of the new
Freelander 2 can now
go green, thanks
to Land Rovers CO2
As for the rest?
JUDGING BY the amount of pressure being place upon the automotive and transport industry worldwide to reduce CO2 emissions, you might quite wrongly as it happens believe that motorists were
the main culprits of global warming.
Proposed future legislation from the EU Government for car makers to reduce still further the CO2 emissions of their vehicles really does not make factual sense and, if pursued, will put more automotive jobs at risk.
According to figures supplied by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, industry and agriculture is the biggest polluting sector of global society, producing 46.1 per cent of CO2 emissions. They are followed by the domestic and household sector that accounts for 28.8 per cent of emissions and in third place is road transport that produces 22.6 per cent. Remember that cars are lumped together here with far 'dirtier' vehicles the biggest culprits of which include the majority of public transport vehicles.
Because the automotive and road transport sector is such a high profile industry, the eco-police along with Government's tax gatherers are constantly targeting it.
All manufacturers have responded to reducing levels of CO2 emissions from their vehicles, but still they get asked to do better and customers are always being targeted to pay more in the way of tax pollution levies.
One of the more interesting automotive industry responses to reducing levels of CO2 has just come from Land Rover, with their innovative CO2 Offset programme.
Land Rover said they have cut emissions with each successive model
in its range, and that they are developing technologies to make further improvements. The CO2 emissions from its main manufacturing plant
at Solihull have been cut by 30 per cent over the past 10 years. The offset programme is a key part of an integrated approach to further reducing CO2 emissions. It will offset all of the CO2 generated by Land Rover's manufacturing operations and the first 45,000 miles of vehicle use by its UK customers. The ultimate goal is CO2 neutrality, with investments being made in renewable energy projects such as wind and solar, technology change and energy efficiency.
Therefore new Land Rover owners, whatever the model, can answer their critics with the fact that the first 45,000 miles they drive are CO2 neutral. Those who campaign and legislate against modern 4x4s on the grounds of pollution really need to reconsider their argument.
The new Freelander 2 is a good example of how Land Rover has improved its product line-up to meet customer and legislative require-ments. The old Freelander, launched in 1997, was unreliable and not particularly well built. But during its life span it still sold more vehicles
in the compact SUV sector than other competitors. This year around 19,000 new Freelanders will be sold in the UK, making it the largest single market in the world. Freelander has traditionally competed, and still does, against the like of the BMW X3, the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV-4 and all of these are now available as new models.
The latest Freelander range is available with two engine choices: a 3.2-litre six-cylinder petrol engine and a 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel unit, with the latter being the best-seller and the most sensible purchase.
New from the ground up, Freelander 2 now has to deliver outstanding on-road performance to compete with the likes of the BMW X3 while retaining the class-leading off-road ability of a true Land Rover. Today's customers also want the Land Rover family dynamic design, the purposeful 4x4 stance, a smart and spacious interior and an abund-ance of advanced technologies. In reality, customers now get all of these and apart from the X3 being an even better handling car on the road the Freelander 2 has all of them beaten for off-road capabilities, overall on- and off-road performance and refinement.
Prices start at a competitive £20,935 for the 2.2-litre TD4 S diesel and rise to £33,990 for the i6 HSE petrol. Perhaps the most cost effective model is the TD4 GS diesel priced at £23,435 which has a high level of specification, including Terrain Response and air conditioning.
The 230bhp i6 petrol engine provides a top speed of 124mph and
0-62mph acceleration in 8.9 seconds. Maximum torque is 234lb ft at 3,200rpm. Combined fuel economy is 25.2mpg with CO2 emission of 265g/km putting it in the high VED tax Band G. The engine is matched to a new six-speed automatic transmission, with Land Rover's Com-mandShift offering manual sequential gear changes when required. For livelier performance, there is also a driver-selectable Sport mode.
