By Mthuthuzeli Mpiti*
My relationship and experience with Ford bakkies spans back to approximately 8 years ago when I started working in project management. My daily duties included traveling to construction sites and my workhorse was a Ford Ranger 3.0TDCI 4×4 SuperCab, which made my expedition to sites in Overberg and Boland an epic experience and good fun with its on and off-road terrain capabilities.
Ford South Africa approached me and asked if I’m keen on having their limited edition Ranger FX4 for 7 days and I gladly agreed without any second thoughts. What was delivered to me was a Shadow Black (previously known as Panther Black prior to November 2017) Ranger FX4. You can also have this special edition model in Sea Grey, Moon Dust Silver & Frozen White color schemes.
This special edition FX4 gets you black 17 inch mags, FX4 decals on the sides, black grille, black roof rails, side steps and tubular sports roll bars. It looks rugged, tough and sporty as. My test unit was a fully flagged 4×4 double cab with a 6 speed automatic gearbox. The Fx4 also comes in 2.2L manual disguise.
The Ford Ranger FX4 forms part of approximately 30 trims of the Ford Ranger portfolio and it sits just under the flagship in our market, the Ranger WildTrack. The Ford Raptor will come to our shores soon, the range topping bakkie and will be built in Ford’s plant in Silverton, Pretoria. Now back to FX4, you might have noticed I have mentioned FX4 many times, but what does that mean? Well the F pays homage to the F Series Pick Up offerings in USA and the x4 symbolizes the all 4 wheels set up. Similarly, to the F Series Pick Up, the FX-4 has some presence on the road and can be easily spotted from a distance as something more than just another big bakkie.
But how’s the interior? It’s a fully flagged leather seating set up, with semi-digital instrumentation as the dials are analog. The infotainment is an 8 inch Sync3 that is fully digital with full touch screen capabilities. The navigation comes standard, and the plug and play application connect that mirrors what’s on your phone and project it to the digital screen with voice command capabilities to make calls is also available.
You get 2 USB ports, double 12V power outlets, the rear view camera with a button where you can project the camera to focus on the tow bar for easy hooking the trailer, Park Distance Control with visual and audio warnings. Mirrors are powered and can be folded at a touch of a button which makes life easier. The sound system also impressed me, you can really jam to your favorite tunes in those long trips with the family and friends.
It’s a 4×4 bakkie, meaning you get the off road configuration, in 2H for normal terrain driving where only the rear wheels are powered, 4H where all 4 wheels are fed with power at high Range and lastly, the 4L for extreme off-road conditions in Low Range. In these units you also get the Hill descend Control that keeps the bakkie crawling in control down that very steep terrain without the driver having to interfere with the brakes, think of off-road Cruise control set up going downhill.
You might be wondering as to how it drives. Its electronic power assisted steering makes the steering so much of a bliss, light and responsive to such an extent that you forget you are driving a 4×4 bakkie, as it’s not hydraulic assisted but electronically controlled. However, turning circle does gets affected when you engage 4×4 on off-road conditions. The ride quality remains great in off-road conditions and I actually enjoyed going over speed bumps to feel the leaf springs and shock absorbers working hard.
My expedition included summit to Steenbras Dam on a rainy day just to see how this bakkie handles steep inclines and twisty roads. The bakkie did well. It was actually raining cats and dogs when this bakkie was delivered to me and I did not worry at all because I was in a possession of all road capable machine from the Wild West.
Next test was to see if this bakkie can really do leisure as it’s built for commercial and leisure use, so I then took the sea route of Baldwin Powell Drive and got closer to the Sea. This route took me past Muzinberg, Fishhoek and Navy Base Simmonstown. One thing that I can tell you is that the Ranger is a great companion and I enjoyed its company even though I am not a big fan of bakkies. This bakkie is fit for purpose and is built tough. At times, I got tired of bitumen tarmac and went for unpaved and dirt roads with mud and water puddles. At one point I found myself on the back roads of Stellenbosch Wine Routes, the voice within was asking, are you brave enough to conquer the roads and choose the roads less travelled? I answered by saying, bring it on, the Ranger and I are game!
Lastly, to the interesting part, the verdict. If you are in a market for new bakkie and you want the ready-made bakkie without worrying about aftermarket kits, the FX4 is what you need, so look no further.
The test unit I had is priced from R 626,300, and is ready to do adventure, leisure and go further.
*Mthuthuzeli describes himself as a motoring enthusiast with a particular affinity for products from Wolfsburg. You can also send us your own written or video review and we will gladly publish it. Your contribution will be subject to our editorial policy of course.
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