Jaco Van Der Merwe
There are two ways to look at the Stormtrak. You can either dismiss it as just another sticker upgrade from more conventional Ford Ranger models, or see it as a clever marketing ploy by the Blue Oval.
While Ford might reveal the highly anticipated next generation Ranger at the end of November, it might still take in the region of a year or even longer to roll it out in Mzansi.
That means the Ford Ranger will likely have to compete with its main rival the Toyota Hilux in its current guise until at least the end of 2022. And to keep it as relevant as can be in the relentless local bakkie warfare, appealing limited editions is the way to go. The more stickers it rolls off the Silverton Production Plant with, the less appealing those popular aftermarket decals will be.
In September 2020, some 18 months after the Ford Ranger was upgraded, the Blue Oval introduced the limited edition Thunder. Based on the line-up’s initial flagship derivative the Wildtrak, the Thunder featured bespoke styling to go with a lockable roller shutter and loadbox divider.
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Now the Stormtrak has taken the baton from the Thunder as the best appointed double cab below the range’s figurehead, the performance off-road orientated Raptor. And last month, The Citizen welcomed the newcomer in 4×4 guise clad in striking Blue Lightning to its long-term fleet.
The Stormtrak has not only matched the Thunder in terms of dashing styling, but also brought a brand-new pièce de résistance to the table. The power roller shutter.
Operating this electronic loadbox cover can be done by either pressing any one of three buttons located on the inside the loadbox, on the dashboard and on the key remote.
Unlike the manual roller shutter on the Thunder, which locks with a key and can only open to certain positions, the electric version can be securely locked in any position. And it features an anti-pinch protection to prevent injury or damage should it make contact with an object.
In addition, the tailgate is integrated into the vehicle’s central locking system, which means items on the back can be securely locked in. And speaking of the tailgate, the Stormtrak’s rear door features an incorporated torsion rod to reduce the initial lift force which is required to raise the door by as much as 70%.
The layout of the loadbox, which comes standard with a drop-in bedliner with a 12V power socket, can be adjusted through the bed divider. This is especially handy for anyone who has tried to get a few bags of groceries left in an open loadbox home safely.
The power roller shutter is the latest pound-for-pound exchange in the fierce battle between the Ford Ranger and the king of Mzansi’s bakkie castle, the Toyota Hilux.
Ever since Toyota introduced an electronic roller shutter on its updated top spec Legend last year, it has been the one area Ford was lagging behind in. Mind you, the Toyota Hilux is still ahead by a hair’s breadth on this front as the Legend features a light in its loadbox, something lacking on the Stormtrak.
What this windgat Ford Ranger does have plenty of though, is good looks. Similar to the Thunder, it features a black mesh grille with red inserts, a black insert low on the front bumper, black decals on the bonnet and doors, 3D Stormtrak logos on the doors and tailgate, black roof rails and 18-inch gloss black alloys.
The theme is continued inside the cabin with the red Stormtrak logo stitched onto the backrests of the leather front seats with the red stitching also featuring on the upper dashboard, steering wheel and gear lever.
Ford’s innovative FordPass functionality comes standard on the Stormtrak. Through a smartphone app, FordPass allows remote access to the bakkie’s features, while it can also be used to locate the vehicle and access emergency roadside services.
The Stormtrak’s powerplant is no stranger. The familiar 2.0-litre biturbo diesel engine, which was introduced to the Ford Ranger line-up in 2019, sends 157kW/500Nm to all four wheels. Like the Thunder, the Stormtrak is only available in 10-speed automatic transmission.
Priced at R846 500, the Ford Ranger Stormtrak 4×4 is anything but cheap. But on the other hand, its main rival in the Toyota Hilux stable is even more at R882 400.
We think the addition of the power roller shutter has most definitely helped move this Ford Ranger up a weigh division.
Over the course of the next six months, we will put the Stormtrak through a variety of tasks to report back with what it’s like to live with it on a daily basis. For starters, we look forward to the grocery bags not spilling their contents all over the loadbox.
Like all new Ford Rangers, the Stormtrak comes standard with a four year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty and six year/90 000 km service plan.
For more information on the Ford Ranger Stormtrak, click here.