Driving the Grootrivier Pass that leads into Nature’s Valley in the Eastern Cape provides a great driving experience with many tight turns and some exquisite scenery and one must admire the way in which Thomas Bain opened this new territory between 1822 and 1823 when he hacked out the route from the virgin Tsitsikamma forest.

A fitting drive venue then for the new Ford Territory that returns the Blue Oval to the SUV segment of the market with this three-derivative range, all of which come with high levels of standard specification and compete in one of the fastest growing segments of the local market.

Ford Territory Titanium

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According to Neale Hill, president of Ford Motor Company of Africa: “This segment is up by 12% on sales volume this year already and, looking back, last year one in every 10 vehicles sold was in this C-segment SUV sphere.”

Without delving too far into the ‘punny’ stuff, the Territory is just that for Ford as this car was designed at its facility in Australia and is built for Ford by the Jiangling Motor Corporation (JMC) in China for export to many markets in the Southern Hemisphere including Africa.

“The Territory was launched last year and South Africa is the first country to market the right-hand drive version following an extensive engineering and tooling process to make the conversion,” says Hill.

Front and rear views of the Ford Territory

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First impressions of the Ford Territory are that it is a big car and closer inspection shows it is not actually as big as it looks – slightly confusing perhaps but the immediate comparison is it is about the same size as the Hyundai Tucson.

“The Territory is an exciting addition to our South African line-up, with a modern design and advanced technologies that will appeal to young, smart and connected customers,” says Doreen Mashinini, general manager for Marketing at Ford South Africa.

“With a commanding presence on the road, exceptional space and practicality inside, and an extensive range of high-tech features, we expect the Territory to be a popular addition to the fast-growing small SUV segment in South Africa.” 

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The new Ford Territory houses a 1,8-litre four-cylinder turbo-charged EcoBoost petrol engine, offering a fusion of performance and efficiency. Generating 138 kW of power and 318 Nm of torque, it drives through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT).

Gear selection is controlled by a rotary e-Shifter positioned in the centre console, complemented by an electronic parking brake.

Front-wheel drive is standard, with four Selectable Drive Modes — Normal, Eco, Sport or Mountain — available to optimise power, torque and fuel efficiency based on driving conditions. Handy driver assist technologies such as Hill Launch Assist and Hill Descent Control further enhance control on steep gradients.

Driving a variety of roads in the Eastern Cape on the launch proved the engine was more than up to the task in terms of maintain pace on the highway and having sufficient in reserve when overtaking acceleration was called for.

Being one of the larger models in the segment, there is quite a lot of body metal to move around and launch consumption ran an average in both the Trend and Titanium versions I drove at 9,5 l/100 km but as these were brand new cars, I do think with a few more kilometres under the wheels this could be reduced, possibly to the late eights.

“Embodying Ford's 'Progressive Energy in Strength' design philosophy, the new Territory exudes a commanding, agile, and responsive demeanour,” says Mashinini. "Our team aimed to create a commanding, forward-moving form expressing energy and strength while ensuring ample space and comfort."

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With around 1 432 litres of storage with the rear seats folded and around 300 litres with the seats in place, Territory has a lot of luggage space but, perhaps even more importantly, it has more than generous rear leg room that could easily accommodate Eben Etsebeth and a couple of his lanky mates.

A robust shoulder line runs from front to back, while the Territory's front-end features an integrated grille and distinctive LED daytime running lights, casting a signature light effect. Strong corners with integrated main lamps further enhance the vehicle's look.

How the new Ford Territory came to be, and where it fits into Ford’s global line-up

Athletic and expressive from the side, the Ford Territory has sculpted body lines and a sharp crease beneath the beltline. Alloy wheels, ranging from 18- inches on Ambiente and Trend version to 19-inches on the Titanium, complement this theme across the range.

Side view of the Ford TerritoryAll versions have high levels of standard specification and the external visual differences are small – so the easy way to recognise the Titanium is by the standard moonroof.

“Inside, designers focused on creating a modern and spacious cabin seamlessly integrated with technology. Mashinini says. “Our designers aimed to create an interior that feels spacious, luxurious, and smart. This vision is realised through the coast-to-coast design of the instrument panel, high-tech digital instrument cluster, touchscreen interface, roomy interior, and soft-touch materials.”

A panoramic display takes centre stage, integrating either a 1,.3-inch high-definition digital instrument cluster (on the Titanium model) or a seven-inch TFT cluster with primary analogue gauges (on the Ambiente and Trend models). A 12,3-inch landscape-oriented infotainment touchscreen, in the soft-touch instrument panel, provides intuitive control of various vehicle functions.

Interior of the Ford TerritoryDespite being the entry point, the Ambiente comes packed with standard features, including smart key Passive Entry and Passive Start (PEPS), supported by a Thatcham-grade alarm system and immobilizer.

On the safety front, all Territory models are equipped with Electronic Stability Control with Traction Control, Emergency Brake Assist, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Hill Launch Assist, Hill Descent Control, and a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

Six crash bags — dual front, side and curtain — are standard. The Titanium model gains Ford's advanced driver assistance package, featuring Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go, Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Blind Spot Information System (BLIS), Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Forward Collision Warning with Pedestrian Detection, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Assist and Traffic Jam Assistant.

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Recommended Retail Price (excl. optional Service Plan)

Recommended Retail Price (incl. optional Service Plan)

Territory Ambiente 1.8L EcoBoost 7AT 

 R576 000

 R590 000

Territory Trend 1.8L EcoBoost 7AT

 R632 600

 R646 600

 Territory Titanium 1.8L EcoBoost 7AT

 R707 000

 R721 000

Colin Windell


Watch the launch video here