By Clive Funizwe
Geore – There’s always one of two things you at least look forward to when you get an invitation to a car launch. The car or the travelling… in this case it was both. The thought of going to George to test the best-selling double cab bakkie (or pick-up truck if you reading this from anywhere either than South Africa) segment is enough to get the adrenalin junkie in you excited.
The day came and the flight happened. As soon as we landed around 14h00 – some community service work as part of Ford’s Wild Life Foundation kicked off the day. Ford South Africa donated R25k worth of animal food to the George SPCA. A home where animals that are injured, stray, etc. are kept and looked after. After spending some time there and leaving the place feeling like adopting a pet or 3 we headed off to the Transport Museum to grab a bite. At the Transport Museum centre – we viewed everything old school. It was predominantly trains and some small cars, ambulances and fire trucks. Post the meal – we headed of in a short train journey past some iconic places within George. Eventually we got to the Oubaai Hotel Golf & SPA – which was sublime and tranquil to say the least. Needless to say that we were still going to attend a night presentation about the actual reason why we were at George – The New Ford Ranger, which is built right here in South Africa. The presentation detailed the new updates within the models! The speakers were well prepared and well versed with their product line up. The evening was wrapped up and ended off with a meal and drinks that would please a King.
On the morning the car park was booming with Rangers… XLT’s on the one side and Wildtrak’s on the other. We were all paired in two’s for what was a promising convoy through George and its lovely scenery. All the attendees were going to rotate between the XLT and Wildtrek models, to get a good sense and experience of the differences between the bakkie’s throughout the planned routes. The route kicked off from the hotel and we drove through very lovely roads that had me longing to be in something like a Mustang or Ford Gran Turismo (hint-hint @Ford? Yes? J).
The route soon became a dirt road… then gravel… and something that resembled a path with lots of rocks and an incline that never seemed to end. The road was daunting to look at – but the Ranger didn’t seem to have any issues with tackling even the rockiest of terrains thanks to the sum of the driver focussed parts. Namely – the new 10 speed auto transmission that has been seen on the Ford F150 and Mustang and now in the Ford Ranger models. It uses real time adaptive shift scheduling that ensures the right gear at the right time. I was circumspect about this transmission, I foresaw a lot of changes that may hinder the driving experience – but this was not the case. Changes were very smooth and quick. The towing capability is also segment leading.
The new engines include the 2.0 Bi-turbo engine that produces 157kW of power and 500 Nm of torque which is found in the Wildtrak and the model below that, the XLT has a single turbo charged engine that produces 132kW and 420 Nm of torque. Both engines are 4 cylinder units. The current 3.2 and 2.2 engines remain in the range. Other driver related updates include autonomous emergency braking, active park assist, lane keeping system, adaptive cruise control, roll-over mitigation and roll stability control.
Whilst we thankfully didn’t get to activate any of the last two mentioned features – we can say without a doubt that the new features really add to an improved driving experience. Power on both models that were on test was very good – and the 10 speed auto did a sterling job in gear selection on high-way driving and the rough terrains as we increased in altitude. Things were slightly more comfortable and effortless in the Wildtrak. The extra turbo and overall package does make it the feel like the flagship model it is.
Some none driver focussed updates include the new Ebony Environment Interior, smart key, Ford’s SYNC-3, Active Noise Control for selected models plus acoustic laminated front side glass to help reduce noise. It also comes with an upgraded security alarm to a Level 1 Thatcham Alarm system that has reinforced shielded door locks. Speaking of doors – Ford has also reduced the initial lift force of the tailgate. So no more tailgate dropping off your hands.
We cannot wait to test drive the Ford GT when we get it for review… I mean the Ford Ranger!
Pricing on the models that were on test are R570,200 for the XLT and R678,200 for the Wildtrak.
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