On a recent episode of QI, a show where Stephen Fry and four guests discuss various curious facts, the very existence of a fact was brought in question. Is a “fact” indeed a fact and can anything be considered as the absolute truth?
According the research, there is no such thing as a fact. As the planet’s scientists, accountants, philosophers and writers go about their business, they are constantly updating a metaphorical database of human knowledge. So much so that most of what you know today, will probably be considered untrue ten years from now.
Hundreds of years ago it was widely accepted that the world was flat. Other facts that have been disproven over the years include sunflowers following the sun, the average lifespan of a person in the dark ages, the idea of humans only having five senses, and, likely the most famous of them all, the fact that we only use 10% of our brain’s ability at any given moment.
One other fact that has been put to rest is Toyota’s undisputed leadership in the local sales charts. If you asked us two years ago whether we thought the Hilux would ever be trumped, the answer would have been no. The Toyota was and always will be the market leader – fact. We honestly never thought we’d see the day another car would surpass it, but Ford proved us all wrong.
The Ranger has outsold the Hilux for a few months, but that’s actually not the big news with regards to sales figures. The inclusion of so-called “workhorses” in the final sales figures reveals that the Ranger is the most popular bakkie in SA, but it’s victory in the passenger car market is even more impressive. In our buyer’s guide we only publish figures for double- and extended-cab models, as they’re the models most likely to be used as weekday runabouts and weekend warriors.
In June 2015 Ford sold 1728 double- and extended cabs, while Toyota sold 1370. The people have spoken and proclaimed the Ranger as their champion.
How did this happen? Well, the easy answer is that the Ranger is just that good. When Ford was busy designing it, it must have identified the most important attributes of any double-cab bakkies and at the vehicles that set those standards. It started with a clean slate and matched, or improved on every single one of those attributes.
Things are set to get even better for Ford, because the new Ranger has just been launched in SA. We say new, because facelift simply wouldn’t do it justice. It’s not all new from the ground up, but definitely enough of an upgrade to be considered new, rather than the subject of some minor cosmetic surgery.
We’ve seen it in the flesh multiple times now and it just works. Unlike so many other facelifts, the differences are immediately apparent. The new Ranger boasts a new muscular bonnet, trapezoidal grille and new headlamps.
“When you look at how our customers use their vehicles, it’s important that a Ranger looks and functions as a tough, dependable tool. We saw an opportunity to give the design extra tension, and to emphasize Built Ford Tough design elements like the outboard nostrils – all while maintaining the Ranger’s excellent aerodynamic characteristics.” said Dave Dewitt, exterior design manager, Ford Asia Pacific.
While the exterior is undoubtedly rugged, the interior is anything but. The centre console houses a new eight-inch touch-screen display and there’s an all-new dual TFT instrument cluster, which provides the driver with all the vital vehicle information at a glance.
To ensure maximum ease of use, the new Ranger comes with Sync 2, which is the latest version of Ford’s in-car connectivity system. It can be controlled via the touch-screen, which also has colour-coded corners for easy navigation, or by using voice commands. For extra convenience, the new Ranger features a 240-volt power socket that can be used to power a laptop computer.
There is also an array of driver assist technologies that help to make your drive more convenient.
From a safety point of view, the Ranger is in a class of one. To date, it’s the only double-cab bakkie to be awarded five stars by the folks at Euro NCAP and the new Ranger will only build on the previous-generation model’s impressive safety credentials.
The new safety tech includes a number of firsts in the bakkie segment, including lane keep alert and a system that will lightly escort you back in line when no action is taken.
There’s also adaptive cruise control, which uses radar sensors to maintain a preset speed and distance from the car in front, and these radars will also alert you when the distance between the vehicles becomes unsafe.
Other safety devices include park assist, tyre pressure monitoring, electronic stability control and a driver impairment monitor, which will warn you if it detects that you are becoming drowsy behind the wheel.
As if that’s not enough, Ford has also included Hill Launch Assist, to help you confidently start off from a slope, whether in forward or reverse; Hill Descent Control, which uses the traction control system to help you descend steep slopes at a constant speed; Adaptive Load Control, which adjusts the Electronic Stability Control system based on vehicle load; and Emergency Brake Assistance, which provides additional pressure to the brake system to increase braking force when you apply the brakes quickly in an emergency situation.
