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Ford promises silky, thrifty Territory

The quiet type: Ford says its new SZ Territory addresses customer wishes for a diesel engine and hushed ride.

2.7-litre diesel to sip just 8.2L/100km in more refined next-gen Ford Territory

9 Mar 2011

FORD’S new V6 diesel-powered Territory SUV will get Captiva-like fuel economy, improved safety and refinement levels bettering European luxury AWD wagons, Ford Australia promised today at a technical briefing on the new-generation $500 million SZ model that goes on sale in May.

Electric power steering, six-speed automatic transmissions across the range, anti-roll-over electronics and a new knee airbag are among the goodies lined up for the locally made wagon that will still be available in five- and seven-seat configurations with a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

And Ford promises it still has more news to come on high-tech features for the Territory, which is also set to get its first serious facelift since it was launched in 2004.

The good news for petrol Territory buyers is that the new model will gain the upgraded 4.0-litre inline six from the latest FG Falcon, delivering up to 195kW of power, 391Nm of torque and greater fuel efficiency, but the bad news is that this engine will be available only in rear-wheel drive.

Ford says its research shows that all-wheel-drivers overwhelmingly want diesel power, and so it has cut the petrol all-paw variant. Diesel buyers will get the choice.

27 center imageLeft: Territory's new Duratorq TDCi turbo-diesel V6, Territory bodyshell at the Broadmeadows production plant and the TDCi's AWD drivetrain.

Today’s event – the second in a drip-feed of Territory information sessions for the motoring media ahead of the main launch event in April – was held to spell out the many powertrain, chassis and refinement enhancements to the locally made SUV. No pricing was announced.

The main focus was on the new 2.7-litre Duratorq TDCi variable-turbo diesel engine – made by Ford in the UK and shared with Land Rover, Jaguar and Peugeot – which is getting its first Ford gallop in the Territory.

Delivering 140kW of power at 4000rpm and 440Nm of torque from 1900rpm, the Euro 4 engine is said to provide official-test combined fuel economy of 8.2 litres per 100km in two-wheel-drive guise, coming within a whisker of matching the rival Holden Captiva’s 8.1L/100km from its new, smaller and less powerful (135kW) 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine.

This is also a 30 per cent improvement over the current petrol 2WD Territory, although the fuel consumption of the venerable Geelong-made inline six itself has been lifted from 12L/100km to 10.6L/100km in the latest range.

Apart from engine tweaks such as a redesigned cylinder head, fuel gains have been made by adding the new electric power steering system that reduces drag on the engine, plus the more efficient six-speed transmission. On 95-RON petrol, the power of the ‘massaged’ engine is up 5kW, while torque has been improved 8Nm.

In the new top-of-the-range AWD Territory Titanium, which weighs a hefty 2167kg, the diesel consumes 9.0/L/100km in combined mode.

Ford engineers say the two-wheel-drive diesel Territory has a highway fuel rating of 6.5L/100km, potentially giving it a range of more than 1000km from the 75-litre tank in cruise mode.

The 24-valve diesel V6, which is expected to dominate sales of the new model, has a compacted graphite iron block and alloy cylinder heads that Ford says combine help to bring the weight of the new engine within one kilogram of the current inline six petrol engine.

Ford says it had to re-design bits of the engine to accommodate the Territory AWD drivetrain, which has a driveshaft passing through a tunnel in a new cast-alloy sump to which the front differential is mounted.

All-new powertrain mounts have been included to cater for the shorter V6, with a fresh front sub-frame and a specially-designed transfer case cross-member that helps to cut vibration.

The diesel will be coupled exclusively to a Ford-built, ZF-based six-speed auto transmission, while the petrol version will get the ZF six-speeder from the Falcon, finally putting the old Australian-made four-speeder to the sword.

On the AWD models, a new ‘active’ transfer case has electronic gadgetry that Ford says can preempt driving moves, such as moving off from rest, instantly varying the torque split between the front and rear axles to suit the occasion.

A clutch in the transfer case provides the added bonus of disconnecting the engine from the drivetrain at idle, greatly improving vibration through the seat and steering wheel.

The Territory also gets the latest Bosch chassis management electronic control, which not only provides the regular electronic stability control (ESC), but for the first time in a local Ford, an anti-rollover program.

While the electronic power steering system is said to provide fuel economy benefits, it also delivers lighter steering at parking speeds – a gripe of current owners – and subtle input to save the driver having to constantly steer gently to one side in a side wind or on a cambered road.

The electronically-controlled steering unit – which is sealed for life and requires no maintenance – can adjust the steering help at highway speeds for better ‘feel’.

Ford says it has used this to back off the steering assistance at certain highway speeds that, in the current car, some drivers felt was a little too sharp.

As well, it can even compensate for annoying pulses felt through the steering wheel from something such as a lost wheel weight.

A great deal of the engineering focus appears to have been applied to reducing noise, vibration and harshness, mainly to counter the usual diesel engine clatter.

A new sound-deadening undertray beneath the engine bay, heavier insulation on the firewall, improved seals and dozens of other improvements have been made to the Territory by engineers who even set a mock McDonald’s drive-through at the Ford proving ground to test the ability of the driver to be heard with the window down.

The engineers say they benchmarked the BMW X5 and Audi Q5, among others, in their efforts to reduce NVH and elevate the serenity inside the cabin to what one engineer described as “vault-like levels”.

They revealed a graph that purports to show that the new diesel Territory is superior in interior noise suppression at all speeds to the Europeans, although the body-on-frame Land Rover Discovery – using the same diesel engine as the new Territory – was better at lower speeds.

The model range will retain its three specification levels – TX, TS and Titanium – with both petrol and diesel powertrains.

Ford says it spent $500 million over four years on the new model, test driving mules more than 800,000km in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States, including Alaska.

Ford Australia president Bob Graziano said Ford’s efforts to again hit “the sweet spot” with the Territory meant knowing exactly what customers wanted.

"With the original-model Territory, we did a great job in two vital areas of vehicle development: understanding our customers' needs and benchmarking,” he said.

"We adopted this approach again with the development of this new model."Ford says it has sold 107,000 Territorys since launch, reaching a peak of 23,454 in 2005 when it was the leading medium SUV on the market.

Last year, Ford sold 11,558 Territorys, and although that was up six per cent on the previous year, it slipped to fourth in the segment.

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