From the archive: on this day in 1996

Land Rover Freelander 1996 front off road

The first-generation Land Rover Freelander was originally thought to be called the Highlander

We print our first ever images of the Land Rover Freelander

In August 1996 we printed our first ever images of the Land Rover Freelander, then known as the Highlander.

Codenamed CB40, it was billed as “the first Land Rover to be engineered like a regular car, with a unitary monocoque construction and not the separate chassis and body of the Range Rover, Discovery and Defender”.

There was no sign of the beam axles partly responsible for the offroad ability of the Discovery and Defender, the saving in unsprung weight yielded a much better ride.

Another example of on-road manners being prioritised was the steering. The sensitive rack-and-pinion set-up was an unwelcome hindrance off road but expected to “make for good feel” on Tarmac. In regards to its immediate rivals, we were told by an insider that it had the measure of the contemporary Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

The majority of our predictions in regards to the car’s appearance and engine size would turn out to be accurate. The CB40 underwent a slight name change, going on sale in 1997 as the Land Rover Freelander, but its shape was broadly similar to that of the prototype we had spied. It was equipped with 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre four-pot petrol and diesel engines and front-wheel drive.

The Freelander remained in production for nine years, with more than 540,000 being sold before it was replaced in 2006.

Limey beats the Yank

The TVR Cerbera was one of the most formidable performance cars of the 1990s. To prove its mettle, we pit it against a similarly outlandish offering from across the pond: the Dodge Viper GTS. The American interloper’s brash irrationality was deemed more desirable, but given that the British car was faster and only half as expensive, it emerged as the more complete package. 

Digital broadcasts begin

Remember the annoyance of fiddling with a dial to find radio stations and losing the signal just as the DJ was about to name that great new song? In 1996, British motorists became the first to enjoy the greater ease, clarity and reliability of DAB – albeit at first only BBC frequencies, only in Birmingham and London and for £2700 (£4377 in today’s money).

Hamir Thapar

Source: Autocar

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