There’s no mistaking the second- generation Freelander, or the Land Rover Freelander 2 as it is called, for anything other than a Land Rover product. A scaled-down version of a full-sized Range Rover from the front, with its distinctive design cues and silhouette, this really does look like a chip off the old block. It has that square-rigged, serious, off-roader stance, with brick-like dimensions. Then there’s all the very attractive detailing – the deep cut-crystal like headlamps, the cliff-like bonnet with LAND ROVER in big relief on the upper lip, the intricate grille, big front wheel arch and that Range Rover Sport-like vent behind the front wheels. The Freelander certainly looks the business.
However, the Freelander is devoid of a traditional SUV’s ladder frame.
Based on Ford’s C1 big-car platform, the Freelander uses a transversely located motor and has independent suspension all round for better on-road handling. The Freelander’s 4WD system is more biased towards off-road driving than on-road traction and grip. Using a custom-made Haldex transfer case, the pre-engagement of the system at start-up reduces wheelspin from a stop on all surfaces and the system can kick in as soon as 15 degrees of wheel slip are encountered. This allows for a more front-biased 4WD system that is more fuel efficient too. Also on the car is Land Rover’s very effective and unique Terrain Response control that has four settings; just what the doctor ordered for novice off-road drivers. The four settings are ‘General’, ‘Grass/Gravel and Snow’ for firm but slippery conditions, ‘Mud and Ruts’ when some amount of wheelspin is needed, and ‘Sand’ where it is essential to maintain momentum. Terrain Response adjusts not just the four-wheel-drive system, but the throttle and the gearbox as well. And like every good off-roader, the LR is super-stiff; according to the company only the Discovery and the Porsche Cayenne are stiffer. It also gets Hill Descent Control and a host of other safety systems like Roll Stability Control, courtesy Volvo. This is because the engineering of Ford’s EUCD or C1 platform was shared between Volvo for safety, Ford for ride and handling and Mazda for chassis stiffness and weight reduction.