It’s funny that, for a car that’s been out of production for so long, many people still seem to have strong opinions about the Land Rover Freelander. The early ones, especially, have a reputation for biblical unreliability and fragility – as a consequence, when I announced to the world that the new AROnlinemobile is a 2001 Freelander TD4, friends, readers and acquaintances either congratulated me for my bravery, or commiserated with me for a gross act of stupidity.
Much of the Freelander’s reputation for unreliability is justified. It might be a clever concept, but the build quality left something to be desired – and, when you’re sinking your own (or your company’s) money into a premium-priced product like this (when new), dependability and quality should be a given. However, 15 years on and at banger money, one’s expectations are a little bit lower, and the odd bit of flakiness here and there can easily be forgiven.
The first thing I should say in response to the comments on the original posting for this car is that it is front-wheel drive only, and the work has been done by a Land Rover specialist. It was done in the hands of its previous owner and, as such, I am happy to proceed with the car in this form – even though winter is on the way and its boosty turbo was prone to deliver plenty of wheelspin if you were injudicious with the throttle. I speak in the past tense about this, as the seriously worn front tyres have been replaced by a new set of Bridgestones, which have restored the car’s planted feel.
In the month or so that I’ve had it, around 1000 miles have been racked up, and so far there have been no maladies, no breakdowns and nothing has dropped off. In fact, it’s quietly impressing as a roomy, capable and pleasurable hack that’s both good to sit in traffic in and cart the dog to muddy fields. Since I picked it up, I’ve rewired the stereo, fitted a new head unit, and – as previously stated – stuck on some decent Bridgestones.
There are a few little bits and pieces to do, such as replace a broken dashboard switch, fit a new engine cover and get some bumper care on those huge swathes of grey plastic used for the bumpers and wheelarch extensions. The front door speakers are also inoperative and the aerial is missing – both common failures for Freelander MkI owners. For those expecting reams and reams of copy about how rubbish Freelanders are, this might prove to be a little disappointing.
And long may it stay that way.