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Carsguide car of the year? Ford Territory

Judges rated the Ford Territory clearly ahead for its breakthrough place in motoring and its success with target customers.

The new Falcon-based family fighter has just won the most prestigious award in Australian motoring, the News Limited Star Car contest.

The family wagon has topped the national poll of motoring editors at Australia's leading daily newspapers, with four first-place votes and a strong show of high places.

It finished well ahead of the second-placed Subaru Liberty, with the tightly focused Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII trailing in third. It is Ford's second victory in the eight years of the Star Car award, following success for the born-again BA Falcon in 2002.

The Star Car judging was open to all new models launched in Australia in 2004, from bargain-basement city cars to high-priced sports cars and exotics.

Judges rank their top six cars, with points awarded on a 10-6-4-3-2-1 scale, based on design, engineering, safety, value and how they compete against their showroom rivals.

They rated the Ford Territory clearly ahead for 2004, both for its breakthrough place in the motoring world and its success with its target customers.

``Ford took a $500 million punt during the depths of its AU-induced troubles. The result is the Territory, a brilliant concept that's been developed into a crossover so relevant for its time. It really does drive like a car,'' Mike Duffy, of The Advertiser in Adelaide, says.

``Ford's Territory -- all-wheel drive or rear-drive -- is not only a competent, all-Australian wagon but also a credit to Ford Australia's design and engineering skills,'' Bruce McMahon, motoring writer at The Courier-Mail in Brisbane, and one of Australia's leading four-wheel-drive testers, says. ``This is a highly versatile, stylish and dynamic Australian wagon with widespread appeal.''

James Stanford of the Herald Sun is also a fan: ``The Ford Territory is the right car at the right time. It's an affordable big crossover wagon with tons of torque that is fun to drive -- Ford showed it could be done. It uses more fuel than a Falcon, but most owners are willing to make that sacrifice,'' he says.

But the voters were also enthusiastic about the Subaru Liberty, particularly the oddly named 3.0R B-Spec six-cylinder hero car at the top of the range. Two voters went for it and another added the turbocharged Liberty to the top of their voting cards.
Keith Didham, of The Mercury in Hobart, says: ``The real surprise was the Liberty 3.0R B-Spec, proving, finally, that the Japanese can take on the Europeans and beat them in designing a true driver's car. Terrific 3-litre six, superb handling and well packaged with equipment for under 55 grand. Only fault is a lack of stand-out styling to differentiate it from the Liberty.''

Kevin Hepworth, of The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, says: ``How does Subaru do it for the money? The Liberty Spec B looks great, goes better and provides an extremely practical family option.''

It wasn't just the Territory and Liberty that won votes. The judging panel scored points for everything from the giant Land Rover Discovery and BMW X5 turbo-diesel four-wheel-drives, to the baby Mazda3 and stylish new Peugeot 407.
The Lancer Evo and Porsche 911 were obvious choices for driving enjoyment.

 

What the judges said


Paul Gover
TheTerritory is the most significant car of the year, as well as a great drive and an ideal design for Australian families and roads.
It is a tribute to the tenacity of Geoff Polites in driving the $500 million project through head office in Detroit.
Personally, I also enjoyed the all-new Porsche 911 and was surprised by the all-round strengths of the baby BMW 1-Series, particularly with a sub-$50,000 starting price.

James Stanford
The Ford Territory is the right car at the right time. It's an affordable big crossover wagon with tonnes of torque that is fun to drive. It uses more fuel than a Falcon, but most owners are willing to make that sacrifice.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII takes road-holding to a new level using technology straight of a high-speed rally stage.
The new Odyssey looks cool, carries seven people, rides well and has great build quality and an excellent price (from $38,990).

Kevin Hepworth
How does Subaru do it for the money? The Liberty Spec B looks great, goes better and provides an extremely practical family option.
The Lancer Evo is hard to beat in the bang-for-your buck stakes. It's superb fun at a price that will not make you choke . . . and space for four.
If money is no object it is hard to go past the Porsche 911 Carrera S Tiptronic for sheer driving enjoyment.

Mike Duffy
Ford took a $500 million punt during the depths of its AU-induced troubles. The result is the Territory, a brilliant concept which has been developed into a crossover so relevant for its time.
It really does drive like a car.
When kitted out with seven seats it matches the carrying capacity of a people mover, and with all-wheel-drive drive train fitted it is a true adventure vehicle for the family on the move. And model for model, the price is right.

Bruce McMahon
The Territory is a credit to Australia's design and engineering skills. This is a versatile, stylish and dynamic wagon with widespread appeal.
Land Rover has moved the goal posts further down the track with the handsome Discovery, a competent, seven-seat four-wheel-drive.
The Liberty GT is a real alternative to higher-priced European sports sedans and wagons; a smooth and symmetrical approach to prestige motoring with punch.

Keith Didham
The surprise package was the Liberty 3.0R B-Spec, proving that the Japanese can beat the Europeans in designing a true driver's car.
Terrific 3-litre six, superb handling and well packaged with equipment for less than $55,000.
Ford deserves praise for developing the innovative Territory from the ground up. Handicapped by a thirst for fuel.
Clear winner in the small-car class is the Mazda3, which has given the brand the edge it lost in recent years. Fine handling and performance.

Neil Dowling
Japan takes on the Euros with the Subaru Liberty GT, a rapid sports machine with stunning turbocharged performance and cabin versatility. Beautiful quality and a five-star safety rating trounces European rivals that cost twice the price.
The Ford Territory is a great concept that comes at an affordable price, while the Peugeot 407 is a delightful French drive with superb comfort and a willing V6 engine.

 

How they voted

Paul Gover
carsguide Melbourne

1. Ford Territory
2. BMW 1-Series
3. Honda Odyssey
4. Porsche 911
5. Mazda3
6. Subaru Liberty 3.0R B-Spec

James Stanford
carsguide Melbourne

1. Ford Territory
2. Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII
3. Honda Odyssey
4. Ford Fiesta
5. Mazda3
6. Mercedes-Benz SLK

Kevin Hepworth
carsguide Sydney

1. Subaru Liberty 3.0R B-Spec
2. Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII
3. Porsche 911
4. Volvo S40 T5
5. BMW 530i Sport
6. Ford Territory

Mike Duffy
carsguide Adelaide

1. Ford Territory
2. Peugeot 407
3. Mercedes-Benz SLK
4. Volkswagen Golf V
5. Subaru Liberty 3 0R B-Spec
6. Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII

Bruce McMahon/ Gordon Lomas
carsguide Brisbane

1. Ford Territory
2. Land Rover Discovery
3. Subaru Liberty GT
4. BMW X5 Turbo Diesel
5. Ford Falcon GT MkII
6. Holden Monaro VZ

Keith Didham
carsguide Hobart

1. Subaru Liberty 3.0R B-Spec
2. Ford Territory
3. Mazda3
4. Peugeot 407
5. Honda Odyssey
6. Honda Integra

Neil Dowling
carsguide Perth

1. Subaru Liberty GT
2. Ford Territory
3. Peugeot 407
4. Mazda3
5. Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII
6. Audi A3

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