This 4x4 is no guilt trip

With fuel prices at eye-watering levels and the 'green lobby' more influential than ever, manufacturers of 'big beast' automobiles recognise that conspicuous consumption has become as anti-social as smoking in public places, writes Peter Franzen.

With fuel prices at eye-watering levels and the 'green lobby' more influential than ever, manufacturers of 'big beast' automobiles recognise that conspicuous consumption has become as anti-social as smoking in public places, writes Peter Franzen.

Land Rover has a worldwide reputation for producing the most accomplished 4x4s for both the practical and luxury ends of the market. But in the past they have not been especially green in terms of emissions, or frugal with fuel.

In recognition of this, Land Rover has introduced the Freelander 2 TD4e 2.2-litre turbo diesel, the first sport utility vehicle in Britain with stop-start technology. The result is a Freelander that reduces carbon dioxide emissions by almost 8pc and improves fuel consumption by 3.8mpg over the previous manual model. Land Rover engineers have measured fuel savings approaching 20pc in heavy urban traffic. But of course, stop-start is not available with an automatic transmission.

The TD4e is also the first Land Rover to achieve full End of Life Vehicle Certification, meaning that 85pc of the vehicle is reusable or recyclable, and it offsets 100pc of its manufacturing assembly CO2 emissions.


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So the brand that was once synonymous with green fields can hold its head up high again and take a deep breath of fresher air.

So what about stop-start? It means the engine cuts out when the vehicle is stationary, and neutral is selected; and starts again when the clutch pedal is depressed. So the car is not idling wastefully in traffic, thus reducing its overall carbon output.

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I must confess that it does take a bit of faith for someone who used to have an old Austin A40 that regularly 'died' on tickover and refused to start again. But after a couple of days I gained confidence in the ability of the Freelander to start again and the heart rate slowed. All electronic systems inside the car remain uninterrupted while the engine's off.

I thought a trip to the Scottish borders might be a good test for the Freelander with a bit of Edinburgh traffic thrown in to give the stop-start a chance to really show its credentials. On the motorway sections of the journey the fuel consumption struggled at around 34mpg. However, along the 'pleasant' single track roads that lead out of Norfolk and through Lincolnshire to the A1, it recorded a useful 41.5mpg. Overall it returned 39.1mpg.

The Freelander never felt like a lumbering beast and was every bit as comfortable as a car for both driver and passengers - those sitting in the rear get a great view of the road ahead because of the height of the rear seat. Cabin space is generous although the full-size spare under the boot floor means that space for luggage is not generous with all seats up.

Like most new models these days, the current Freelander is bigger than its predecessor with prices starting at �21,875 for the entry-level S model. The styling has evolved and now looks like 'Honey we shrunk the Range Rover'.

The test model was the top-specification HSE which comes in at �33,425 and as you might expect for that wad comes with the 'Full Monty', including leather seats, alloy wheels, climate control, satellite navigation and Bluetooth phone.

For those who up till now have always wanted to own a 4x4 but felt uneasy about green credentials, this Freelander goes a long way to assuage the guilt.

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