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Land Rover's original 'Mom's taxi', the Freelander, has taken a bit of a back seat lately to its more glamorous cousin the Evoque - especially as the latter now has its own stylist, in the shape of the world's skinniest mother-of-four - but that's all about to change on Wednesday 29 August when the 'nipped-and-tucked' Freelander 2 makes its world debut at the Moscow auto show.
New xenon LED headlights incorporate a new signature graphic in the front running lights, with matching new LED tail lights at the rear, to go with a new body kit and 17” alloy rims.
The grille and foglight bezels are now bright-finished and there are paint detailing changes to the grille surround, insert bars and fender vents.
NEW CENTRE CONSOLE
Inside there's a new centre console with rocker switches replacing the original Terrain Response rotary knob and a shutter over extra storage space, a 180mm colour touch-screen and upmarket audio from Meridian.
A new 125mm screen between the primary instruments displays primary vehicle-related information such as temperature and fuel levels, gear positions and Terrain Response mode, while toggle switches on the steering wheel take you through straightforward drop-down menus to access the car's set-up,
The space normally taken up by the handbrake lever has been freed by the adoption of an 'intelligent' electric parking brake that adjusts brake force according to the slope the vehicle is parked on - and even takes into account whether the brakes are hot or cold.
If they're hot when you park, the system will 'wake up' periodically to ensure the car doesn't lose braking force as the brakes cool down. The parking brake can't be released unless there's somebody in the driver's seat, but can be used as an emergency brake; if you switch it on while the car is moving it will automatically select the most stable braking method using the ABS sensors, and gently bring the car to a halt.
HIT THE BUTTON AND GO
It's no longer necessary to slip the electronic 'key' into a docking slot; as long as the key is somewhere inside the new Freelander, you can hit the button and the car will start.
The new rear-view camera not only shows you dynamic lines representing the boundaries of the vehicle and your predicted path as you reverse, there's also a graphic showing the position of the tow ball.
And 'Say What You See' prompts the driver visually, in an easy-to-follow 'step by step' format on the screen, with the commands they need to speak to control the audio, satnav, aircon and phone systems - which negates at a stroke the reason we have voice commands in the first place: to prevent the driver from having to look away from the road.
Expect to see the new Freelander 2 in South Africa in the first quarter of 2013.