Land Rover Freelander vs Discovery Sport: 25 years of baby Landie Car News

Dubbed the Mad Max series, 22 prototypes clad in Austin Maestro van bodies were built in 1995 and 1996 to prove the durability of the drivetrain. They also ended any resistance from company alumni regarding a perceived lack of off-road capability.

Elsy says, “I remember Roger Crathorne [Land Rover’s off-road guru] driving a Maestro prototype at Eastnor and saying, “Damn, it works really well.”

Key to the capability was a clever adaptation of the existing ABS, which became Hill Descent Control for production. Electronic traction control applied braking force to any wheel losing traction and transmitted torque to the other side. With a torque transfer system that works side-to-side and front-to-rear, it allowed the Freelander to lead its off-road rivals.

“And the high times we faced at Eastnor proved his ability far beyond what a typical customer would put him through,” says Elsy.

How it won over critics

Former Rover Group PR manager Denis Chick recalls the unique approach he took when presenting the Freelander to the media in July 1997.

He says: “When I asked engineers about their role in developing the car, I realized how much passion there was for the project and how young the team was. So before the press actually drove the car, we invited them to Gaydon to meet these engineers.

“It was done in a speed-dating format, where each feature brought in components and presentations to tell the development story in three dimensions.

“Then two months later we held a larger global media event at the Las Dunas hotel near Marbella in Spain. We were there for five weeks, and each group led their Freelanders straight out of the hotel and on a beach, then on a dry river bed, giving them the ability to use the car’s Hill Descent Control and the new four-wheel-drive system.

Roger Crathorne designed the off-road course, which was cleverly created to look a lot trickier than it actually was. Journalists were also able to cover approximately 130 miles on beautiful Spanish roads.

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This notice was published: 2022-05-28 05:01:23

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