The Freelander 1, a compact SUV was introduced by Land Rover into the market in 1997. The Freelander 1 body and suspension were quite a change from what was standard Land Rover practice, being designed with a monocoque body construction . However, the body has a substantial sub-frame including welded box-section rails giving it high structural rigidity.
The Freelander 1 also lacks a low range gearbox and a diff lock due to the introduction of the innovative Hill Descent Control. In essence,this pulses the brakes thereby maintaining a speed of about 5mph thus enhancing the Freelander 1's off-road capabilty. Another change was the Viscous Coupling Unit which gives the Freelander 1 its all wheel drive ability. The Viscous Coupling works progressively whereby if a front wheel begins to spin, then torque is sent to the rear wheels where it can be used successfully. The introduction on independent suspension not only allows greater clearance when off-road, but it also results in a much smoother ride.
Initial body styles consisted of a 5-door Station Wagon, and a 3-door 'Sport' with soft-back or hard-back rear roofs. Petrol and diesel engine options were also available.In 2001, V6 and Td4 engine options were added, in addition to a 5-speed automatic gearbox.