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Land Rover Freelander stop-start: Test Drive

Date: 01 December 2008   |   Author: Richard Yarrow

Category: Small 4x4
P11D price: £32,345 (est.)
Key rival: BMW X3

Not only is the new Freelander the world's first 4x4 with stop-start technology, it's also the most fuel-efficient Land Rover ever to make production.

All diesel manual Freelanders will get the eco-tech, which cuts the engine when the car's at a standstill, as standard from the May on-sale date.

Stop-start is activated every time the car is switched on, although it can then be disabled via a dashboard button, and it's designed to reduce emissions and fuel consumption in urban traffic.

It's simple to use: put the gearstick in neutral, take your foot off the clutch and the revs drop to zero; push the clutch and the car fires up again. Drivers, though, will hear the sound of the engine turning over because the system uses the car's starter motor, and this feels slightly outdated in comparison to something like the BMW equivalent, which is much quieter.

Land Rover, however, is testing prototypes with belt-driven integrated starter generator technology, which will cure the problem. The improved system will mean stop-start will be added to Land Rover's larger powertrains and auto transmissions, but don't expect it until 2011.

Compared with the outgoing TD4, fuel economy on the TD4e goes up from 37.7 to 42.2mpg. The car also get an 8% cut in CO2, from 194 to 179g/km, but Land Rover engineers say they've measured it as high as 18% in heavy urban traffic.

A 'gear shift up' indicator, which appears in the instrument cluster has also been added for the first time, allowing drivers to make changes at the optimum time.

Stop-start is the first of Land Rover's E-terrain technologies, developed via an £800 million investment over five years. The idea is to further reduce CO2 output, and will include diesel and plug-in hybrids in the future.