Ford’s road back

Th­ese shots re­veal the Blue Oval’s grand SUV plan

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

THE Fal­con and Ter­ri­tory might be on death row but that doesn’t mean it’s game over at Ford Aus­tralia.

Work is still un­der way on dozens of projects at Ford’s lo­cal en­gi­neer­ing base, in­clud­ing a head­lin­ing SUV that is be­ing fast-tracked for pro­duc­tion in 2014.

The SUV will come from a de­vel­op­ment pro­gram known as T6, which to date has pro­duced the award-win­ning Ford Ranger/Mazda BT50 twins.

It is be­lieved to be a sev­enseater that’s big­ger than the Ter­ri­tory, pack­ing the punch to go up against the best in class, both in Aus­tralia and around the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion.

Its Aus­tralian roots could even mean it wears En­deav­our badges in show­rooms, al­though it’s also known as Ever­est.

This de­vel­op­ment car is caught this week by Jack­son Emiris, a smart­phone-wield­ing Cars­guide reader, on the Princes High­way near Avalon, just out­side Melbourne.

‘‘ It seems to be a Ford Ter­ri­tory-cross-Ford Ranger,’’ says Emiris. ‘‘ On the back of the car it reads ‘ Left Hand Drive’ and ‘ En­gi­neer­ing Eval­u­a­tion Ve­hi­cle’.’’

The car clearly has Ranger roots, car­ry­ing the pick-up’s panels from the front to the door pil­lar. From there, it is­mated with a Ter­ri­tory tail to pro­vide the ex­tra rear space that will at­tract SUV buy­ers.

Cars­guide can con­firm it’s one of a run of pro­to­types that are be­ing tested and de­vel­oped in Vic­to­ria, both at Ford Aus­tralia’s prov­ing ground in the You Yangs and on pub­lic roads. They have been up and run­ning for sev­eral months, point­ing to a pub­lic un­mask­ing in the sec­ond half of 2014.

‘‘ Ford has al­ways said the Ranger pick-up would be the first of the ve­hi­cles to come off the T6 plat­form,’’ Ford Aus­tralia’s Neil McDon­ald says. ‘‘ The Ranger pick-up is the first ‘ top hat’ of that plat­form. How­ever, at this stage we can­not pro­vide any fur­ther specifics as to tim­ing or fea­tures.’’

The En­deav­our, if it is called that, will join the 22 ute mod­els al­ready spun from the Ranger plat­form, in­clud­ing the lat­est XLS. The suc­cess of the T6 pro­ject is re­flected in its classlead­ing com­fort, re­fine­ment and safety.

Paul Gover

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