Rugged way to go

Ford’s global T6 ute is be­ing tested here, writes James Stan­ford

Herald Sun - Motoring - - On road -

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.

Cars­Guide

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.

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