Rugged way to go
Ford’s global T6 ute is being tested here, writes James Stanford
THE near-production version of the T6 global Ford ute has been caught being tested on Australian roads for the first time, ahead of next year’s launch. CarsGuide ambushed the full-sized one-tonner on a late-term testing run near Geelong this week and can confirm this vehicle, as opposed to earlier test mules with makeshift bodies, is the one that will end up in showrooms.
The next day we snapped images to confirm Ford Australia is also working on an SUV variant of the T6 ute, as reported last week.
CarsGuide came across a Ford evaluation convoy testing the rivals the new T6 SUV must beat.
The fleet included a Mitsubishi Challenger, Toyota Fortuna, Nissan Pathfinder and the Ford Everest, a Thai-built model built off the existing Ranger pick-up base. All of these vehicles are based on rugged ladderframe one-tonne workhorse utes, making them clear rivals for the T6 SUV.
Ford is throwing considerable weight at the new SUV project, with Ford Australia’s European-born suspension guru Alex de Vlugt seen driving one of the vehicles.
Like the T6 prototypes, the utebased SUVs ran over a tough ride and handling route just out of Geelong, which includes pot-holed dirt roads, smooth country roads and tight suburban streets.
Ford Australia will not comment on whether the vehicles were conducting an evaluation as part of the T6 SUV engineering program.
The only other possibility is that Ford is considering importing the Ranger-based Everest as a short-term range filler, but that idea is knocked on the head by company spokeswoman Sinead McAlary, who says Ford is not considering bringing the Everest to Australia.
The camouflaged T6 ute models are crew cabs and, though they were covered in thick cladding, gaps allowed glimpses of the showroomready painted panels, lights and bumpers. The Bridgestone and Dunlop off-road tyres were clearly visible.
reports top Ford US engineer Todd Hoevener is now leading the T6 SUV project, which is cranking up, as most of the T6 ute work is complete.
The T6 SUV will not replace the locally made Territory.
Given the size of T6, which is considerably larger than the existing Ranger, the SUV built off it would be much larger than the Territory. It would also be more of an off-roader, with greater ground clearance .
Ambushed: the T6 global Ford ute being tested near Geelong.