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First look: Ford enters new Territory

Fresh look: This sketch of the 2011 Ford Territory is believed to reveal elements that will appear on other Ford SUVs - and the next Falcon.

2011 Territory sketch reveals Ford’s Aussie-penned global SUV design direction

14 Dec 2010

FORD’S new Territory will herald a new global SUV design theme developed by Australian designers from the Blue Oval’s ‘kinetic’ design language when the big Falcon-based crossover wagon is launched in March or April next year.

A teaser sketch released today by Ford Australia also provides a hint at the new look for Ford’s Australian-made Falcon, which likewise is in for a makeover six months after the Territory, in the third quarter of 2011.

The refreshed Territory and Falcon will be joined on Ford’s 2011 new-model launch pad by the all-new Focus small car and the Australian-developed Ranger ute in what promises to be a watershed year for the brand in this country.

The facelift for Territory – the most significant in the six years of the current model – will be accompanied by a diesel powertrain for the first time.

Ford says it already has pent-up demand for the Territory diesel, which will be offered as an alternative to Ford’s venerable 4.0-litre inline petrol six.

27 center imageFrom top: Current Ford Territory, Ford Falcon, Ford Ranger, 2.7-litre turbo-diesel engine, Ford Australia president & CEO Robert Graziano.The new model will arrive not a moment too soon for Ford dealers, who have watched Territory’s sales share of the hotly-contested medium SUV market slump from 33.5 per cent in 2005 to 14.1 per cent this year.

Although sales of the Falcon-based SUV are expected to end 2010 slightly up on 2009’s 10,884 units, this is still only half the 2005 volume when Territory accounted for more than 23,000 Ford sales.

Territory has been hurt by rivals such as the Holden Captiva with their diesel engine alternatives – a gap in the Territory range that will finally be plugged by a European-sourced 2.7-litre turbo-diesel V6 from Land Rover’s superseded Discovery.

Ford Australia is keeping its powder dry on details of the new diesel in its Territory guise, but in the Discovery it developed 140kW of power and 440Nm of torque and delivered combined fuel economy of 10.2 litres per 100km.

Instead of diesel, the 2011 Falcon will get Ford’s 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder engine, as well as a new liquid-injection LPG version of its six-cylinder engine – called Liquid Phase Injection – alongside the petrol variant.

The sketch of the new Territory reveals a wide-mouth design with hints of other current ‘kinetic design’ models such as the Fiesta.

New-look slimline headlights – a feature that might make it on to the next Falcon in the interests of parts commonality – give the Territory a sportier persona, while squared-off LED running lights provide a little European flair.

The Territory was last given a styling tweak in May 2009, when the front fascia, bonnet and headlights were redesigned.

According to Ford Australia, the Territory’s locally crafted new look is likely to appear on other Ford SUVs.

This might include Ford’s new Ranger-based SUV, which is being developed at Ford Australia’s Campbellfield and Geelong design and engineering centres in Victoria.

However, it is too late for the big-selling Ford Explorer in North America – its latest model has already been launched on the front-drive/all-wheel-drive Taurus platform this year.

In its press release today – the start of what is expected to be a drip feed of information about the new model until its release in four months – Ford says the new Territory will also get “a major interior update” that likewise might provide a glimpse of the updated Falcon that will follow it into showrooms about six months later.

The Territory is set to go into production in the New Year after the traditional Christmas factory shutdown, kicking off what Ford Australia describes as an unprecedented new-model onslaught in 2011.

Ford says the new models represent 85 per cent of Ford’s volume in Australia, and follow hard on the heels of this month’s launch of the revised Thai-built Fiesta – which includes a sedan for the first time in the current generation – and last month’s updated Mondeo.

Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano – who has just replaced Marin Burela in the Broadmeadows hot seat – said the Ford Territory set a new benchmark when it was first released and was set to achieve this again – “and more”.

“This is an exceptional SUV,” he said. “It wears an exciting new look and will boast an extensive list of technical highlights.

“The Ford Australia team is taking the Territory to an all-new level of performance, refinement and quality, and customers will definitely experience these advancements when they drive it.”

The advent of a diesel Territory will leave the three-year-old second-generation Toyota Kluger as the only leading medium SUV without an oil-burning engine.

The Camry-based Kluger was updated in November, but continues only with the 3.5-litre V6 that was the only powertrain designed for the vehicle conceived mainly for the North American market.

Toyota still has a dominant 33 per cent share of the medium SUV segment through the combined sales of Kluger (15 per cent) and the heavy-duty Prado (18.9 per cent), but with Holden’s Captiva (17.1 per cent) now comfortably outpacing Kluger, the absence of diesel seems to be hurting.

Year to date, Kluger sales are up 6.6 per cent to 12,210 units, while Captiva’s sales are up 39.4 per cent to 14,449 units to the end of November.

The current petrol-only Territory is up 10.8 per cent, to 10,699 sales, in a market segment up 26.7 per cent.

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