The Land Rover Freelander 2 is the kind of car we at BSM love. It isn’t too large, is comfortable, it can handle an off-road course pretty well and it has character. It’s the latter that we look for in a car and the Freelander 2 has it in spades. But there were a couple of things we didn’t like; take the handling or the rather bland looks or the price tag, for instance. We also felt it could do with a few more ponies under the hood.
It seems Land Rover was waiting for the right moment and it all came together in May this year, when the first of the India-assembled Freelander 2s started rolling out. The changes were there to see – the front end has been tweaked and you now get a fully body-coloured license plate holder, new headlamps and marginally tweaked tail-lamps. There’s also more power on offer now and two power options instead of one. You get a 2.2-litre 150 bhp version for the SE and 190 bhp for the HSE, in the process reducing the number of trim levels from three to two. Importantly, there’s a change in the price tag too – the SE is now priced some Rs 4 lakh less than the previous iteration, while the HSE is nearly Rs 6 lakh cheaper.
The new pricing, coupled with the addition of GPS, a new touchscreen and USB playback capability meant we had to put the new car through its paces and after going back and forth with the folk at the Land Rover press office for what seemed like ages, the vehicle finally did arrive.
The first thing that catches your eye is the revised bodywork on the nose that has made the Freelander less ‘Lego toy’ and more ‘Auto Art scale model’. In white, as on our test vehicle, the Freelander 2’s new-found lines are more visible and make it look softer and a tad more appealing.
On the inside, the Freelander 2 hasn’t changed much. The dials continue to be green backlit, and while they are easy to read, they can be a tad boring. The centre console hasn’t changed much, apart from the touchscreen and the addition of a USB and SD card port for GPS. We find the current setup a bit confusing, especially since the old display for the audio continues along with the new touch screen. The dials have a nice rubberised feel to them and are large and easy to use, though the interiors on the whole don’t give you a new-age feel.
It’s in the motor that the biggest differences are found. The 2.2-litre, PSA-sourced engine may be loud on start up and it settles a bit after the engine has warmed up, but the clatter doesn’t disappear entirely and is quite audible, especially on the outside. The additional 30 bhp in the HSE means that performance times have improved. The dash to 60 kph now comes up in 3.68 seconds, while the tonne moves from being in the low tens to nearly 9 seconds. A quick glance at passing speeds tells you that it is quicker in that area too. A slightly higher top speed of just over 190 kph is a near 8 kph improvement over the previous car. The gearbox is a bit slow at times, but if you are looking at driving in a relaxed manner it will shift seamlessly and with little fuss. Want to drive with a bit more vigour? You are better off shifting into manual mode, though for once, we really do miss paddle shifters.
The Freelander 2’s best bit has been its ride quality and that hasn’t changed. It rides softly and the long travel of the suspension, short overhangs and high ground clearance let you explore areas that you otherwise wouldn’t. The flipside is that handling still hasn’t changed so what you get is a car that has decent grip levels, though the steering doesn’t provide much by way of feel, and it still feels top heavy and exhibits a fair amount of body roll.
At Rs 40.4 lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai, the Freelander 2 HSE has a price tag that is comfortable for most potential buyers. With most of its shortcomings sorted, the Freelander 2 is a much better buy. And yes, our love for it hasn’t changed. Not one bit.
Displacement: 2179cc, I-4, turbodiesel
Max power: 187 bhp@3500 rpm
Max torque: 42.8 kgm@1750 rpm
Specific output: 85.8 bhp/litre
Power to weight: 99.6 bhp/tonne
Torque to weight: 22.7 kgm/tonne
Transmission: 6-speed auto
Type: Rack and pinion with power assist
Turning radius: 5.7 m
Front: MacPherson struts, anti-roll bar
Rear: MacPherson struts, anti-roll bar
Front: Ventilated discs
Rear: Ventilated discs
ABS: Standard with EBD & ESP
(F/R): 235/65 R17, tubeless
L/W/H (mm): 4500/2195/1740
Wheelbase: 2660 mm
Track (F/R): 1611/1624 mm
Kerb weight: 1805 kg
Boot volume: 755 litres
Tank capacity: 68 litres
0-60 kph: 3.68 secs
0-100 kph: 9.02 secs
80-120 kph: 6.8 secs
100-140 kph: 9.4 secs
Top speed: 190.2 kph
0-100 kph-0: 14.0 secs
Overall: 11.4 kpl
Price: Rs 40.4 LAKH