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Retrofit Range Rover Gen2.1 features into Freelander2?

3 min read

I really enjoy the Gen2.1 infotainment system. There, I’ve said it, a controversial statement I know. I’ve spent so long with Gen2.1 and I’ve got to know the system pretty well. The first Freelander2 I saw with it, I bought! But the premium Land Rover models have more feature content. Can I retrofit the features onto my Freelander?

The introduction of Gen2.1 infotainment

For those who aren’t Land Rover anoraks, the Gen2 Infotainment system was first introduced to JLR on the Jaguar XJ in 2010. It then had something of an upgrade (Gen2.1) and launched with the Evoque (L538) in 2012. The introduction to Range Rover (L405) followed in 2013. At this time the Discovery Sport was a long way off, so to bridge the gap, the Freelander2 underwent an electrical architecture uplift at the end of 2012 to match the Evoque.

Freelander 2 Gen2.1 Interior  ©LandRover
Freelander 2 Gen2.1 Interior ©LandRover

Gen2.1 across the range

With the Gen2.1 system being used across the whole JLR brand between 2012 and 2018 (ish), feature content is considerable. There are many options on the top of the range installation (Range Rover) which are technically possible but never offered on the Freelander2. Additionally there where planned features never sold as options for the Freelander2, presumably to protect sales of the Evoque. The electronic parts catalogue for the Freelander2 has everything for the Rear Screen Entertainment system. Unfortunately, it was never offered as an option.

Additional features

‘Retrofitting’ is the act of adding factory options to a car that wasn’t specified with them. Boy, do I enjoy the challenge of a good retrofit! However, one of the biggest limitations to retrofitting some of the Gen2.1 Infotainment options is the software stack. The ‘screen’ or FCDIM (Front Control Driver Interface Module) is a complicated beast. The operating system is structured with a variety of software modules delivering different functionality. Features not immediately available in a particular LR model often have the software modules lurking in the background. They just need turning on. Other features are not so easy to implement.

Retrofit Gen2.1 FCDIM from Range Rover in Freelander2
Retrofit Gen2.1 FCDIM from Range Rover in Freelander2

Full feature content?

After some experimentation, I’ve discovered that the early Range Rover FCDIM seems to include the software modules all Gen2.1 features. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just plugging in the ‘CPLA’ prefix hardware. Beyond the physical hardware differences (8″ screen on the RR, 7″ screen on the FL2) I need to turn the software modules on.

This conundrum creates an interesting engineering challenge. How can I retrofit a Range Rover FCDIM to a Freelander2? And how can I turn the software modules on?

I’ll explore the challenge of retrofitting Range Rover features into the Freelander 2 in a series of future articles. I’ll need to figure out some details of the vehicle communication system. Then I’ll potentially need some interface hardware. It’s a project I’ve been playing with for three years now. But let’s figure out some of the basics, first up CANBus.

M

Next: What is CANBus?

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