Saturday 1 April 2006

2006 Land Rover Freelander Caught Nearly Undisguised (LR2)

Land Rover will unveil this new Freelander at the British Motor Show this summer; it's expected to go on sale in the autumn in time for the 2007 model-year. Longer, wider, taller and with increased ground clearance, it's altogether larger and more luxurious than the current model, as Land Rover intends to steal back some of the ground it has lost to the likes of the BMW X3 and its much-improved soft-roading rivals such as the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan X-Trail, both selling well. This Freelander is mechanically an all-new model, and not exactly an all-unique Land Rover: it is based on a version of the Ford 'C1' platform, which also underpins the Focus, C-MAX, Volvo S40/V50, Mazda3 and so on, and it will have a sister model, the Volvo XC50. The XC50 and Freelander will share their engines, to include Volvo-supplied 2.8 and 3.0-litre six-cylinder petrol units and a 2.3-litre Ford-PSA diesel. A six-cylinder diesel engine is also rumoured. However, much of the exterior design will retain a specific Land Rover flavour. Details such as the clamshell bonnet, air intakes in the front wings and vertical taillight clusters are lifted straight from the latest Range Rover and Discovery models, and the headlights will also bear a strong resemblance to the larger Landies.For all it's built around a car-like monococque structure (as is the Range Rover, these days) the Freelander should have enough off-road ability to suit most buyers - Land Rover is keen not to debase the brand-name's image. The chassis is stiffer than before, with higher ground clearance, and whilst the Freelander will not get the full complement of low-ratio gearbox, locking differentials and suchlike, it will have a selectable part-time four-wheel-drive system and electronic aids such as Hill Descent Control to help out in more challenging situations. There have been rumours that a two-wheel drive only model will be sold in the US, but this seems unlikely. Shots of the interior show a much-upgraded, more modern cabin, with tasteful black upholstery. The Freelander has been criticised for poor quality compared to its more modern rivals, so expect this issue to be addressed: greater attention to detail this time around, we think.

I can't wait untill the new Land Rover Freelander hits the roads. This will be called the LR2 over in the US. Land Rover Defender will be called the LR1, Freelander LR2, Discovery LR3

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