The Ford Territory AWD is one of our favourite
full-size soft-roaders. But, although the big Ford drives much better than
comparable ‘trucks’, there is a noticeable on-road difference compared to a
conventional Ford Falcon wagon – the Territory’s high centre of gravity and
relatively soft suspension settings give an eye-widening amount of body roll
But now there’s a solution – an upgrade springs
and swaybar combo from Sydney’s MRT Performance.
MRT Springs and Swaybars
The upgrade springs and swaybars offered by MRT
Performance are the product of a joint effort with suspension specialist
Whiteline. Both MRT and Whiteline have plenty of experience developing kits for
high-performance Subarus and Mitsubishis and they have a genuine interest in
enhancing handling without sacrificing ride comfort or safety.
For the AWD Territory, the first stage of
development was upgrade swaybars. The new swaybars measure 30mm diameter at the
front and 18mm diameter at the rear – up from the standard ‘bars measuring 27mm
and 16mm respectively. The new rear swaybar is also available with two-position
adjustable anti-roll stiffness and there’s a non-adjustable version available at
a lower cost.
The new swaybars are mounted using low compliance
polyurethane bushes and, at the time of writing there have been no failures of
the OE swaybar links (it is possible for swaybar links to break due to the
increased load caused by a stiffer swaybar). Brett Middleton from MRT
Performance says the new swaybars made a monumental difference to handling – on
a bang-for-buck basis, it’s unbeatable.
The second stage of development was a replacement
set of springs. Brett recognised the importance of maintaining a comfortable
ride and, drawing on Whiteline’s experience enhancing the BA Falcon (which forms
the platform of the Territory), there two sets of prototype springs were put on
test. The springs offered for sale are rated at 69.5N/mm at the front while the
rears are 64.3N/mm. These lower the ride height 30mm compared to standard.
Interestingly, progressive rate springs were not necessary – the desired ride
characteristics, handling and spring captivity were achieved with linear rate
Brett says the standard dampers offer sufficient
control over the upgrade springs but admits that upgrade dampers is the next
logical stage of development. With around 15,000km on the odometer, the
standard dampers in this vehicle are noticeably worn.
With the MRT spring and swaybar combination
installed, the Territory AWD feels quite composed when being flung through
corners. Body roll and weight transfer to the outside wheels are substantially
reduced and it’s much easier for the driver to stay comfortable in the seat and
maintain control. A mid-corner throttle lift-off helps the nose tuck-in when
understeering and there is no snap oversteer (at least on a dry road). Brett
says lateral grip levels have been massively increased (while retaining the
standard Goodyear tyres) and the electronic stability control steps in only when
the driver is being deliberately vicious.
In addition to the handling improvement, we can
vouch that the ride remains comfortable – you’re aware of the ‘sports’ springs
but it’s not harsh or obtrusive. Interestingly, Brett says his young children
are also less likely to become car sick when seated in the third row seats
(which are behind the axle line). On a similar theme, the 30mm lowered ride
height makes it much easier for young children to climb in and out without
Oh and, of course, the Territory also looks
tougher with a lowered stance.
So what’s the damage for the MRT Performance
spring and swaybar combo?
Well, for a full set of springs you’ll pay
AUD$350, the front swaybar costs AUD$235 and the adjustable rear swaybar costs
AUD$266. A non-adjustable rear swaybar is also available for AUD$77 less. Note
that these prices are for supply only – fitment costs extra. MRT is yet to
accurately determine how long it takes to install the new hardware but don’t
expect it to be especially cheap because it’s a fiddly, time consuming job to
swap the front swaybar.
For an all-up price of AUD$774 - AUD$851 (plus fitment) the MRT Performance
spring and swaybar upgrade is certainly a worthwhile modification for anyone
wanting to improve the feel and handling of their AWD Territory without
sacrificing day-to-day practicality and comfort.