The four powertrains from the previous model have been carried over, but with a few minor improvements.
The 2,5-litre four-cylinder petrol soldiers on as is, with 122kW and 225Nm of torque. The 2,2-litre engine, offered in two states of tune, is claimed to offer more refinement and improved fuel efficiency. The high-efficiency 96kW model boasts a 22% improvement in fuel consumption, while the high-output engine’s figures have jumped to 118kW and 385Nm of torque.
The 3,2-litre five-cylinder Duratoq TDCi engine has the same 147kW and 470Nm power output as before, but Ford claims that fuel efficiency has been improved by 18%, thanks to smart updates like an updated exhaust gas recirculation system. Both six-speed automatic and six-speed manual transmissions are available.
Maximizing the efficiency of its engines, the new Ford Ranger is available with Automatic Start/Stop Technology, which saves fuel by shutting off the engine when the vehicle is idling, such as at a stop light, improving fuel economy by up to 3.5% On the move, an available longer final drive ratio boosts fuel economy at highway speeds.
Off-road enthusiasts will be happy to hear that the Ranger is still very much a proper 4×4. Thanks to a 28-degree approach angle and 25-degree departure angle, 230mm of ground clearance and a wading depth of 800mm, there’s very little that’ll stand in the way of this bakkie.
The 4×4 models also have an electronically controlled transfer case, which allows the driver to shift on the fly from 4×2 to 4×4 high. For low-speed torque or additional downhill braking, drivers can also engage low-range 4×4 gearing, while an electronic locking rear differential helps to improve traction in difficult conditions. These off-road strengths are matched by towing capability of up to 3,500 kg for all the boat owners out there.
The Wildtrak remains the flagship of the line-up and as such, features a number of unique exterior and interior extras.
The grille, side mirrors, door handles, side air vents, bed rails and tail lamps are finished in a darker metallic grey. The Wildtrak also comes with rectangular fog lamps and a set of model-specific 18-inch alloy wheels. Naturally, no Wildtrak would be complete without a few graphics on the bodywork and that unique orange colour, which has been tweaked slightly to help it stand out even more. The Wildtrak is also available in Cool White, Black Mica, Aluminum Metallic and Metropolitan Gray.
On the inside, orange is used extensively to create a sporty atmosphere.
It comes with its own unique seats – including an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat – with bold graphical elements and orange stitching that combine toughness, durability and sportiness.
“From a design standpoint, everything on the new Wildtrak is very tough, inspired by tools and machinery,” said Dewitt. “But the execution – the dark environment, the soft instrument panel top, the orange stitching punching through – is very modern and more like what you’d see in a top-end hot hatch. It’s tough, but it’s refined and sporty,” said Dave Dewitt, exterior design manager for the Ranger Wildtrak.
Refreshed model range
The new Ford Ranger is available in a wide range of models and specification levels, with the line-up comprising a total of 33 derivatives.
For the single cab 12 models are offered, spanning the Base 2.5 petrol Chassis Cab through to the 3.2 XLS 4×4 with manual transmission.
The Super Cab line-up has been expanded from five to of six variants, starting off with the 88kW 2.2 Duratorq TDCi 4×2 and topping out with the all-new 3.2 4×4 Automatic which is offered in high-level XLT guise for the first time.
A revised Double Cab range sees the addition of two new variants for a total of 15 models, featuring the new 118kW 2.2 Duratorq TDCi XL 4×4, as well as a luxury XLT-spec 2.2 TDCi 4×2 mated to the manual transmission. The 3.2 TDCi XLT is once again available in 4×2 and 4×4 versions, with the choice of manual and automatic transmissions.
The popular, eye-catching Wildtrak can be specified in 3.2 TDCi 4×2 manual or automatic, or the range-topping 4×4 Automatic.
All models are sold with a four-year/120 000km comprehensive warranty, five-year/100 000km service plan (excluding Base derivatives), three-year/unlimited km roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty.
Service intervals are every 20 000km on both petrol and diesel derivatives. All 4×4 vehicles sold include a free 4×4 training course.
The pricing for the new Ford Ranger is not yet available, but we are attending the local launch on Thursday and will update the web as soon as we have the information. Also check our Facebook page for regular updates during the launch.