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Ford Territory spy shots

And it's nearly ready for the road, judging from these shots of a car undergoing testing in regional Victoria.  Alert Carsguide reader Dave Fairley spotted this test mule at a service station in Bright and was quick enough to snap a few frames before it could drive off.

The car bra camouflage can't mask the new front and rear styling, complete with projector-style twin headlights.  "The guy driving it wasn't too upset by me taking photos, but he wouldn't confirm or deny what it was," Fairley says.

The Territory had a minor makeover in February with the release of the SY Series II, but that was primarily a mechanical tweak to revise the suspension — and address owners' complaints about excessive ball-joint wear.

This version promises a major overhaul, inside and out. Ford has already announced it will fit a Jaguar-sourced 2.7-litre V6 turbodiesel.  The diesel engine's output should be comparable with the turbocharget petrol model, but fuel consumption should drop to around 8 litres for 100km, well down on the petrol's 11.6litres/100km.

Ford's production communications manager Neil McDonald says the dealers are desperate to get the new model into showrooms.  "There's a lot of expectation about this car, especially with the diesel engine," he says.

"It will keep typical Territory buyers happy and should open up a new market for us."  The Territory has been the backbone of local production for Ford after the Falcon suffered from the move away from large cars.

It has recently been overtaken by the Captiva in the SUV sales race, but sales will surge when the new model goes on sale in March or April next year.