Everything Merges With the Night

Reassessing the familiar and seemingly unremarkable under cover of darkness.

freelander
(c) DTW

There is something deliciously atmospheric about walking through a familiar landscape late at night. The normally bustling streets are silent, the lighting casts interesting reflections and even the mundane can become suffused with mystery and wonder.

I have walked past this particular Freelander innumerable times about my daily business and apart from the fact that it appears to be remarkably well-preserved for an eleven year old vehicle in this part of our perpetually rain-sodden isle, I have never really cast it a second glance. Yet parked against the backdrop of the apartment block’s fluorescent walkways, with the sodium glow of the streetlights casting warmer pinkish tones upon its paintwork, the architectural qualities of the Land-Rover’s design stopped me in my tracks. The scene simply begged to be photographed – poorly, in this instance. Sorry.

Our resident R. Herriott discussed the subject of lighting effects at greater length and with more genuine insight in the past, but it’s a subject which perhaps bears repeating. Because not only does a nocturnal streetscape allow one to view the familiar and unremarkable anew, in this case it also served to remind me how comparatively gracefully the L359-series Freelander 2 has aged from a stylistic perspective. Only the ugly wing-mounted vent and clumsy grille/bumper arrangement really stand out for visually jarring reasons.

By way of recap, the Freelander 2 debuted in 2006 as direct replacement for the highly successful, if woefully problematic L314 version. An entirely Ford-financed programme, L359 not only shared significant elements of the much-loved Jaguar X-Type’s EUCD platform and drivetrain, but was built alongside it at the former Escort plant at Halewood in Merseyside.

A more upmarket vehicle than its predecessor, it was also a more capable vehicle off the metalled track, and with far greater offroad capabilities than its mostly German prestige rivals. But while it was vastly better wrought than its frangible predecessor, it nevertheless showed its Land-Rover mettle in less desirable ways, proving it seems, a somewhat less than bullet-proof ownership proposition.

freelander
(c) DTW

Despite selling consistently and strongly until its retirement in 2014, the L359 was not a huge commercial success for Land-Rover, the outgoing Evoque model (which along with the current Disco Sport was also based on its EUCD platform) outselling it by some margin. But given their shared heritage, the Freelander DNA could be said to live on within those vehicles JLR are producing now.

But whether one views the L359’s styling in a positive light or not, it’s difficult not to conclude that LR’s design team better combined the visual robustness one expects from brand Land-Rover with a modicum of stylistic refinement in this instance than they have subsequently achieved with the Freelander’s current Disco Sport evolution. Perhaps they ought to have got out more at night?

Author: Eóin Doyle

Founding Editor. Content Provider.

4 thoughts on “Everything Merges With the Night”

  1. I never noticed the wobbly shutline joining the rear bumper and rear wing before. It’s unusal because the rest of the car uses straight lines and I think you rarely see shutlines without a right angle, if they’re not a straight line in the first place (the original Citroën C5’s front bumper shutline comes to my mind as another “exception”).

    1. I find the wing to bumper shut lines (both front and rear) much more thoughtful and pleasing than straight diagonal lines would be. I like the way the shut lines initially continue the line of the light cluster downward before turning to meet the wheel arch. Overall, the Freelander 2 is a robust and handsome looking thing, and a good complement to the Discovery 3. The original Freelander was, by comparison, a bit flaccid looking, with its round-shouldered low waistline and tall DLO:

      One small detail (just about) visible in the photo above is both irritating and inexplicable (to me, at least): the door skins have a additional horizontal crease level with the bottom of the DLO, just an inch or so above the waistline. This crease is not picked up in either the A-pillar or C-pillar/rear three-quarter panel, so what is it for? Is it simply the result of a mistake?

      Overall, both the Freelander 2 and Discovery 3 look rather more “fit for purpose” than their rather limp looking present day successors.

    2. The shutline in the picture is probably the result of a back end shunt because there shouldn*t be a visible panel gap between bumper and wing.
      Audi introduced shutlines going around corners/bends without visible panel gaps and flush fitting bumpers (together with pinstripe panel gaps for moving parts and two piece rear lights) to show the world they’d sorted out their production processes and could do this sort of stuff just for the sake of it.

  2. Eóin, I see nothing wrong with either picture. In fact they are something I would expect to see in brochure from when the car was new, picked up in a showroom or maybe at car show. Before the internet took completely over in the sales game.

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