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Test Drives
17 Apr 09 18:05
The BEST 4x4x FAR - Landrover Freelander 2
CarSanook.com
John K. Lindgren
Land Rover ... the classic name in cars for the extraordinary driver...

Visit Land Rover
Me an Anglophile? I don't think so. Do I really need to understand cricket? Not my DNA! The British cuisine? Black Blood Pudding and Kidney Pie leaves me cold, except a pint Guinness beer. And Phil Collins music sucks! Regarding time; I don't like AM/PM,(ante meridiem -post meridiem, the colonial dated and confusing time system. It's 12:00! - not 12 PM!) - but I love the Land Rover.

Motorcars of the landed gentry
And I adore those bespoke English cars; (the Brits still call them motorcars) Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, MINI, (always upper case) and a pearl white long Rolls Royce with suicide doors. The first Land Rover I remember was in Sweden. It was dark army green macho, muscular, and bloody expensive looking a 4x4 Range Rover owned by a two meter tall Estonian veterinary doctor who smoked a straight black Dunhill pipe.

Rock stars and pig farmers
In the 80s came Land Rover Discovery "Disco" and in 1997 the new baby was born: the "Landy" Freelander. The first global compact, luxury SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) which soon became Europe's top selling 4 x 4. The Best 4 x 4 x Far being driven by royalty, rock stars, pig farmers and well-heeled Knightsbridge housewives it remained in production until the end of 2005.The long awaited second generation Freelander 2 was rolled out in 2006. Sixty years after the appearance of original, agricultural and military Land Rover with the steering wheel in the middle.

FREELANDER_2_01_HR_w670.jpg
 New Freelander 2
Freelander 2 HSE Engine
For our Bangkok and hinterland test drive a shining a new santori black Land Rover Freelander 2 HSE was provided. The top-of-the-line version powered by a smooth 2,2-liter TD4 turbo diesel connected to a six speed automatic gearbox.

Styling cues
This is no "minor change" or "face lift" job but a completely new Freelander and the design cues reflects the styling of the two big brothers Discovery (THB 6,2 million) and the super premium Range Rover Sport (THB 7,4 million) one of David Beckham's favorite vehicles. And if you park them the Freelander's the old and new side by side you'll see the differences are more striking. The new model is taller and wider and its wheelbase (distance between front and rear axel) gained 101.6 mm, liberating needed interior space for passengers and luggage. The iconic heritage of the "Landy" is immediately noticeable. It looks distinctly British like all Land Rovers: the Defender (military version); the Discovery and the Range Rover Sport are all a testimony of six decades fire proof off-road presence from all the continents of the world. In times of wan and piece.
FREELANDER_2_76_HR_w380.jpg
Interior
Climb inside and first you'll notice the scent of sumptuous premium leather. This is a luxurious, comfortable and safe cabin with all the bells and whistles; MP3, premium Alpine Dolby surround stereo sound (14 speakers!) and Bluetooth (hand's free) telephone integration, multi function steering wheel and plenty of cubbie holes for personal items like flasks and mobile phones. There is even a fashionable glass-top electric sun-roof (moon-roof). The driver's seat in the new Freelander 2 is comfortable, supportive, electrically adjustable and comes with a commanding view. This Land Rover remains a proper five-seater with 755-litre cargo capacity which can be further increased thanks to easy-folding rear seats. Here lies one of the biggest improvements in the new Freelander - a proper spacious trunk (or boot in British English!)

On the tarmac Bangkok
It's time to hit the road. Off we go. Negotiating Bangkok's chronic "rott-titt" is a piece of cake. Excellent view and plenty of power on tap from the smooth and responsive 2,2-litre turbocharged four cylinder diesel. The Freelander TD4 recorded an average 11 kpl fuel consumption during the test drive. Compare this to the big American fuel guzzling SUV' only 3-4 kilometer per liter! After passing Pantip Plaza we turn left to Phahonyothin Road aka Thailand's Route 1, the main trunk road to the North. It begins at Victory Monument in Bangkok and runs northward from the central plains until the highlands of the Burmese border, with a total length of 1,005 km. Once outside Bangkok the highway cruising and effortless overtaking starts immediately. The Rangsit area is the landscape of universities, warehouses, industrial estates and trucks; six-wheelers, ten-wheelers and pick-ups make their presence on the road.

Driving in Bann Nook
Ayudhaya-Angthong-Singburi a refurbished four-six lane Thai 'autobahn'. The A1 is the main artery to the North. Smooth motorway driving all the way to Uthai Thani town. Here we are overtaking all the time. The acceleration is swift and linear. Powerful. Suddenly outside Nakhon Sawan province the speedometer hits 180 km/h! Mother-in-law with handbag comfortably seated in back says, "Oh, oh are we really going hundred and eighty kilometers per hour? Feels like 80! What kind of car is this? The common-rail turbo diesel delivers the necessary power and torque at all times, be it during acceleration and overtaking. Before Kampheng Phet province (300 kilometers from Bangkok) as the sun sets a well known landmark appears on the right: the red brick Beer Chang brewery with a capacity of 1 billion liters of the amber liquid per annum. And soon darkness arrives in the hinterland. We have now left the A1 at road marker 338, left turn to road number 117 direction Klong Lan National Park.

Safety
Did you know that 60 percent of the traffic accidents happen in the night.
The head lights, the powerful bi-xenon high-intensity discharge lamps is what when you need when driving at night in up-country 'bann-nook'. And the ride in the Freelander remains on the comfy side with a good body control even on the pot hole filled, dirt roads. And if I want to take mother-in-law for some serious off-roading the Freelander is equipped with Land Rover's user friendly Terrain Response System (TRS). You can access traction control settings with the twist of a yellow knob on the center console, selecting General Driving, Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand to match. Plus HDC (hill descent control) And safety comes with airbags seven (7) totally including a new driver's knee airbag. This compact SUV has been awarded top 5-star rating in the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NACAP).


Verdict The Freelander 2 Td4 is imported in completely built-up (CBU) form and has a price of 3,99 million THB. On the glossy press kit I see Land Rover's new motto: "GO BEYOND" I still prefer the old "THE BEST 4 x 4 x FAR Saatchi & Saatchi tagline. (And the digital clock on the instrument panel reads: 22:00 - not 10 PM!) I don't like AM/PM - but I love the "Landy".
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