Freelander to get a significant upgrade

NovNewsLeaderThe Land Rover range takes another significant step upmarket with the announcement that the previously more modest, Freelander 2, is to get a premium uplift. While we read, wide-eyed, that the new Range Rover could possibly top a six-figure on the road price, news has arrived about changes to the Freelander for the 2013 model year. This includes two completely new models, the ‘sporty’ Dynamic and the top of the range HSE Lux.

Exterior changes include three new colours, all new 17inch alloy wheels now standard for the XS derivative, plus Xenon LED technology for the front and rear lamps, with detailing changes to the front grille, insert bars and bumper vents.

However, it is the interior where the changes have more effect, described by the official release as ‘soaring to new heights’. There’s a new centre console, where the original Terrain Response dial has been replaced by switches. The new Dynamic model has three distinctive new interior colour schemes; Ebony, Ivory and Pimento. A new instrument cluster includes a five-inch screen displaying all vehicle information. The Freelander now gets the Passive Start systems, replacing what is apparently called ‘the key docking system’. As with other Jaguar Land Rover premium products, therefore, you no longer need to turn the key, sorry, ‘dock’ the key, to start the vehicle. Provided you have the key somewhere on your person, a push button start brings the Freelander to life. To further ease the strain on the driver, there is the ‘Say What You See’ voice activation system which will prompt the driver visually with commands he or she needs to speak to control things like the audio, satnav, climate and telephone systems…

The excellent Meridian audio system is now available for the Freelander, available in two levels; the 380W has 11 speakers, while the awesome 850W has some 17. As you would expect this is AM/FM and DAB radio reception. The CD system comprises of a hard drive, which can store the equivalent of 10 standard audio CDs.

Engine-wise, the Freelander continues with the two diesel options; the 2.2-litre, 148bhp TD4 and the 188bhp SD4. These units were updated in 2011 and remain the same specification for 2013.

The Freelander range now starts with the S with cloth seats, through the range to the new Dynamic, which has a full body styling kit and gloss black finishes to the grille and venting. Most significant to this model are the 19inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels. Top of the range is the HSE Lux, which has Windsor leather seats, Grand Black lacquer finisher, premium carpet mats, and 19-inch ‘Diamond Turned Wheels’. All Freelander 2 models meet the five star Euro NCAP ratings for adult occupant protection, thanks to no less than seven air-bags.

Last year, at our 4×4 Of The Year group test, we noted that it was possible to spec a Freelander 2 and spend £45,000. As yet, there are no prices for these new premium upmarket versions, but it must be a distinct probability that you will be able to spend over £50k on a Freelander 2 in 2013. Excellent machine that it is, to ask the question why you would want to spend that much on a new Freelander 2 and not a top quality second-hand Discovery, or even Range Rover, probably misses the point. To further emphasise that it’s a global market for JLR these days, the new premium Land Rover Freelander 2 models were debuted at the Moscow International Motor Show at the end of August… And once again, all the initial launch photographs were of left-hand drive models.

One could hope, perhaps a little despairingly and certainly naively, that with the Land Rover range moving steadily upmarket, something will be launched at the ‘bottom’ of the range, to prop up these mighty models. Is that the position for the Defender replacement perhaps? Like many enthusiasts, we wait with baited breath, and sadly incompatible bank balances, to see exactly what is coming next from the mighty steamroller that is Jaguar Land Rover.

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