Ford Territory FX6 2008 Review
The Range Rover Vogue and the Porsche 911 are always welcoming, and welcomed, vehicles. And a handful of utes, two- and four-wheel-drive, have grinability.
These have class and character that extend beyond a simple collection of mechanicals.
Now FPV's F6X 270, pictured, must be added to this list of vehicles which feel right from the get-go and encourage driving smiles.
It is no secret that Ford's Territory is a favourite around here, a well-designed Australian wagon with ability on both good roads and bad while carrying a family in comfort. There is the option of seven seats and the option of either rear-or all-wheel drive.
Some quibble about the Ford's fuel consumption — and a diesel power plant would be most welcome — yet for the breadth of its capabilities the Territory remains in a class of its own among home-grown vehicles.
So a superhot Territory built by FPV has to be a bit special.
Here it is not only about the extra power and torque of the remapped turbo engine, not only the sharp turn-in and great ride/handling balance of the F6X but also about the leather seats, the comfort, convenience and safety gear plus all those slick finishing touches.
These add an ambience which lifts the Ford above the pack and this plushness plus refined driving dynamics put the F6X into exalted company.
For the FPV F6X 270 is a worthy — and cheaper — rival for a number of European machines in the premium SUV set.
There is more than enough go and stopping power here, more than enough finesse to the all-wheel drive and the Ford's chassis.
All that and the attention to detail give the F6X a tonne of credibility; it brings smiles whether leaping off the line into a sprint, cruising around with big-time stereo working overtime or being hurled up a mountain pass with brio.
Some may believe the F6X needs a little more cosmetic work to differentiate it from other Ford Territorys, some are happy to travel in a handsome, understated machine.
This FPV wagon is based on the turbocharged Ford Territory Ghia, itself no slouch on the open road.
Here that original turbocharged wagon's 245kW is taken out to a neat 270kW, thanks to recalibrated engine mapping, fuel delivery, spark timing and boost control. There is also 70Nm extra.
This means that the F6X gets away that bit quicker than the donor machine.
This is much appreciated just after the wagon leaves the line and lifts away under acceleration for a claimed 0 to 100km/h time of 5.9 seconds. Here there is a seamless rush of boosted power, quite refined and most pleasant with 550Nm of torque from 2000rpm coming into play.
There is a determined.push and fine note to the exhaust; and all this brings the first round of smiles.
The wagon's forward progress is aided here by a six-speed transmission with smooth and eager shift. While a driver can shift to sports mode and play with sequential gear changes, left alone the gearbox is quick enough for most moves.
The exception is where there's the perception that quick downchanges are needed for overtaking or attacking particular corners.
This is the next deal where the F6X can bring a big and wide smile.
For the wagon likes to attack corners with a panache that, for the most part, belies the F6X's bulk.
Indeed it is most easy to have those 18-inch tyres howling through the turn and then grabbing hard as the F6X straightens up and runs hard to the next turn.
FPV engineers have left enough excitement in the electronic traction and stability controls for a driver to have a little fun.
Now as much as a press-on driver will appreciate all this performance, as much will some appreciate the leather-clad luxury of a quite practical machine, the real clever work is on the suspension.
Here the FPV F6X is ahead of some big-name German rivals.
Here, while retaining the standard Territory's ride height, engineers spent a deal of testing time on returning the damper rates and the springs.
The result is an excellent compromise, one of the best, between hard-core performance needs and ride comfort. Overseas engineers do not always understand the state of Australian roads or how some people may use their premium SUVs; some of these more expensive machines offer great dynamics on racetracks but a little too much lumpiness on local highways.
This suspension work by FPV (on what was already a decent chassis package) steels the chassis and steering to the point where it betters any other SUV at this price point.
Indeed the FPV F6X, with the backing of Ford dealers spread a little wider than imported products, could be the perfect hot-rodded SUV for this country.
It has power, grip, balance and all-wheel drive. And it has a full-sized, matching spare alloy wheel, something not always found in European machines and yet another little pointer to the suitability of the FPV F6X as a great Australian sports tourer.
FPV F6X 270
BODY: Four-door wagon
ENGINE: Four-litre, turbocharged, inline six
POWER: 270kW @ 5000rpm
TORQUE: 550Nm from 2000rpm
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed sequential automatic, all-wheel-drive
Lowest price, based on 3 car listings in the last 6 months