John Beale spent some time in the baby Land Rover with the latest 4-cyl engine. Photos and pricing included at the end of his Freelander Si4 review.
The Freelander received an update towards the end of last year: a slight update to the exterior bringing eye catching new LED headlamps, a new grille and bumper, as well as revised tail-lights. A new Dynamic model has been added to the line-up and adds new colours and interior identity. It has definitely helped spruce up the Freelander, seeing as most of the competition is fairly new in design.
Updated Freelander engineMost important to the update is the addition of the 2litre turbocharged engine (that does justice elsewhere in the Jaguar-Land Rover stable) has made it to the Freelander. The Si4 turbo charged 4-cylinder petrol now replaces the i6 V6 fuel hog.
With 177kW and 340NM the new unit offers better fuel consumption and smart regenerative technology too. There’s enough power and torque on offer, but the 6-speed automatic gearbox struggles to get the most out of it with slow shifts and what seems to be a love affair with 5th gear. No matter how fast or slow, it kicks into 5th, and then to accelerate you have to jam the accelerator down causing numerous shifts and much noise. Not ideal, for fuel consumption or driving style.
Once you’re into the turbo band the 4cylinder moves the all wheel drive Freelander along nicely. It’s a great unit, and a huge improvement on the V6. Unfortunately I couldn’t get anywhere close to claimed figures, with over 20l/100km on solely town driving, which is um, fairly high.
Interior UpdatesThe interior also received an update, with revised dash, new colour instrument binnacle digital screen, keyless start, a larger 7-inch touch screen for navigation and multimedia as well as an optional high performance Meridian Sound System (standard sound is excellent enough!).
It does however have the smallest boot out of the BMW X3 and Q5, but it’s boxy and high so is practical to fill. Rear seats are bench like but offer good legroom. The front captain’s chairs with armrests are a little oldschool and offer very little lateral support. Otherwise the cabin now follows even more closely to the Discovery, and new centre console with improved hidey spaces works well. Besides the slow 7inch screen, there is little to fault.
Off-road abilityThe familiar Terrain response system, which sets the Freelander apart in between the competition as the most competent off-road, has moved to button style operation. With class leading ground clearance, articulation and brakeover and departure angles comes less dynamic on-road prowess.
Where it’s the most competent of all small SUV’s off-road, it pitches, wallows and rolls on road. It makes for a comfortable ride, but not one that’s made for speed.
Brakes are squishy but work well, albeit pitching the nose of the Freelander into the tar when breaking hard. That said, the familiar Terrain Response system is unique in this category, and makes soft-roading a terribly easy operation. There is no low-range but rather brakes which arrest the wheel spinning when there’s no traction. Also included is hill-descent and hill-start assist.
No more mechanical handbrakeThe update also now features an electronic handbrake, which might deter some buyers, as now there’s very little mechanical actuation left on the vehicle, so technically just more to break without the ability to fix it in the bush, which might concern some buyers. It is however intelligent in that it actuates force based on incline and temperature of the brakes.
Freelander – safety featuresA host of standard safety systems include ABS, EBD, BAS, ETC, DSC, RMC and received a 5star euro NCAP rating with its new Knee-Bag.
Overall, the updated Freelander is an excellent buy for those wanting a bit more confidence off the tar, and a bit more power in town. With updated looks it now fits with the familiar Range/Land Rover face, while we wait for the new model. That said, you do pay a premium for the quality interior and features, and when looking at the competition, it’s a tough choice.
Land Rover Freelander Pricing in South AfricaLand Rover Freelander 2,0 Si4 HSE – R546 200
*5yr/100 000km service plan
Freelander RivalsBMW X3 xDrive28i AT – 180kW/350NM – R562 000
Audi Q5 2,0T FSI SE Quattro AT – 165kW/350NM – R546 000
Jeep Grand Cherokee 3,6L LTD AT – 210kW/347NM – R562 990
Land Rover Freelander Gallery