Ford Territory Turbo

The sum of its parts?

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar and Ford

Click on pics to view larger images

At a glance...

  • Compromised ride and brake feel
  • Not an effortless performer
  • Typical Territory spaciousness and flexibility

The Ford Territory and Falcon XR6 Turbo are two of our favourite Australian-built vehicles. So a combination of the two must make a real show-stopper, right? Well, no...

The new Territory Turbo has all the right ingredients. It just doesn’t gel.

While the naturally aspirated Territory is a genuinely car-like soft-roader, the Turbo version has some trade-offs. For a start, there’s an awkward judder over bumps. Blame this on the extra mass of the upsized brakes and 18 inch wheels. The lower profile 235/55 tyres further impact ride quality.

The steering is also flawed. Turn into a gentle radius corner and you’ll need to apply quite a lot of lock. But turn a fraction more and – whoops – you’ve steered too far. This is a characteristic of the standard Territory but it is more pronounced in the Turbo version (probably because of the different wheels/tyres).

The Territory Turbo has big 340 x 32mm front brakes that offer strong stopping power but they also require a very assertive push before anything starts happening. This can be disconcerting in stop-start driving – especially for the driver in front...

So what about the performance?

The Territory Turbo will sprint to 100 km/h in around 7 seconds; give it a bootful and it runs away from traffic. But it’s not responsive or effortless. Squeeze the throttle in normal driving and there’s little instant torque - no surprise given the turbo engine has a low 8.7:1 static compression ratio and is lugging more than 2.1 tonnes. We also found a variation in performance depending on heat-soak of the engine’s top-mount air-to-air intercooler. Performance is quite dull after idling around in traffic.

Traffic has another negative effect – fuel consumption. We saw a best of 10.5 litres per 100km while cruising at 100 km/h (as indicated by the trip computer) but the average consumption over our test was around 14 litres per 100km. This is poor in absolute terms but is reasonable given the weight and performance of the vehicle. Premium unleaded fuel is recommended for maximum performance.

The Territory Turbo’s engine is the same as used in the current Falcon XR6 Turbo – a 4-litre in-line six with a DOHC, 24-valve head, dual variable cam timing and electronic throttle control. The turbocharger is a Garrett ball-bearing unit teamed with an air-to-air-intercooler. Maximum output is 245kW at 5250 rpm while there’s 480Nm of torque from just 2000 rpm.

The Territory Turbo comes standard with a six-speed ZF automatic transmission. The new trans performs well but when coupled to an engine with such a wide spread of torque, lacks any significant performance advantage over the four speeder. Power is transmitted to all four wheels via a constant AWD system – there’s no rear-wheel-drive Turbo version.

Some wrestling is required to punt the big Territory through urban conditions but it is very composed on the open road. The Virtual Pivot Control Link front and Control Blade rear suspension offer good travel and chassis balance is fairly neutral. The Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system is also recalibrated to suit. Wet weather grip is excellent.

The intelligent interior design of the Territory recovers some lost points.

There are big cup holders in the doors, an amazing thirty storage compartments, adjustable height rear seatbelt anchorages and an ultra deep centre console. Passenger space is abundant for five passengers and an optional third row rear seat can be added to create an on-demand seven-seater. Cargo space is massive and you can fold the 60:40 split rear backrest for an expanded, perfectly flat floor. Plastic storage trays can also be found beneath the cargo floor while luggage is hidden by a slightly awkward folding blind – a retractable blind would be better. The Territory also offers separate releases for the tailgate and rear window.

Trim level is sportier in the Turbo model but the equipment list has some holes – there’s only a single CD head unit, there’s no climate control and side airbags are optional. Reversing sensors would also be a welcome addition. You can buy the Turbo Ghia model if you want lots of goodies – but it’s also pretty expensive.

The styling of the Territory Turbo is understated but adequately separated from the atmo version. First, there’s the overt bonnet scoop and exclusive five-spoke 18 inch wheels. Less obvious are the fog lights, revised grille, dual outlet rear muffler and TURBO lettering on the tailgate. The build quality of our test vehicle was reasonable but there were some corroding bolts in the door jambs and the centre console was poorly finished.

So what to make of the turbocharged Territory?

We reckon there are too many trade-offs that detract from its everyday user-friendliness. But it is cheap when compared with the rest of the Territory range - at AUD$53,990, its only $2,000 dearer than the similarly equipped Territory TX AWD. That should tempt Territory buyers thinking about lugging a heavy load. But as high performance all-rounder, the Turbo Territory misses the mark.

The Ford Territory Turbo was provided for this test by Ford Australia. www.ford.com.au

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