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Ford Territory: New suspension revealed

Unique design: Ford Australia's Stephan Presser says Territory's "Virtual Pivot Control Link" front suspension provides car-like handling.

A new front suspension is the start point as Ford starts revealing Territory

Ford logo19 Aug 2003

THE first look under Territory’s all-new exterior sheetmetal has revealed a number of world firsts.

Ford is claiming the redesigned front suspension, optimised rear suspension and unique new 17-inch tyres result in Territory providing a car-like ride and handling offers the best of both on and off-road worlds.

Known as "Virtual Pivot Control Link" and replacing Falcon’s double wishbone set-up, Territory’s new front suspension is a sophisticated four-link design typically found on more expensive European vehicles.

It will be employed on all Territory versions, whether they are all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive.

Designed to allow the placement of the lower pivot point as far outboard as necessary to achieve Ford’s vehicle dynamics targets for Territory, the new suspension replaces Falcon’s single lower A-arm with a pair of lower control arms, mounted to two separate balljoints.

The separate short and long lower links create a virtual pivot point at their imaginary intersection, which would have interfered with Territory’s front brake rotor, which is 25mm-larger than Falcon. Hence the Virtual Pivot Control Link name. The double-balljoint system is the first of its type in the Ford world.

The new suspension therefore incorporates a new spindle, or knuckle, featuring two lower control arm balljoint mounts, a larger centre hub to accommodate drive through it, new calliper and (now vertical) anti-roll bar mount and new, front-mounted steering arm mounts.

Territory is said to be the first locally engineered vehicle to feature a forward-mounted steering rack.

Ford vehicle dynamics manager Stephan Presser, who replaced Ford chassis development manager Alex de Vlugt in May and previously worked on suspension systems for the Ford Ka, new Fiesta and, most recently, the next generation Focus, explained the system.

"SUVs leave room for improvement, so Territory hopes to capitalise on that," he said.

"Agility, stability, precision and comfort are the key attributes of Ford DNA. The new Virtual Pivot Control Link front suspension delivers on all those goals and ensures car-like driving dynamics for Territory.

"We set ourselves very high targets for our scrub radius and kingpin offset. Moving the lower pivot point allowed us to achieve those targets to ensure real benefits for drivers."Mr Presser said Territory’s scrub radius target ensured a high level of braking stability while its kingpin offset level reduced torque steer and steering wheel vibrations. Together, they are said to deliver ride and handling levels not seen in an SUV.

Ford confirmed Territory would be shorter overall than Falcon, while it also revealed:* Territory’s wheelbase is 2842mm compared with 2829mm for Falcon
* Front end track width has increased 60mm to 1620mm
* Spring rate has increased 17Nm/mm to 50Nm/mm
* Anti-roll bar diameter has increased 3mm to 27mm
* Rebound travel has increased 11mm to 93mm
* Front roll centre height has increased a big 70mm to 132mm.

At the rear, Falcon’s Control Blade IRS has increased in track by 30mm, while spring rates are up 30 per cent, rebound travel is up 20mm, roll centre height up 60mm and suspension bushes are retuned.

Apart from the larger front brake discs and callipers, Ford also revealed a new tyre designed specifically for Territory AWD.

Developed in conjunction with Goodyear in Luxembourg and to be produced locally, the new silica-based Goodyear Fortera measures 235/60 R17 and is said to be its world-first original-equipment fitment.

Territory RWD will employ a Goodyear Integrity tyre of the same size and a full-size spare wheel will be standard.

Three-and-a-half years in the making, Territory’s new front suspension is claimed to return a best-in-class turning circle of 11.4 metres, while Territory RWD’s 52/48 front/rear weight distribution alters to 54/46 in the AWD version.

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