Both engines are more powerful than their predecessors, with the diesel TD4 delivering a claimed 43 percent more power. There is no longer a choice of a manual transmission, with both engines matched to a six-speed auto transmission, with CommandShift - Land Rover's name for sequential gear shift. There is also a sport mode for more responsive performance. Freelander 2 is built with a monocoque body that is strong and rigid and build quality seemed better than most Land Rovers, perhaps because this vehicle is not built in the Solihull factory, but in the modernised Jaguar X-Type plant at Halewood, near Liverpool.
The suspension is fully independent and its ride and handling are just one of a number of pleasant surprises that reward the driver. While a 118kW engine doesn't seem particularly inspiring on paper, it delivers a surprising turn of speed and has a good launch feel. Torque is a healthy 400Nm , which provides plenty of pulling power across a broad rev range. Externally the Freelander looks sharp and modern with purposeful and compact body.
D4 turbo diesel engine
Land Rover addresses the deficiencies of previous Freelander engines with the 2.2-litre turbo diesel delivering 118kW of power - substantially up on the previous engine's 82kWs. Similarly, torque is up to an impressive 400Nm - a gain of 140Nm over its predecessor. Performance is substantially improved and while not a rocket ship, has respectable launch feel and is quick and nimble in most situations.
The TD4 engine features the latest third generation common rail fuel injection, a new Garrett variable nozzle turbo charger, a double walled cylinder block and sump mounted balance shafts. The result is impressive torque spread and a fuel economy of 87.5 litres per 100 kms. The torque curve delivers between 1000 rpm to 4500 rpm, rewarding the driver with a responsive drive.For even greater response hard acceleration delivers a short period of over boosting, where turbo pressure is increased.
The transmission also features a sport mode which also provides a more performance oriented drive. In sport mode, the auto transmission is programmed to hold low gears longer and to shift down more readily, to assist acceleration. The six-speed transmission provides seamless shift quality, thanks to a fully integrated electronic transmission control module. The module uses different gear change maps, depending on whether the transmission is in full auto, sport or manual CommandShift mode, and when the vehicle is using one of the special Terrain Response programs.
On road performance
Land Rover has achieved an impressive on road presence in the Freelander 2, with handsome and contemporary good looks, but more so in the ride quality it delivers. The driver has a commanding seating position, with a great over bonnet view of the road. Once mobile the Freelander is nimble and agile with precise rack and pinion steering. It is adjustable for both reach and rake, enabling the driver to achieve the most comfortable possible driving position.
In HSE spec the Freelander also comes with high quality leather trim and power adjustable seat with height and lumbar adjustment. Ignition is by a push button and the dash has a premium look to it. The hand brake is located close to the driver's hip and there is no centre console. The gear shift is a short throw and sequential gear selection is activated with a quick flick of the shifter to the left and choosing + and - to move up and down the gears manually as required.
In front of the gear shifter is the Terrain Response dial with its four modes - normal, gravel, mud and ruts and sand. This is a car that is easy and relaxing to drive, plus also has a fun factor not found in all SUVs. It is a joy to drive with the turbodiesel responsive and economical.