This is the new Land Rover Freelander, or what photographic spy agency Automedia calls the ‘baby Discovery.’ Why the ‘baby’ reference. Because Automedia’s photographers say the new vehicle is significantly larger than the current Freelander.
The five-door is believed to be based on the same platform that underpins the Range Rover Evoque. These photos were taken in Scandanavia. Even the camouflage doesn’t hide the design influences, clearly a mix of Evoque and Range Rover Sport.
There’s a prominent grille flanked by sweptback headlights, a sloping roofline, and a tailgate-mounted spoiler above a dual exhaust system.
Land Rover has modernised the Freelander by using the family design cues, while giving it a more rugged and practical appeal than the similar-sized Evoque.
The four-wheel-drive specialist believes demand is there for both vehicles. It predicts that the global SUV market will grow from current annual sales of 14 million units to 22 million by 2020. To capitalise on the predicted growth, Land Rover has come up with three categories: luxury, leisure and dual-purpose.
Luxury is looked after by the Range Rover line-up, set to be soon joined by a super-luxury long-wheelbase model and a seven-seater Evoque. The upcoming Defender replacement is the dual-purpose model in the range, with the Discovery and new Freelander representing leisure.
Expect two versions of the Freelander – a five-seater and seven-seater, both using a scalable steel platform being developed by Land Rover test sites in the UK, Germany, Dubai, the US and Sweden.
Freelander is expected to come with a more basic and hard-wearing cabin, with tough plastics and more durable fabrics.
It will also have fewer dashboard buttons than the current Freelander, thanks to a central touchscreen similar to that in the latest Range Rover.
Engines are likely to be revised versions of the current 2.2-litre diesel and 2.0-litre petrol units but mated to a new nine-speed gearbox. Freelander will get the latest Haldex four-wheel-drive system, controlled by a version of the automatic Terrain Response 2 system.
The new model is expected to go on the market next year. A more fuel-efficient front-wheel-drive model will again be available in some markets.