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We test Ford's brute SUV

2007-05-04 07:36

Hailey Philander

Over-sized, over the top and in your face? Who would have thought these words could be used to describe Ford's usually sedate and very family-friendly Territory? Well, when this family SUV blasts onto the scene sporting its ST livery and shoving its massive bonnet-mounted air scoop into your ashtray, you'd better pay attention.

What's it about?

The Australian-sourced seven-seater initially gained my favour largely based on its gentle ogre demeanour and apparent indifference to other, more excessive SUVs. Until the ST-badged version arrived, throwing its four-litre inline six about and beating its bulging curves.


As with the Fiesta and Focus models bearing Ford's ST nomenclature, the Territory is flooded with go-faster kit. From the outside it is distinguished by that air scoop as well as an ST specific grille. At the rear, an aluminium-look airdam offsets the twin tailpipes.

Inside the cabin, brightwork and red "ST" badging is peppered liberally throughout. Leather seats (six-way power adjustable with lumbar support for the driver) and a perforated leather steering wheel with controls for the audio and cruise control functions are standard too.

One sometimes has to question the use of all that electrical wiring though, as a schizoid alarm system left me particularly red-faced on several occasions. Bleating for all the world to hear whenever I approached or left the cabin's confines, it made me feel like a common criminal. Replaying the same flashing lights and blaring siren routine, no amount of coaxing, pleading or kicking of tyres could shut the dumb thing up. Oh, how I wished I'd packed my invisibility cloak...

Hopefully more reliable electronic features are dynamic stability control, hill descent control and permanent all-wheel drive to supplement the Territory's regular ABS with EBD and traction control.

As with the rest of the Territory range, the performance model requires services at 15 000 km intervals and is covered by a five-year/90 000 km service plan and a three-year/100 000 km warranty.

Under the bonnet

Power delivery from the turbocharged six-cylinder is prodigious, particularly in a straight line off a horizontal painted strip. Ford quotes maximum output of 245 kW at 5 250 r/min and a peak torque figure of 480 Nm at a low 2 000 r/min.

Acceleration off the line to 100 km/h is a scorching 7.5 seconds with the ST hitting a top speed of 210 km/h.

The bone-crunching, seat-squelching antics at acceleration are certainly worthy of a five on the grin-factor scale, but be sure to keep your eyes off the fuel gauge. Instantaneous consumption at one time hit a staggering 36 l/100 km, but the resultant granny-like stints brought this figure down to a more respectable 12 l/100 km-average.

Driving it

Alas, it's almost impossible to drive this beast at a decent or even leisurely pace. The red lettering for the ST insignia is clearly indicative of this machine seeing red when under fire, since it bolts forward at the slightest prod of the accelerator.

The six-speed auto 'box seemed adept at dealing with fistfuls of power surging through its core, with rapid, sure shifts whether or not sport mode was engaged.

Being an SUV, the ST is inherently top heavy so I was rather reluctant to toss it into the first set of tight twisties. However, though it certainly falls short of the type of grip levels and stickability one would come to expect from a sports car, overall handling for an SUV is impressive. Stopping power is provided by a set of two-pot calipers at the front and 328 mm rear vented discs.


Thank god for rear parking cameras!


Constant fuel thirst
Embarrassing electrical "incidents"


Following the trend for super SUVs, Ford's latest ST model is another to enter the fray. It certainly meets the over-the-top credentials with its roaring turbocharged growl and imposing chrome-adorned bulk, but all that fire power seems a tad excessive for what is really just meant to be an honest seven-seat family mover. But having loads of power at hand just for the heck of it? Why not!

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