Land Rover Freelander TD4_e HSE

Stop-start system promises to revolutionise 4x4 favourite

Few brands can match Land Rover’s off-road heritage. But with green issues becoming more of a concern, no firm has more at stake. Bosses are working hard to minimise the environmental impact of the maker’s products – and the latest eco-friendly offering is this stop-start Freelander. 

As with most rival set-ups, the function operates by cutting the power when the car is stationary and the driver selects neutral. Dip the clutch and the engine fires smoothly back to life – although we found it wasn’t keen to operate with the air-conditioning and other power-sapping devices engaged.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Freelander

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On the outside, the TD4_e looks no different to any other Freelander. Our top-spec HSE model scores highly in the style stakes, appearing robust and classy.

Inside, it’s equally appealing. Although it doesn’t have the style of the Volvo, or the car-like feel of the Volkswagen, there’s no shortage of charm. The sensible layout, chunky switches and tough build enable it to blend usability with relaxed luxury.

Finding a comfortable driving position is easy, and you get a commanding view. Rear passengers fare well, too. Legroom is a match for the XC60’s, and while the narrow back doors make access tight, the flat floor means the Freelander feels spacious.

The only drawback is the boot. With the seats in place, it’s shorter and narrower than the Volvo’s load bay, plus the wheelarches intrude into the space. Fold the seats flat, though, and the Land Rover delivers a healthy 1,670 litres of carrying capacity.

If you want to hit the rough stuff, the four-wheel-drive Freelander is the best choice.

Its mud-plugging ability is head and shoulders above its rivals – and it feels every inch a ‘real’ Land Rover. On the road, it can’t match the agility of the Tiguan, but the supple ride and composed handling help the model provide a broader spread of abilities.

Although there is some body roll, it’s well controlled and grip is excellent, while the manual gearbox is slick and easy to use. The engine is noisy at idle, yet extremely refined on the move.

Throttle response is smooth and the power curve flat. So even though the Land Rover can’t match the urge of the Volvo, its performance never feels sluggish.

Few cars are more relaxing to drive than the Land Rover. Add in its impressive off-road ability and comfortable cabin, and it’s clear the rugged Brit is still a class act.

The trouble is, despite being fitted with the new Stop/Start system, the TD4_e is still the dirtiest of our contenders –and that could cost it overall victory.

Details

Chart position: 2WHY: The Freelander now features stop-start technology, but is it the most eco-friendly?

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