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Turbo tops Territory range

 

The XR Turbo and Ghia Turbo

What do you do to improve on a vehicle that is already a runaway success? Why not add high-performance luxury versions to the range? That’s the approach Ford Australia has taken with the new turbocharged versions of its hot-selling Territory SUV.

The turbocars do for the Territory what the turbocharged six-cylinder model has done for the Falcon XR6 – given it V8-style performance without the fuel penalty associated with an eight, and with the mechanical refinement and seamless power and torque delivery familiar to drivers of turbocharged cars. The Falcon turbo lacks the visceral, almost rough, punch of the XR8: there’s a sophistication, a near-Europeanness about the way it goes about its business that the fire-breathing XR8 can’t match.

A few weeks ago, I wrote that the ultimate Falcon turbo, the F6 Typhoon, had eclipsed the GT V8 as my top Australian muscle car. Then I drove a Falcon GT-P V8 and came back under its spell. They may share the same platform, but the cars are vastly different – the Typhoon suave and couth in its manners, the GT-P more brutal, more raw-edged. Both are charmers and, were money no object, both would live in my garage.

Ford says the V8 wasn’t an option for the high-performance Territory that marketing focus groups told it people wanted. Fortunately, the answer to that demand was already in its engine range, in the inline, turbocharged 4.0-litre DOHC six. The latest version, developed for the BF Falcon, had improvements designed to increase performance and fuel economy. There’s plenty of power available – 245kW at 5250rpm – and the strong 480Nm of peak torque comes on right where you need it, at 2000rpm. The other major mechanical news with the BF Falcon was the six-speed ZF automatic gearbox with sequential manual-shift function. The Territory turbos pick that up, too. The combination – smooth, seamlessly-powerful engine and state-of-the-art, slick-shifting gearbox – could have been tailormade for the Territory. Certainly, on initial acquaintance and a very brief drive (I had to skip day two of the media launch in mid-June), the drivetrain matches the Territory perfectly. It was always a good package – in the turbo versions, it’s even better.

Ford is marketing two Territory turbos, both with permanent four-wheel drive. The XR Turbo is priced at $63,490, and the more highly specified Territory Ghia Turbo is $72,490. Ford New Zealand managing director Richard Matheson knows he’s on to a good thing with the Territory Turbos. He points to their value-for-money factor: he says the Territory XR Turbo and Territory Ghia Turbo offer enhanced performance and increased luxury – at close to half the price of similar European products. “The two new turbo models successfully combine Territory’s popular functionality and versatility with more sophisticated styling and increased performance,” he says. “From the distinctive bonnet scoop to the twin exhaust pipes, the styling is subtle, but purposeful.” Matheson says deciding to badge the sportier of the two turbos as an XR was pure logic.

XR Falcons make up a significant proportion of Falcon sales in NZ, and XR has virtually become a sub-brand of the Ford nameplate. It’s also starting to gain momentum in Australia. But for now, says Matheson, “the XR nomenclature is unique to the New Zealand market. Our customers have told us that the high performance capabilities and sporty styling of the vehicle are a natural extension to the XR family of vehicles.”

In addition to engineering, mechanical and visual modifications to the exterior of the vehicle, the Territory XR Turbo and Territory Ghia Turbo also contain the sort of interior enhancements expected in a luxury SUV.
“Both turbo vehicles are significantly differentiated from the rest of the Territory range,” says Matheson. “Customers will be under no illusion that they are travelling in the luxury sports flagship of the Ford SUV range when they ride in the Territory Ghia Turbo.”


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