The Citizen finally got a taste of the highly-anticipated new Ford Ranger this week, albeit in very small bites.
And, judging by the look and feel of the Blue Oval’s new bakkie, it is most definitely going to live up to all the hype when it is officially rolled out locally later this year. And, that spells trouble for fierce rivals the Toyota Hilux, the Isuzu D-Max and Nissan Navara.
The extensively upgraded Ford assembly plant in Silverton is gearing up for a switch in production from the current Ranger to the new one in the coming months.
In the meantime, a variety of next generation models have been built in South African specification for testing purposes. These are referred to as “tooling trial” units and pre-empts pre-production models.
The two models we got to experience on Thursday was the 2.0-litre bi-turbo Wildtrak 4×2 double cab and the 2.0-litre single turbo 4×2 double cab.
Not on an open road though and also not with a free pass, but rather limited to two disciplines at Gerotek Testing Facilities. The dynamic handling track and the high-speed oval.
And, those few minutes spent behind the steering at each discipline was enough to whet our appetite for the real McCoy. The significant upgrades to the suspension was already a highlight on these very early units.
Despite the bi-turbo in the new Ford Ranger being slightly down-tuned to 155kW/500Nm from its current outputs of 157kW/500Nm, it most certainly does not feel down on power.
In fact, it almost felt like it has slightly more urge than the current model. We suspect is that the new bi-turbo mill is better calibrated with the ten-speed automatic transmission than is currently the case.
The new single turbo, which is down to 125kW/405Nm from its current 132kW/420Nm, also impressed. Paired to six-speed manual transmission, a combination not offered on the current range, the XL double cab has a lot going for it.
Watch this space for any updates regarding local line-up, price and availability of the new Ford Ranger.
For more information, visit the manufacturer’s website.