It has a new look and new engine, write Paul Gover and Paul Pottinger
THE official countdown to the new Ford Territory is under way with a public unveiling of the tweaked Aussie SUV this week.
The bold new look is the first sign of changes that run as deep as an overdue diesel engine and major improvements to quality, and reflect spending of $ 232 million on the project.
Ford is using a trickle feed for the Territory, which will not be in showrooms until May, revealing the design work this month, the mechanical package in March, and giving journalists their first drive in April.
The update work on the Territory’s body is aimed at what exterior designer Todd Willing calls ‘‘capable sophistication’’, with a decidedly more premium feel than the outgoing model.
Most obvious is the new front end with trapezoid-shaped main grille, slim-line headlights, and the flagship Titanium — which replaces the Ghia — fitted with LED position lamps.
At the other end, there are wraparound lights and a new liftgate. It rides on 17 or 18in wheels. Inside it’s all soft-touch materials and covered storage bins, as well as a new instrument panel with an 8in touch screen. What Ford calls the Interior Command Centre provides front-seat occupants with controls for heating, ventilation and airconditioning.
Funding for the Territory update comes partly from the Federal Government’s Green Car Innovation Fund, which is to be axed to help pay for Queensland’s disaster relief.
It provided a $42 million green grant for the V6 turbodiesel engine that could soon account for up to half of Territory sales. The engine was originally developed for Land Rover in 2004 and runs much leaner and cleaner than the current petrol six.
The diesel will run in all models from the basic TX to the Titanium.
‘‘The new diesel engine is one part of the bigger story,’’ Ford Australia’s new president, Bob Graziano, says.
‘‘Our new Territory has a new interior, a new exterior, new smart technologies and an all-new powertrain.’’
He also says Ford has a big update program on its whole line-up in 2011.
‘‘What we will be able to do this year, as we freshen 85 per cent of our showroom, is continue to leverage the global resources and assets that we have under the One Ford strategy.’’
Graziano expresses frustration that the Labor Government broke a promise made in 2008 to sustain the green car fund until 2020, after commitments from carmakers.
‘‘We are obviously disappointed it was withdrawn but we are looking forward to having continuing dialogue with the Government,’’ he says.
‘‘It has been important in terms of accelerating that technology into Australia.
‘‘It’s not unusual in terms of the industry to have that kind of a fund.
‘‘ I think that partnership — carmakers, the Government and the consumer — is necessary not just in Australia, but also around the world.’’
Slick: (above and left) The new Ford Territory Titanium.