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Before we get to the Freelander 2 TD4e, I have some rather heavy trunks to unpack.
First was a beaming “friend” who said he just loved the look of my new Freeloader. I just know that beneath that insincere smile he was having a go at the honourable reputation of journalists.

Then there was the incident, back in the camo days, when I barked out orders for a rifleman to fire an Icarus rocket from the Land Rover behind me. It hit the roof, ignited a coil of machine gun belts under the dash and ended up in a frightening yet colourful display of whizzing tracer bullets, leaping flames and thick black smoke from the melting tyres.

More recently there was the painful and slow trip to Sodwana Bay in a Defender. My knees are still in recovery. Don’t get into one of these if you are over six foot!

So could the new Freelander 2 help to overcome some of that emotional baggage from the past?

Well. Looks can go a long way…and the economy sized Land Rover cuts a modern and angular figure in the Sandton City parking garage. With the big fellas, I think Land Rover try to walk a tightrope between the rugged past and a refined, snazzy future – something like a George Clooney my wife would say.

Inside the cabin there’s a lot of driver space (Sodwana here I come!) and the instrumentation is handy and efficient and a tad severe as you would expect. But to be honest, the audio system just isn’t up to scratch for a small 4×4 that costs close to 400k.

You may notice the “e” in the title – that’s to show this model is part of their “e Terrain Technologies” – yet another green initiative from the motor industry. We just need the bright sparks at Eskom to be as proactive.

This is one that you can actually feel. It’s called a stop/start…and no jokes from the anti Land Rover lobby! If you’re in heavy traffic, slip this 2,2 litre diesel into neutral and the engine cuts out! A jarring moment if you’re used to the more mature models…

But push in the clutch and it springs, or possibly gurgles, back into life, saving about 8% on CO2 emissions and giving you a footprint to envy. And don’t worry if you’re in mountaineering mode, the stop/start is automatically turned off.

One thing that does move very slowly on the new Freelander 2 is the fuel guage. They claim 8,5 litres in traffic and a low, low 5,7 on the freeway – funny name for a road with all the tolls these days.

While you might be chalking up some wonderful economy figures, I would like to feel a touch more grunt from the TD4e. I’m all for saving planet earth but it does feel rather “pap” to put it bluntly.

So has the new Freelander 2 healed all wounds? Maybe not yet. But we are on the right road.

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