Ranger rewrites rulebook in trend-setting technologies

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Ford is raising the bar further in the ultra-competitive light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment with the launch and test-drive of the New Ranger for 2019 in George, South Africa.  The historic event which had BusinessDay motoring editor in attendance also attracted 18 other motoring journalists from the Sub-Sahara Africa and South Africa.

Featuring an extensive range of mechanical, technological, feature and comfort upgrades, the new line-up will make the Ranger an even more compelling choice amongst workhorse and leisure-oriented pick-up customers.

For every new model under its portfolio that is launched,  Coscharis Motors, franchisees of the Ford brand in the country in line with its policy collaborates with Ford Motors to sponsor selected motoring  reporters for media test drives of latest models in markets where it has its partners across the globe.

This year,  Ford Motors Company  South Africa, invited journalists from Kenya,  Mozambique, Tanzania,  Botswana,  Malawi,  Zambia,  Senegal,  Ghana, Ivory Coast,  Madagascar and Zimbabwe including South African automotive journalists to come and hand a personal driving feel of the Pick up vehicle that comes in many derivatives.

According to Doreen Mashinini, general manager in charge of marketing at Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region, “The current Ranger has been a fantastic success story for Ford in Sub-Saharan Africa, and is the leading LCV export to markets in Europe, the Middle East and the rest of Africa,” says.

“The New Ranger introduces fresh exterior and interior design cues that build on its ‘tough truck’ image, complemented by the adoption of new technologies that further bolster the Ranger’s established reputation for supreme safety, convenience and comfort,” she adds.

The model line-up has been revised for New Ranger, with the new XLS series slotting in above the entry-level Base and XL versions. The XLS offers superb value for money along with an impressive list of standard features. The Ranger Limited makes way for an enhanced XLT specification in SSA, and the range is topped off as usual with the exclusive and luxuriously appointed Ranger Wildtrak.

Built tough with very captivating  modern design and continuing on the Ranger’s proven ‘Built Ford Tough’ heritage, the assertive styling of the 2019 model delivers an even more powerful presence on the road. The latest model offers the opportunity to provide greater differentiation in the series. Accordingly, the front-end design of the popular XLT series has been updated to have a more horizontal feel, with the centre grille bar now divided into two, giving it a more precise and well-crafted look.

The lower bumper also presents a sense of solidity and strength through the centre beam that runs into the outer fog lamp areas. With a wider lower grille the new bumper complements and harmonises well with new front end. The same design execution has been applied to XL and XLS variants.

The very popular Wildtrak, which now comes with HID headlamps and LED daytime running lights, has been intentionally kept more familiar with the vertical aspect ratio grille that also incorporates the ‘nostrils’ in its design. Along with a split centre bar and additional venting holes for cooling, the new design is more aggressive in its application but remains true to the Wildtrak DNA.

The Wildtrak lower bumper surface is more chiselled than before, again reinforcing its ‘tough truck’ image with a wider lower grille and silver accented skid plate. The larger, more aggressive fog lamp bezels are pushed further outboard, again accentuating width and incorporating LED fog lamps that give a greater level of distinction for the Wildtrak.

A striking new Saber Orange exterior colour makes its debut on the Wildtrak, matched to a unique dark, titanium-effect finish for the trapezoidal grille and distinctive outboard air intakes. The same titanium-effect accent colour extends to the side mirrors, door handles, side air vents and load-bed rails for a bold and sporty appearance.

The comfortable and car-like interior is now delivered with an Ebony Black environment, and the painted surfaces are given greater shine and depth­­. The Wildtrak’s updated interior delivers a more upscale, sporting appeal featuring dark-satin chrome elements, a gloss-finish decorative spear and upscale partial-leather seats embossed with Wildtrak graphics. The seats have also been redesigned to be both sportier and more luxurious, incorporating additional leather content, ‘Mettle’ carbon-like weave accents and ‘Saber Orange’ stitching.

The powerful, tried and trusted five-cylinder 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi engine continues to lead the range, delivering impressive performance and outstanding load-lugging abilities with a peak power of 147kW matched to 470Nm of torque.

Its reliable and efficient 2.2-litre TDCi engine remains a key part of the New Ranger line-up across the single cab, supercab and double cab models. It continues in the two existing levels: 88kW/285Nm with a five-speed manual gearbox for the base-spec models, and 118kW/385Nm for the more upmarket versions, available with a choice of six-speed manual and automatic transmissions on selected derivatives

The dependable 2.5-litre four-cylinder Duratec petrol engine is also available in selected models, providing 122kW of power and 225Nm of torque, combined with a five-speed manual gearbox.

As evident in its improved ride refinement and comfort during the intensive all-day test drive in the city of George, South Africa, the Ranger is already highly regarded for its impressive ride and handling characteristics, the 2019 model range has benefitted from further improvements that result in significantly improved ride quality more akin to that of a sport utility vehicle (SUV) than a pick-up.

 A key change has been the relocation of the front stabiliser, or anti-roll bar, from the tight confines in front of the fully independent suspension to a new position behind the axle. This new set-up optimises the design and performance of the stabiliser bar, resulting in improved roll control – which, in turn, enables a decrease in front spring rates, thereby giving the Ranger better ride performance and comfort.

Compared to the outgoing Ranger line-up which used a single front damper setting across the range, four damper rates have been developed for the New Ranger. These settings have been tuned according to the front kerb weights of the individual models based on the body style, engine and drivetrain (manual vs automatic, 4×2 vs 4×4). At the same time, the standard tyre pressure has been reduced from 240 to 210 kPa.

Combined, these refinements provide a plusher ride over rough surfaces by better isolating the occupants from the road inputs. They also improve vehicle handling over corrugated surfaces, give better steering precision and control, and benefit the vehicle posture and ride performance when laden. The exceptional towing capacity of up to 3,500kg remains unchanged, as do the impressive load capacity of up to 1 199kg (on selected SuperCab models), the 800mm water wading depth and 230mm ground clearance.

Apart from the leading-edge technology and safety, the new Ranger continues to rewrite the rulebook by introducing trend-setting technologies to the pick-up segment, and the New Ranger is no exception.

The innovative Semi-Automatic Parallel Park Assist (SAPPA) currently available on Ford’s Everest SUV is now standard on the Ranger Wildtrak.

The system uses ultrasonic sensors on the front and rear bumpers that search for and identify parking spaces that are big enough to parallel park the vehicle. A combination of the Ranger’s electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) and sensors are used to steer the vehicle safely and perfectly into place, while the driver simply operates the gears, accelerator and brake.

 

MIKE OCHONMA