I don't get on with LRO's Freelander 1. I think the 2in suspension lift has spoiled its handling. The last two trips I made in it ended on the back of an AA truck. But I do enjoy the Real World Test route. It's a day out of the office with a clear agenda; it's like a mini-endurance run with questions.
Model: Freelander 1
Engine: 1.8-litre petrol
Power: 118bhp at 5000rpm
Torque: 121lb ft at 2750rpm
Factory combined mpg: 24.6
LRO RWT combined mpg: 29.1
380 MILES TO GET THE FULL LOWDOWN...
What’s it like in rush-hour traffic?
Good visibility all-round, but its get-up-and-go from busy junctions is only just adequate. Drivetrain vibration under acceleration and at speeds under 55mph isn’t good.
How does it cope with road hills?
If the six-speed Freelander 2 has too many gears, too closely spaced, then our five-speed 1.8-litre petrol Freelander 1 doesn’t have enough. There’s so little torque from the K-series engine that I find myself spending a lot of time in third and fourth just trying to maintain reasonable progress. Fifth gear is only possible on virtually flat sections of road, provided the engine is pulling more than 2000rpm.
How does it handle greenlanes?
The suspension lift gives more confidence on gentle Yorkshire Dales lanes seeded with random rocks and ridges, and nothing comes close to hitting underneath. While bouncy and nervous on-road, the ride is actually reasonable off-tarmac at a steady 12mph. There’s still lots of bumping noises and tyre rumble.
How could our Freelander be improved?
Fix the vibration, that’s number one. Better dampers to control the feather-light handling and cruise control would be handy. I’d ditch the suspension lift.
What’s it like to drive on tarmac?
Trundling up the A1, it holds its own easily enough but the suspension lift makes it feel nervous. Once on the wriggling A-roads of North Yorkshire, this skittishness becomes unwelcome oversteer. The engine makes a rasping noise through its rattling exhaust, drawing too much attention when all you’re doing is pulling away from a junction.
What's the point?
LRO’s Real World Test gives an independent, ‘real world’ fuel economy figure based on a varied and enjoyable 380-mile route, rather than sitting on a dyno.
It’s a big drive to do in one day, so we get up early and start by brimming the fuel tank at a garage on the A1 in Lincolnshire.
By doing the same at the end, it’s easy to get a precise ‘combined mpg’ figure – meaning a blend of motorways, fast A-roads, country roads, a couple of long greenlanes and a rush-hour city crawl. And, we find out more along the way!
Our test route
Bloody Oaks services, Stamford > A1 north Knaresborough > Arncliffe > Kettlewell > Middleham > Bainbridge > Stalling Busk (byway) > Hubberholme > Cam High Road (byway) > Wensleydale Creamery, Hawes > Settle > Silsden > Bradford > M62 east > Ferrybridge > A1 south > Bloody Oaks services, Stamford