The diesel engine chosen for Freelander 2 is an all-new 2.2-litre four-cylinder unit from the Ford/PSA engine partnership. The 158bhp unit delivers peak torque of 295lb ft with over 148lb ft of torque from 1,000 all the way to 4,500 rpm. More than sufficient for it to tow a braked 2,000kg. The combined average fuel consumption is 37.7mpg with its 194g/km CO2 rating putting it in VED Band F. Two trans-missions are offered: a new six-speed manual gearbox and the same six-speed automatic transmission used with the petrol engine.
The interior package of Freelander 2 is a major improvement over the outgoing vehicle. Although only 50mm longer, the Freelander 2 has reasonable head, shoulder and legroom in both the front and rear although it is still not the roomiest of 'compact' SUVs. Large glass areas do, however, give the Freelander a spacious feel, but in reality with five passengers on board it is a bit 'snug'. The elevated command driving position a Land Rover hallmark and 'stadium' seating (where rear passengers sit slightly higher than front occupants) is retained. Boot space is vastly improved by 38 per cent to 755 litres with all five seats in use. And with the split/fold rear seat out of the way this increases to a very practical 1,670 litres.
The exterior and interior design of Freelander 2 is completely fresh yet the vehicle is instantly recognisable as a Land Rover. The body is a five-door monocoque structure, with a high level of torsional rigidity that benefits refinement, comfort and handling on-road as well as en-suring the vehicle is fit for serious off-roading. The suspension is fully independent and uses the most modern stability control systems, including Roll Stability Control, a new and sophisticated technology that helps mitigate the risk of a roll-over.
Freelander 2 is packed with new technologies to improve both on-
road and off-road performance. Land Rover's unique Terrain Response (standard on all but the entry-level model) makes off-roading easier. Other interesting technologies include a new full-time intelligent 4x4 system for superior traction and better on-road fuel economy, and the patented Gradient Release Control, which improves driver confidence and control when releasing the brakes on steep and slippery slopes.
Other desirable features include a keyless starter button, bi-xenon headlamps, adaptive front lighting, rain-sensing wipers and park distance control (both front and rear). A two-section panoramic sun-roof increases the cabin's airiness and air-conditioning is standard on all models. A full colour touch-screen DVD satellite navigation system
is also available. The choice of top-level audio systems includes DAB digital radio and 12-speaker Dolby Prologic Surround Sound. An auxiliary audio connection for iPods and MP3 players is standard on all models.
You can see why the new Freelander 2 has already won so many awards. In most areas it offers the 'complete package'. It handles road conditions really well, the suspension absorbs bumps and potholes easily, the handling and steering is precise and off-road it is nothing short of brilliant. The levels of equipment are excellent for the money and, of course, the residual values will be better than many of its com-petitors so it is, I believe, a good investment.
Although no ball-of-fire, the diesel engine does get the job done. It can be a bit sluggish at low acceleration speed until the turbocharger cuts in and the high gearing in fifth and sixth gears means the gearbox has to be used for overtaking slower moving traffic rather than using the engine torque or grunt to get the job done. To use the sophisticated all terrain 4x4 settings was really easy: just turning the dial to the desired setting was all that was needed and other facilities such as Descent Control are all easily engaged/disengaged by using a switch. It is very user friendly and generally left me pretty impressed.
Against? Not as roomy as some rivals and a 'busy' dashboard are more than offset by the new Freelander's desirable image, good on-road refinement and performance, excellent off-road capabilities and the build quality. Reassuring, too, is the three-year unlimited mileage warranty. Not forgetting that the Planet will also benefit from the first 45,000 miles of CO2 offset motoring. So if you want to be 'greener', then point your wellies in the direction of a Freelander 2. David Miles
Land Rover Freelander 2 TD4 HSE | £30,935
Maximum speed: 112mph | 0-62mph: 11.7 seconds
Overall test MPG: 29.8mpg | Power: 158bhp | Torque: 295lb ft