-and-pinion (requiring just 2.6 turns lock to lock), while ventilated front brake discs are used front and rear (measuring 316mm/302mm for the petrol model and 300mm/302mm for the diesel). Wheel and tyre combinations range from 16 to 19 inches, depending on the model variant.

Now resting on a 2660mm wheelbase (up 103mm), Freelander 2 is 50mm longer (at 4500mm) than the outgoing five-door model, 109mm wider (1910mm, excluding mirrors) and 32mm taller (1740mm). The front track is 1611mm, rear track 1624mm and the turning circle 11.4m. Luggage volume is 755 litres with the seatbacks raised and 1670 litres with them folded. Minimum ground clearance has increased to 210mm, while the wading depth is 500mm.

Kerb weight has increased at least 100kg to a minimum 1770kg.

Cabin features and options include seven airbags (one of which is an inflatable knee bolster), bi-Xenon headlights, adaptive front lighting, a panoramic sunroof, touch-screen DVD satellite navigation, park distance control and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

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