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Exterior Design - (Global)

June 29th, 2007





"Freelander 2 is a fresh and contemporary design, with its chiselled lines, chunky good looks and sporty energy. Though the genes of the highly successful original Freelander are still clearly recognisable, the new model looks more premium and more grown-up, without losing its sense of fun." Geoff Upex, design director.

Chiselled lines, smooth and simple surfaces and interlocking elements were three of the key principles that guided the Land Rover design team as they crafted the all-new Freelander 2. These combined well with the vehicle's near-ideal proportions - especially the height, long wheelbase, and short front and rear overhangs - to create the purposeful, sporty stance that the designers wanted.

Upex and his team, including Earl Beckles (lead exterior designer) and Martin Buffery (lead interior designer), were also determined to develop a vehicle with clear family links to Land Rover's successful new Discovery 3 and best-selling Range Rover Sport. From the Discovery, according to Geoff Upex, "we took the simplicity of the surfacing, the strong shapes, the bold and consistent graphics, and the strong rear D-post styling. Range Rover Sport inspired the flow of the wheel arches, a lot of the stance, and the dynamics of the waistline.

"But there are also clear visual references to the original Freelander. Its distinctive shape is widely recognised and popular, especially in Europe," says Upex. "So we took the best bits, the real signatures from that car, and enhanced them. These include the clamshell bonnet and the stepped roof."

However, these inspirations were subordinate to a clear vision of how a vehicle such as Freelander should look. While still definitively a Land Rover, it has always had - and needed to retain - a strong appeal to customers more used to conventional saloon cars.

"The design of Freelander 2 had to reflect its balance of capabilities - as a great road car and a great 4x4," says Geoff Upex. "This was absolutely at the top of our minds. It could not be too overt a 4x4, in the way that a Discovery is. It had to be tough - but not too tough. It had to reassure people trading up from premium cars. So this balance - tough 4x4 versus premium car - was crucial in the design language."

According to Upex, 4x4s typically look more geometric, more aggressive and harder-edged. Cars tend to be more organic - and friendlier - in form. So the Freelander 2 mixes strong geometric shapes and flowing, car-like softness.

The fast-angled windscreen, the raised roof and the tapering rear pillar all reflect the car's dynamic, sporty on-road abilities, as does the smooth shoulder line. Also contributing significantly to the flow of the design are the body-coloured A- and D-pillars, while the black E-pillars at the rear give a graphic which resembles the 'floating roof' of Range Rover Vogue.

The body sides on Freelander 2 are sharp and chiselled. But in the plan view, the surfaces are smooth, sheer and one-directional. The surfacing is also taut and very defined, to give the vehicle a lean, muscled look.

The grille is a strong and confident design statement. The rear is also cleaner, significantly helped by relocating the external spare wheel of the original Freelander underneath the cargo area floor, and by the new one-piece tail-lamps.

"The whole design is simple, much less cluttered than before, more premium and more desirable. We wanted a minimal number of components that interlock to form a meaningful and attractive whole," says Geoff Upex. "The headlamps and tail-lamps, for instance, are watch-like in their detailing. The metallic side-vents help engine breathing, but also provide a strong family link with both Discovery 3 and Range Rover Sport."

As always with a Land Rover, functionality is a fundamental driver of the design. The narrow front A-posts help achieve excellent all-round visibility. The bonnet castellations help the driver place the vehicle more accurately on the road or track. The wheel-out stance and wide track help deliver agile handling and great grip. The short front and rear overhangs and high underbody are essential for go-anywhere off-road performance. The body-side protection guards against stone chips and helps keep the sills clean.

"We believe the end result is a design that is sculptured and sophisticated, dynamic yet refined, premium and tough," says Geoff Upex.


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