Ford Fairmont Ghia

December 21st, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

New Ford Fairmont Ghia – a very European drive with precision and safety. Directed by Mark Toia

Ford Territory Ghia Turbo 2009 Review

November 27th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

The Ford Territory has been around since 2004 and has received a recent facelift for its 2009 model year. The Territory was once a popular benchmark vehicle in its segment and this latest measure is set to extend its lifespan. So is it simply a weathered old gunslinger that’s been given a new hat and holster and sent back out to fight? Or does the updated Territory have some new tricks and shining spurs? Car and SUV headed west in the range-topping Territory Turbo to test its mettle.

With extensive changes and the introduction of a turbo-diesel engine scheduled for next year, this is a modest facelift. In terms of exterior aesthetics, changes include a new front bumper, upper and lower grilles, colour coded exterior mirrors and new head and taillights. The Territory Turbo retains the aggressive bonnet scoop and in Ghia trim receives special 18-inch rims. When compared to the latest 2009 batch of SUVs the Territory is showing its age. However, it remains a smart and purposefully styled vehicle with a distinctive shape.

It’s in the cabin where the Territory turbo boasts some serious new gear. Now included as standard specification is a handy third row of seating, reverse parking camera, rear privacy glass, side steps and an Alpine DVD system for back seat passengers.  The seats have also been updated with quality leather and are wide and very comfortable. Gauges and switchgear are sensibly laid out but the multifunction display screen can look cluttered and difficult to read. The silver and black trim works in well together and while some materials feel a touch cheap it’s all screwed together strongly. Cabin space is superb with decent legroom all round. Overall, the Territory interior is a pleasant place to be, but car styling has shifted forward and although the standard equipment list is impressive the dated dash and instruments aren’t.

When it comes to what’s packed in under the bludging bonnet, the updated Territory has no major mechanical changes. Some small tweaks to the powertrain have resulted in a slight fuel economy improvement but engine specs and performance figures remain unchanged. That said, Ford knows you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight and the Territory turbo is still packing some serious firepower. Making use of its turbocharged 4-litre 6-cylinder engine the top-spec Territory puts out a whacking 245kW of power and 480Nm of torque. This brutish unit will take the Territory from standing to 100kmh in around 7 seconds and easily embarrass most other SUV drivers. It’s a motor that has strength through the range but it’s low down torque that gives it real character.

Mated to a smart six-speed auto transmission the Territory works itself competently through the gears and if you want to get hands-on there’s a tiptronic shifting option. Fuel economy is quoted at 14.2L/100km combined, which is fairly high, and if you want to have some fun and wind up the turbo, fuel bills will increase simultaneously.

Like the powertrain there has been no changes to the chassis or suspension set-up for the facelifted Territory but car-like drivability remains a strength for the vehicle. Despite it’s burly 2-tonne weight and high centre of gravity it’s surprisingly agile on twisty roads and easily manoeuvrable around town. But take it off the tarmac and it may struggle, with 235/55 R18 tyres and a clearance of just 179mm the Territory is undoubtedly better suited for sealed roads. In wet conditions the Territory feels sure-footed with ample grip thanks to its full-time 4WD system and wide track.

Ride quality is very good with little in the way of engine or wind noise entering the cabin. The suspension is set on the firm side for an SUV but only the most broken of Kiwi roads will prove uncomfortable for occupants.

Safety credentials check out with a posse of airbags including curtains waiting to shoot. ABS brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, traction control and a dynamic stability control system are also all standard fare on the Territory Turbo.

Overall, the Territory Turbo is still a very good performance orientated SUV with a strong motor, solid safety and keen driving dynamics. The facelift for 2009 is more an exercise in adding value by increasing standard equipment than making any major changes. Some buyers will be tempted by the added gear from the facelift but most will understandably wait for 2010 when the Territory range is fully updated in earnest and styling is properly refreshed. For now, when the cards get shown the Territory Turbo is still holding a full house, it’s just all the other players have moved on to the next saloon.

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications.

