Land Rover’s Freelander makes its world debut next Tuesday at the Frankfurt motor show, after a 33-month development time and a cost of £450m.
The small off-roader, priced at between £15,000 and £20,000, does away with a hefty low-ratio gearbox that normally provides engine braking for 4x4s on steep descents, and instead uses a patented electronic ABS system that will do the same job, in forward or reverse gears.
Freelander is the first Land Rover without a conventional chassis. It uses a monocoque steel body, like a normal passenger car, but with plastic composite front wings.
Land Rover will build up to 75,000 Freelanders per year, with production starting this autumn. The car has been 95% sourced from UK component suppliers, and is powered by Rover petrol and diesel engines built in Longbridge and Solihull.