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Car reviews - FPV - F6X - 270 5dr wagon

Our Opinion

We like
Superhero performance, great steering feel, excellent handling and roadholding, impressive ride, superb value for powerful SUV
Room for improvement
Clark Kent looks – changes don’t go far enough away from Territory Ghia Turbo donor car

FPV logo1 Feb 2008

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

WE RECKON that a mark of great design is when a car remains fresh after a long period of time. The Ford Territory is a good example.

Unveiled as the R7 concept in early 2002, the almost identical production version that was launched in the middle of 2004 still seems contemporary.

This is an especially impressive feat for Ford when you realise that the Territory is now just about the oldest vehicle in its class. The Holden Captiva, Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota Kluger are all significantly newer.

Having the class-best drive certainly sweetens the view.

The Territory is one of a new wave of Australian vehicles that (along with the BA Falcon that kicked it all off in 2002 and the VE Commodore that rose to match the big Ford’s prowess four years later) combines high-level European dynamics with excellent ride quality and a solid, robust feel.

The trouble with the F6X 270 (has a more number-plate sounding name ever existed?) is that all we see is Territory. FPV has conjured up a car with a visual subtlety that borders on the bland.

So, while loud and loutish spoilers are not exactly what we wanted to see, a little more visual expression would certainly have been welcome on an SUV that represents an historic first for FPV.

FPV boss Rod Barrett explained that it was not possible to go for wheels larger than 18 inches in the development timeframe, which is a shame, but at least there is a bit of chrome underneath the window line.

Interestingly, installing two-tone leather sports seats goes some way to lift the F6X interior, while the ‘Molten Metal’ grey highlights scattered around the cabin add some differentiation.

Happily, it is on the road where the FPV really begins to pull away from the standard Territory Turbo.

As with any Focus and post-BA Falcon, the Territory sits on a taut, sophisticated base that always feels like it could use more power, and the same is true of the F6X, since the chassis simply harnesses all 550 Newton metres of torque with ease.

If you are expecting supercar-levels of performance, you may be disappointed. This FPV is about commanding and secure point-to-point transport for up to seven people.

Nevertheless, it is mighty quick and is faster than any Territory Turbo right through the whole rev range – with the big Garret turbocharger bowing to neither lag nor lethargy when foot comes to shove (so to speak).

Over a series of winding country roads with a variety of surfaces and varying degrees of sometimes unexpected road cambers, the F6X is a blast, sitting firm, tracking faithfully and absolutely punching a hole through the air.

FPV says it worked hard on counteracting bodyroll and, while the two-tonne-plus F6X cannot escape the fact that it is a heavy, mid-sized SUV when hurtled through fast corners, it does not pitch, lurch or lean anywhere near as much as you might imagine.

The steering feels good and provides good feedback while the seats do a good job of keeping you in place through violent direction changes.

We were also impressed by how effectively the suspension irons out bumps, while we walked away feeling completely confident that the big Brembo brakes are up to the task.

But we still wonder if FPV hasn’t sold its concept short by not giving its first-ever SUV meaner looks and a meaner sound. The F6X still feels too much like a Ford. There isn’t even a starter button, like in the rest of the FPV range.

While the FPV gives the Germans a big fright dynamically at a fraction of their price, it is highly unlikely that BMW X5 or Mercedes ML/GL buyers would even consider an F6X.

But, if you are considering an HSV E-series, a Chrysler 300C Hemi or SRT8 Touring, then this might just be the car for you… except that most people will have trouble distinguishing it from a Ford Territory Turbo.

It’s a good thing, then, that the Territory has held up so well after all these years.

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