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Tauter Territory

MRT Performance's upgrade spring and swaybar combo for the Ford Territory AWD

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar and courtesy of MRT Performance

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At a glance...

  • Territory AWD spring and swaybar upgrade
  • Improved handling without sacrificing ride quality
  • Practical benefits for children
  • Relatively cost-effective
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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 when pushed.

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.

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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.

Click for larger image

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 springs.

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.

On-Road Results

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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.

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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 assistance.

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?

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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.

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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.


Middleton Rally Team (MRT)
+61 2 9767 4545

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