1 Nov 2000
By CHRIS HARRIS
Land Rover tried to right the original model’s wrongs with the Freelander Series II from late 2000.
The 1.8 was dumped for a Rover 75-derived 2.5-litre V6 mated – at last – to a BMW-supplied five-speed automatic with Steptronic sequential manual shift.
This gearbox also channelled the power from the new BMW-supplied 82kW/260Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel TD4 motor which, at least also offered the option of a five-speed manual, as LR sought to compensate for the missing auto by banishing manuals in all other models. More cock-ups then.
Only an extended front bumper and grille altered to accommodate the V6 gave the Series II models away.
Inside the chunky plastic dash gained notably improved switchgear placement as part of a centre console redesign.
But while the natty rubber dash inserts and clever storage spots stayed, so did the difficult to read instrumentation and cheapo overall feel.
And while the front seats were comfortable, they were set too high even for average-sized people. Narrow rear-door openings also limited entry, although once inside the stepped ceiling liberates headroom considerably.
Sitting three abreast is was a squeeze although the seats were accommodating, while splitting 60/40 and also folding and tumbling neatly and easily to boost cargo space.
Up front, developing 130kW of power at 6500rpm and 247Nm of torque at 4000rpm, the V6 was smooth and refined and did a resolute job shifting the heavy 1597kg SUV about.
It also meant that there was now enough low-down grunt for a keen driver to take advantage of the quick steering and grippy handling.
Yet for all its willingness, and the transmission's adeptness, the V6 didn’t feel especially fast, and had to be revved hard to perform. Consequently fuel consumption – and that’s premium unleaded at that – soared.
Nevertheless, revisions to the all-independent suspension helped provide a supple and controlled ride, while full-time 4WD allowed it to cling to dirt and tar alike.