Freelander 2 really is a new car

Mabuyane Kekana

Mabuyane Kekana

After months of waiting, the new Freelander 2 has finally arrived and it looks better than ever.

There can be no dispute that the old Freelander is dead and buried, and that Land Rover has now come up with a completely new car where everything has been changed - except for the name.

In doing this Land Rover has drawn from the new car's stable mates. The new Freelander 2 clearly resembles the current Land Rover family. It has taken a bit of Range Rover and a bit of Discovery to create a child of the family.

The manufacturers have managed to get rid of the "female" looks and feel of the previous Freelander and have introduced a car that will be appreciated by all. And the new Freelander 2 offers enough legroom for both front and back seats.

But don't be fooled by the new model's size because it has all it takes to be called a 4x4.

The new car was put through a tough test in Upington, Northern Cape, last week, where it proved to everyone present that it was not a sissie, but a bull. It handled tough terrains with ease and showed great capability, combining agile, predictable and refined on-road behaviour with outstanding off-road ability.

The new vehicle comes equipped with a diesel engine, which is new for Freelander, but represents no decline in performance. The 2,2litre engine at the bottom of the price range produces a power output of 118kW and peak torque of 400Nm. Land Rover South Africa says its new kid will no longer compete with the likes of Toyota's Rav4 and the Honda CR-V, but will now take on the Germans, the X3 being one of its new competitors.

The new Freelander 2 is packed with technological innovation to improve both on-road and off-road performance. In addition to Land Rover's unique terrain response, which is standard across the range, and makes off roading easier, other interesting features include a new full-time and intelligent 4x4 system for superior traction and better on-road fuel economy, and the patented gradient release control, which improves driver control when releasing the brakes on steep and slippery slopes.

Advanced stability and traction aids, including electronic traction control, dynamic stability control and hill descent control have been fitted in the new model.

Active safety comes in the form of ABS with electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake assist and corner brake control.

The roll stability control system on board is a first for Land Rover.

Land Rover' s well-conceived, new Freelander 2 price range starts at R339 000 for the manual 2,2 litre diesel and it is good to know one can get a top-of-the-range Freelander 2 for less than R430000.