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First drive: Land Rover freshens Freelander

Freelander: Compact Land Rover get a refresh for 2011, including new or revised engines over the range.

New TDI and cleaner petrol engines lift Freelander 2’s game for Land Rover

Land Rover logo8 Feb 2011

By MATHIEU RAUDONIKIS

LAND ROVER’S 2011 Freelander 2 has scored a new turbo-diesel engine that is available in two states of tune, as well as a petrol engine that has been tweaked to meet EU5 emissions regulations.

The changes come as part of Land Rover’s quest to reduce the footprint of its range of premium 4x4 vehicles and this encompasses all models in the line-up, from the large Range Rover Vogue to the compact Freelander 2 - the company’s smallest SUV at the moment.

While the Freelander is the baby of the line-up now, this will change when the Range Rover Evoque arrives in the third quarter of 2011, bringing with it the ability to further reduce the Land Rover fleet’s fuel consumption via two-wheel-drive, petrol and diesel engines and the possibility of hybrid powertrains at a later date.

For now, the Freelander 2 model line-up expands from five to seven variants across the two engines, while all variants offer all-wheel drive. A front-wheel drive, manual transmission TD4 Freelander available in some markets is under consideration for Australia, although with the limited appeal of manual gearboxes in such vehicles here its popularity would be very much dependant on pricing.

The new 2.2-litre turbo-diesel comes in two tunes – a 110kW TD4 or 140kW SD4 – both of which produce 420Nm of torque, while the power and torque of the 3.2-litre petrol inline six remains unchanged at 171kW and 317Nm.

The 2.2-litre diesel engine replaces the 2.0-litre unit that arrived in the Freelander 2. In TD4 spec the new engine matches the old with its 110kW (up from 108kW) output, while its 420Nm torque peak is 20Nm greater.

The entry-level TD4 manual at $44,990 employs an idle-stop function to reduce fuel use and emissions when the vehicle is not in motion. This function is only available with a revised Getrag six-speed manual gearbox.

For 2011 the speed of the stop/start operation has been improved by employing a bi-direction crank position sensor on the engine, which reduces cranking time from 900ms to less than 700ms. Land Rover claims the driver will feel the uprated operation via lower noise levels when starting and a noticeably quicker response time.

24 center imageThe stop/start TD4 was first introduced to the Freelander range during 2010 but was only available with the manual gearbox. Sales accounted for just four per cent of Freelander sales last year. Earlier reports of auto transmissions with stop/start coming in 2011 have proved off the mark as the development of these units has been delayed within the product cycle in order to concentrate engineering efforts on new Land Rover models.

Both the TD4 and SD4-spec diesel engines are fitted with a water-cooled, variable-geometry turbocharger to enhance torque and efficiency through the rev range, as well as to deliver more durability at higher engine temperatures. The turbocharger was specifically developed for this engine and works with third-generation common-rail fuel-injection for optimum efficiency.

A new, more powerful ECU allows higher rates of control to keep a tighter reign on tune and emissions, while both the TD4 and SD4 engines can now safely run on blends of up to 10 per cent biodiesel - up from five per cent on the previous TD4.

Official average fuel consumption of the Freelander TD4 manual with stop/start is 6.6L/100km, while the auto TD4 and the SD4 auto are both quoted at 7.0L/100km on the combined cycle. Land Rover quotes CO2 emissions of the 2.2-litre TD4 Freelander manual at 174g/km and 185g/km for both the TD4 and SD4 automatics.

In the 0-100km/h sprint the SD4 auto takes just 9.5 seconds, the TD4 auto 11.2 and the TD4 manual 11.7. The Si6 petrol-powered Freelander does the dash in 8.9 seconds while its combined fuel use is quoted at 10.7L/100km.

The 2011 upgrades to Freelander 2 could well be considered a mid-life change for the model that was introduced in 2007. A new front bumper, grille, headlights, tail-lights, door mirrors, full-width chrome tailgate trim and paint finishes distinguish it from the earlier Freelander 2 and give it a look more akin to the larger Land Rovers.

The model split is further identified by the use of a dark finish on the grille of TD4 variants and bright finish on SD4 and Si6 models, as well body-coloured mirrors and door-handles.

The exterior colour selection has been expanded and there are a range of alloy wheel choices up to 18-inch in diameter.

Inside there are new trims and finishes, plus a choice of four different seat trims including two colours of cloth and two leather trims, available dependant on spec level.

At the high end of the option range, there’s a new Premium Luxury Pack option with Windsor leather trim in Ebony, Almond, Ivory or Tan colours privacy glass special 19-inch alloy wheels eight/six-way electric seats a Logic 7 audio system premium carpet mats and covered centre stowage. This is available on the range-topping SD4 Freelander HSE only and adds $6890 to the $64,854 price.

A new XS specification level has been introduced in between the base TD4 and the SE. It is available with either the TD4 or Si6 engines and offers similar levels of standard equipment as the outgoing SE, including leather trimmed seats (with manual adjustment) nine-speaker audio and automatic climate-control, but adds items like Bluetooth and satellite-navigation.

Sat-nav is fitted to all 2011 Freelander 2 variants. While only the top-of-the-line HSE gets full factory-integrated DVD-based sat-nav, the lower-spec models are fitted with an aftermarket Garmin unit that has been locally integrated in to the Freelander dash to give a factory fit appearance. Bluetooth is standard on all variants except the base TD4.

The SE can be optioned with any of the three engine derivatives and adds features such as six/four-way power leather seats and puddle lights in the exterior mirrors. HSE is available with the SD4 engine only and comes heavily loaded with equipment, while the Premium Luxury Pack gives you a Freelander with the works.

Land Rover says the extra equipment levels have been included with little change in pricing thanks to the low emissions and consumption levels of the new turbo diesel engine. This qualifies the Freelander for exemption from the Luxury Car Tax and offers a considerable saving to upper-end Freelander models, but this has been absorbed with the extra equipment.

Land Rover says the equipment and performance upgrades to the Freelander 2 range are incremental and should maintain rather than advance its sales, which amounted to 970 units in 2010 - the best sales result for the Freelander since 2001.

The revised specification will help position the Freelander in preparation for the Evoque in the range later in 2011, as pricing of the lower-spec Evoque is expected to overlap that of the top-end Freelander 2.

2011 Land RoverFreelander II pricing:
TD4$44,990
Si6 XS (a)$49,990
Si6 SE (a)$52,510
TD4 XS (a)$52,790
TD4 SE (a)$55,310
SD4 SE (a)$56,810
SD4 HSE (a)$65,854

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