It's a cold, wet morning at Glasgow Airport. Land Rover, in its infinite wisdom, has invited a small troupe of mainly city-dwelling, fresh-air-fearing journalists to cross some of the most treacherous terrain in the Scottish Highlands. This, we're told, won't be happening in its all-conquering Range Rover, or a beefy Discovery, or a dependable Defender. Instead, we've been asked to risk life and limb in its smallest, least capable 4x4, the Freelander 2.
Things began well. On the M8 motorway heading north out of Glasgow airport, we got first-hand experience of the Freelander 2's impeccable road manners. It feels very much like a luxury car. Its ride is comfortable, cabin noise is unobtrusive at almost any speed and -- when thrown enthusiastically around twisty B-roads, it delivers a real sense of fun.
The Freelander 2's cabin tech is relatively impressive. Its satellite-navigation system -- borrowed from the
Unlike many integrated sat-nav systems, it accepts full seven-digit postcodes, so it'll direct you to your exact destination without the need to enter lengthy street names. That proved of little use to us later in the trip -- where we were headed, there were no roads, let alone streets.
Audio to die for
Shortly after leaving the M8, things started getting real. Paved roads became green lanes, green lanes became paths made of razor-sharp rocks, and those, in turn, became treacherous mountain passes, punctuated with fast-flowing streams and sheer 200-metre drops to what would have been certain death.
It's eerily quiet (and occasionally quite scary) in this part of the world, so we were grateful for a spot of light entertainment from the Freelander 2's audio system. Our car was the top of the range HSE TD4 model, which comes with an Alpine sound setup that is controlled via a console below the central display.