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The Land Rover Freelander Mk 1 was launched in late 1997. This compact SUV went on to become the biggest-selling 4WD model in Europe with over 540,000 units sold. There are four engine choices - 1.8L I4 petrol, 2.0L TCIE diesel, 2.0L TD4 diesel and 2.5L V6 petrol. The early models came fitted with manual gearboxes but eventually automatic transmissions were introduced as standard on the V6.

Hill Descent Control (HDC) is an intelligent system by Land Rover that enables a smooth downhill descent on rough or slippery slopes without the driver having to touch the pedals. This feature, combined with steptronic automanual transmission, the Traction Control system and permanent all-wheel drive makes the Freelander very competent off-road. The 'go-anywhere' attitude is apparently the mark of all Land Rovers and this little brother sums it up very well. A four-wheel independent suspension provides for a smooth ride both on and off-road.

The Freelander Mk 1 got a facelift in 2004 with a new interior and major external changes. Production for the Mk 1 ended in 2006 and a new model, the Freelander 2, was announced signalling the arrival of yet another pacesetter from Land Rover.