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AIMS: Land Rover flaunts freshened Freelander

Merry Xmas: Land Rover will deliver the first examples of its facelifted Freelander to Australia in December, just in time for Christmas.

Updated Freelander to join Rangie at Sydney with upmarket cabin, downsized engine

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Land Rover logo23 Aug 2012

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

LAND ROVER has unveiled a facelifted, more upmarket Freelander mid-size SUV ahead of its world debut at next week’s Moscow motor show, hot on the heels of the all-new Range Rover it revealed last week.

The freshened Freelander will make its Australian debut alongside the new Rangie on Land Rover’s Sydney show stand in October and first local deliveries will take place in December.

Most of the updates have taken place inside the plush new cabin, but replacing the 3.2-litre straight-six petrol engine with the Range Rover Evoque’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant yields more performance, improves fuel efficiency and extends servicing intervals.

External updates to the Freelander are subtle, headlined by restyled headlights featuring Evoque-style LED daytime-running light graphics and bolder tail-light clusters, plus new paint finishes and alloy wheel designs.

Minor changes have also been applied to the grille, side vents and foglight surrounds.

Land Rover has softened the current Freelander’s utilitarian, button-infested dashboard with a cleaner, classier, more ergonomic design that places the major infotainment controls higher up, flanking a new analogue clock.

Facing the driver is a restyled steering wheel and improved instrument cluster with a new five-inch colour multi-function display between the dials.

Land Rover has packed the updated Freelander with technology from higher up the range, including an upgraded satellite-navigation system, voice recognition and a reversing camera with assistance for hitching a trailer.

Replacing the Terrain Response selector knob with an Evoque-style button and moving to an electric park brake frees up enough centre console space to add a new storage area, while dashboard clutter is further reduced by introducing keyless entry and start, replacing the motorised ‘key dock’ system.

The electric parking brake automatically applies the appropriate force depending on the slope the parking space, periodically adjusts to ensure consistent clamping as brakes cool down, only deactivates if the driver’s seat is occupied and can be used as an emergency brake if activated when the vehicle is in motion.

The upgraded standard eight-speaker sound system has a five-inch touchscreen display, a hard drive capable of storing up to 10 audio CDs, a DVD player, Bluetooth streaming and USB/iPod/auxiliary inputs.

In place of the outgoing Freelander’s Alpine premium sound system is a new Meridian set-up with seven-inch touchscreen, available with 380-watt output and 11 speakers or in top-spec 825-watt, 17-speaker surround-sound guise.

New features that will not be available in Australia include DAB digital radio compatibility and a timer system enabling the driver to pre-warm the engine and set the interior temperature.

The downsized petrol engine produces the same 177kW and 340Nm as in the Evoque and consumes 9.6 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres, down 11 per cent from the six-pot’s 10.7L/100km.

In addition to the extra 6kW and 23Nm over the outgoing petrol engine, the turbo-four also provides a 40kg weight saving and extends servicing intervals from 24,000km to 26,000km.

Land Rover Australia marketing and public affairs manager Tim Krieger told GoAuto the turbo-petrol unit has been well-received in the Evoque, accounting for almost one-third of volume.

“We are very excited about this (engine) and we think it will add an extra dimension to Freelander,” he said.

Mr Krieger said the current volume leader for Freelander is the diesel TD4 automatic (from $52,970 plus on-road costs), closely followed by the more powerful SD4 diesel (from $56,810).

Freelander sales have struggled in Australia since the Evoque arrived here last November and are down 29.8 per cent to the end of July with 526 units leaving showrooms.

The baby Rangie is by far Land Rover’s best-selling model this year with 1635 units registered, eclipsing the Discovery, sales of which dipped 1.6 per cent to 1206 units YTD.

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