Price: $67,990

What we like:

  • Strong Torquey engine
  • Car-like driving dynamics
  • Lengthy equipment list

What we don’t like:

  • Minimal updates
  • Fuel consumption
  • Dated styling inside and out

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Ford Territory Ghia Turbo (2009) – Specifcations

Engine

DOHC VCT I6 Turbo—S
Cylinders 6
Displacement (cc) 3984
Power – maximum (DIN) 245kW @ 5,250rpm
Torque – maximum (DIN ) 480Nm @ 2,000rpm

Transmission

Adaptive Shift/ Tiptronic 6FA

Towing Capacity

Braked – Standard 1,600
Braked – Heavy duty 2,300
Unbraked 1,000

Suspension

Front – Virtual Pivot Control Link
Rear - Control blade independent

Steering

Power-Assisted Steering
Turning circle (kerb to kerb) 11.4
Turns to lock 3.0

Wheels & Tyres

Wheel size 18″
Wheel type 5 spoke alloy
Tyre size 235/55 R18
Spare wheel 17″ alloy

Luggage Capacity

Volume – Luggage behind second row seats (L) 1,153

Vehicle Masses kg

Axle load rating – front maximum 1,290
Axle load rating – rear maximum 1,530
Gross combination mass (GCM) 4,850
Gross vehicle mass (GVM) 2,690
Kerb mass 2,173
Payload – maximum 517

Karmann produces final vehicle

June 24th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Troubled coachbuilder and specialty car manufacturer Karmann might have closed its doors for the final time. The firm’s last vehicle — a Mercedes-Benz CLK came off the lines on Monday as the once famous company has been shuttered because of insolvency.

Best known for its Volkswagen-based Karmann Ghia coupe and convertible, Karmann has actually produced over 3.3 million automobiles for various automakers — mostly convertibles. In recent years, it’s been responsible for assembling cars including the Spyker C8, Audi A4 Cabriolet, Chrysler Sebring Convertible, Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible, and the Pontiac G6 Convertible.

According to a German newspaper Karmann actually went bust just last week, though there is a chance it could shift to parts production if officials are able to successfully reorganise the firm and stay afloat. Unfortunately, disputes between the company’s management and its workers union is preventing any sort of real restructuring at the moment.

The company’s 2,240 workers have all apparently been given notice, and their benefits plans look in serious doubt.

Karmann produces final vehicle

June 24th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Troubled coachbuilder and specialty car manufacturer Karmann might have closed its doors for the final time. The firm’s last vehicle — a Mercedes-Benz CLK came off the lines on Monday as the once famous company has been shuttered because of insolvency.

Best known for its Volkswagen-based Karmann Ghia coupe and convertible, Karmann has actually produced over 3.3 million automobiles for various automakers — mostly convertibles. In recent years, it’s been responsible for assembling cars including the Spyker C8, Audi A4 Cabriolet, Chrysler Sebring Convertible, Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible, and the Pontiac G6 Convertible.

According to a German newspaper Karmann actually went bust just last week, though there is a chance it could shift to parts production if officials are able to successfully reorganise the firm and stay afloat. Unfortunately, disputes between the company’s management and its workers union is preventing any sort of real restructuring at the moment.

The company’s 2,240 workers have all apparently been given notice, and their benefits plans look in serious doubt.

Coachbuilder Karmann bites the dust

April 14th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

karmann badge

The economy has caught up with Karmann, the independent German coach builder whose name was most famously applied to Volkswagen’s 1950s roadster, forcing it to file for insolvency. Most recently the company’s 3,470 workers were assembling Audi A4 and Mercedes CLK convertibles.

Over its 108-year history the brand has done work for many marques including building Porsche bodies, the Chrysler Crossfire, the roof system for the Pontiac G6 and Nissan Micra, and at one point the European version of the AMC Javelin. Declining car sales, however, have kept Karmann from being able to fulfill its financial obligations and forced it to pack it all in.

