We’ve driven the Freelander 2 TD4_e before, of course, but it has somehow managed to wriggle out of being subjected to the 385-mile LRO Real World Test route. Until now. We’re about to find out how its stop-start technology copes in everyday driving conditions on motorways, A and B roads, greenlanes and city traffic.
On the open road it behaves like a standard manual Freelander 2 but, as soon as you come to a halt, select neutral and release the clutch, the engine shuts down. Then, the instant you depress the clutch to select a gear, the engine restarts.
The electronics that govern the engine and transmission have new software designed to achieve lower CO2 emissions; 179g/km instead of 194g/km. This means you save on road tax: you’ll pay £175 a year, compared to £215 with the normal Freelander 2 TD4 manual.
Even the tyres have been improved to give less rolling resistance, to improve fuel economy further.
Brimming the tank at 06.55 at the start of the day, I join the endless stream of traffic trundling north on the A1; the little green ‘eco’ light on the instrument panel flashing every time it thinks I should change up a gear. At first it’s a fun novelty but later in the day it gets a bit irritating.
In the two-and-a-half hours it takes to reach my favourite part of the route, through the Yorkshire Dales, the stop-start system is called upon only a couple of times. If you're lucky enough to do most of your driving on free-flowing roads, you probably wouldn’t reap much benefit from it.
The 2.2 TD4 is a superbly flexible engine, always eager to get going. Coupled to the six-speed auto it’s a relaxing drive, but this is a six-speed manual and I’m kept busy shifting between third, fourth and occasionally fifth as the little green light blinks at me. Sixth just isn’t feasible on the tinier roads in the Dales. I use fifth gear and occasionally third, ignoring the little green eco light; it can go blink.
After the beautiful meander through the Dales to Bainbridge, I reach the first greenlane. Many of the holes have been filled in with top-grade hard-core; it’s good to see evidence of official maintenance on this terrific route. The steps at the far end of the lane need respect, especially in a Freelander 2 with its relatively low ground clearance.
Suitably fortified at the cheese shop in Hawes, I brace myself for the teeming metropolis of Bradford and its forest of traffic lights. This is where the stop-start system should really come into its own.
Bizarrely, the traffic isn’t too bad for once, but the stop-start does its job when called upon, saving precious fuel each time it does so.
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