The Australian-sourced Ford Territory has just been launched in South Africa. With prices starting just under R310 000, the Territory hopes to attract buyers who traditionally opt for MPVs, large saloons, double-cabs and of course, other brands' SUVs.If we started off this review by merely explaining that the new Ford Territory SUV came from Australia, used a straight-six engine with a four-speed auto 'box and failed to elaborate further, you may be inclined to think that it's some outdated design that cannot hope to compete with the vast choice of current, modern rivals from Japan, Germany and Korea. But you would be gravely mistaken!

Hoedspruit Air-Force base was the starting point for our driving impressions of the new vehicle and a typically well-organized event by the Ford team allowed us a driving mix from high-speed tar sections to "butterflies-in-the-stomach" roller-coaster style gravel and sand. Readers can judge appearance of the vehicle for themselves, but it is nether radical or boring.

In fact, it's rather attractive. One can spot style elements similar to those of other manufacturers such as Volkswagen and Volvo. In addition, an aggressive front airdam and rear skirt give the Territory an extra macho edge.

The Territory certain has crossover appeal - it has seven seats, a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and two spec levels. The sixth and seventh seats fold flat and are easily erected, while the middle row is fully adjustable to allow access and legroom at the back. With two adults seated in the rearmost seats, there was still plenty of legroom available in the middle and up-front.

Still, the driver gets the most attention, with reach- and height-adjustable steering wheel, full seat adjustment, partly electrically operated, including tilt, and the cherry on the cake is electrically adjustable pedals. Luggage space also looks more than adequate even with all seats up. Drink holders and storage bins are scattered throughout and the car even comes with two colour-coded water bottles in the flexible door pocket holders.

The three versions available are the TX RWD, the Ghia RWD and the Ghia AWD. The TX comes with most features expected these days but comes with a single CD/radio with 100 W power and four speakers, cloth seats, traction control, dual front airbags, trip and fuel computer. The Ghia versions add a six-CD front loader, 250 W power with six speakers, leather trim, hill descent control, side curtain airbags, enhanced power seat adjustment, a LCD centre display, steering wheel operated cruise control, dual stage climate control, rear park distance warning, and overhead sunglasses holder. Seventeen-inch alloys are fitted to all versions and an under-floor mounted, full-size alloy is included.

The quality of fit and finish is pretty good and we only had two points of criticism - a poor split line between the upper facia section and the lower console and the silver painted gearlever surround also looked as if it could deteriorate rather quickly.

On the mechanical front, there is only one engine, a 4,0-litre straight six sourced from the Ford Falcon with four valves per cylinder and DOHC plus variable valve timing. The unit is extra smooth with bags of torque from idle to the limiter. Power is 182 kW at 5 000 r/min with 380 N.m at 3 250 r/min. The transmission has four speeds and with that amount of torque, four is enough. It also cuts down on hunting for the right gear.

The gearbox has three modes. In the normal position all four gears are used but includes an adaptive mode so that aggressive driving will result in a sportier mapping. If one moves the lever to the left, sport mode is engaged. This cuts out top gear for increased revs and response. This is particularly useful for towing. (Incidentally with the top speed limited to 180 km/h, this is achievable in third gear).

The driver can also change gears manually and in this case all four gears are available and the gearbox will only change according to driver inputs, i.e. no overriding will be done. The fuel consumption read out showed between 14 and 15 litres per 100 km, on our route of spirited driving on tar and gravel roads, which looks promising for such a large petrol engine.

Ride and handling was also impressive. On tar the ride was comfortable and handling was similar to that of a large saloon car, with top speed coming up deceptively easily. Expecting a harsh ride on the poor roads, we were again surprised with the way the set-up soaked up some unexpected potholes and washboard surfaces. In fact, Ford does seem to be offering some excellent handling packages in all its vehicles.

We wondered how capable the RWD versions would be on poor roads, but attempts to get the back wheels to spin out of control were quickly checked by the traction control... We imagine that for general off-road use, the base model should be adequate. The AWD version provides a permanent torque split of 62 per cent rear and 38 per cent front and includes dynamic stability control with a hill descent button. We have already received a test unit so watch for a full road test coming up soon.


4,0i TX RWD R309 500

4,0i Ghia RWD R349 500

4,0i Ghia AWD R389 500

Prices include a three-year/100 000 km warranty, a five-year 90 000 km maintenance plan and three-year roadside assistance.

Original article from Car