Ford Territory Turbo Ghia AWD 2007 Review

August 19th, 2007 by Darren Cottingham

Ford Territory Turbo Ghia 2007 fq

The Territory Turbo Ghia, while large isn’t overly domineering to other road users. It has a bonnet nostril feeding air into the intercooler (the only major difference from the non-turbo versions) and is extremely well proportioned, sitting almost expectantly ready to launch forwards.

Packing the same 245kW engine out of the Falcon XR6 Turbo, Ford’s Territory Turbo Ghia holsters a 4-litre inline-6 with forced induction. There’s a hint of Bell Jet Ranger as the turbo spools up and then all four wheels grapple with the equation of 480Nm of torque, tarmac plus large mass of steel and cow hide. Surging forwards like it’s been jabbed with a cattle prod, the instantaneous fuel consumption figures on the trip computer start to look scary. You know that when the gauge stops at 99.9 litres per 100km, that it’s actually more than that. Still, that’s no worse than many other large cars when asked to win the traffic light grand prix.

So, to see how economical I could be I planned a trip from Takapuna to Whangaparaoa where, to be as frugal as possible, I would use the cruise control when practical. The Territory’s cruise control is better than many — it doesn’t search for the speed, and it even keeps the right speed going downhill. The problem when using cruise control is you become painfully aware of how woeful many people are at maintaining a constant speed, especially when they get to a hill. I notice if my speed drops from 100 down to 80; some people evidently don’t. Anyway, a quick prod on the accelerator, the atmosphere is gulped in courtesy of the turbo, and you’re by them.

There’s another reason for this trip. The Territory is a seven-seater, and I’m not contraceptively challenged, therefore I need to borrow a child — one is fine; I can’t cope with any more. Fortunately this is where step-brothers come in handy: one step brother to be precise. He’s 11 (well, 11 and a half because that extra half matters), and intensely annoying. The acid test for the Territory is if he shuts up in the back without me having to use chloroform and gaffer tape.

There’s some instant credibility with the reversing camera, which shows on the screen in the central console. The camera has a fisheye lens and can see a 130-degree view and up to 15 metres behind you. He’s impressed with how comfortable the leather seats are, that there are cup holders in the back and storage compartments galore (30 of them), and that when I stamped on the accelerator his youthful neck muscles were given a workout.

We set off for a jaunt around Orewa. It’s 5:30pm. He started feeling drowsy. No, it wasn’t the exciting adult conversation lulling him to sleep. It’s revealed that when he stayed over at his friend’s the night before they were up until 2am growing puppy fat courtesy of the PlayStation.

But it didn’t really matter because 11-year-old passengers don’t buy cars, and I was mostly already convinced of the Territory’s effectiveness in transporting large numbers of people. We have the lower specification Territory TX AWD in our office in which we’ve taken six adults from Auckland to Beach Hop (Whangamata), then across to Super Lap (Taupo) including luggage, and it was fine, if a bit cramped for poor Fred who had the rear seats to himself. And the Turbo Ghia really is a huge step up from that in terms of comfort and driving dynamics.

Instantaneous fuel usage heart attacks aside, the Territory Turbo Ghia used 13.2 litres per 100km average on my trip. On the flat, cruising at 90, it’s very economical, it’s just when you want to accelerate at all that the best part of 2.2 tonnes empties the tank like a step-brother with a Coke — we managed 16.7 for the rest of our time with the Territory.

So, if I had five kids to transport and $72,990 burning a hole in my pocket would I buy the Territory, or would I sell two of the kids and get something else? I like the Territory. I’m not a kids person, but it’s packed full of convenient features. It’s a car that’s immediately easy to drive — it’s comfortable, powerful, looks good and is very practical.

Looking for a Ford Territory Turbo in New Zealand? Check this site out (opens in a new window)

WHAT WE LIKE:

  • Comfort
  • Power
  • Features
  • Interior well thought out
  • Practicality

WHAT WE DON’T LIKE:

  • Needs a sports suspension mode to match the power
  • Thirsty
  • Road noise on rough surfaces
  • Like all Fords, the stereo is adequate but not stellar

Words and photos Darren Cottingham