A standard Ford Ranger XLT tarted up with cosmetic tinsel that may or may not cause your cheeks to flush red with desire. By Thomas Falkiner
Okay, so what are we looking at here — yet another special edition?
What you’re looking at here, friend, is the limited edition Ranger FX4. “Unleash the beast,” says the Ford website. However, on closer scrutiny you’ll discover that said beast is nothing but a standard Ford Ranger XLT tarted up with cosmetic tinsel that — depending on which side of the Boerewors Curtain you reside — may or may not cause your cheeks to flush red with desire.
Standout features include black alloys, black radiator grille plus lots of matte-black vinyl film liberally stuck to the bonnet and tailgate. You will find more of this go-faster plastic adhered to the bottom of the doors because, well, because this is what the target market — Boets and Bros — dig most. Personally, it’s way too OTT for my tastes. I’d much rather have the plain XLT model that’s not only cheaper and does the same thing but should also age with more dignity.
So there’s nothing that’s actually changed beneath the bonnet?
Nope. Though those cheesy FX4 stickers may read like a tattooed promise of extra urge, Ford has left both power and torque figures unchanged. But fear not as the standard 3.2-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel engine offers more than enough shove for most applications. It’s maybe a bit breathless near the top half of the rev range (especially compared to the 3.0 V6 TDI in the rival Amarok) but low down there is plenty of easy torque to pull you along.
Transmission wise you can pick between a six-speed manual or an automatic. There have been reports of the latter giving problems but the one in my test unit worked faultlessly and swapped cogs smoothly. Having said this I’d still get the manual if I were paying.
Ah, Falkiner, you’re so old school. What’s the interior like then?
Well this is where things get quite interesting. You see prior to the FX4 arriving at our offices, I had been driving around in Business Day’s long-term Amarok 3.0 V6 TDI. And I must say I found the Volkswagen far more comfortable. The seats were better sculpted to the human form, the driving position more tailored and the general fit and finish of the cabin superior.
The Ranger, in contrast, just feels way more utilitarian. Be this as it may, it does offer up a fair amount of kit. A Sync 3 touchscreen infotainment system, satellite navigation and reverse camera all come as standard. As do three 12-volt sockets and two USB ports, which is good news for people who carry a lot of gizmos and gadgets.
Fair enough. Does it drive well?
I guess it does — for a bakkie. The Ranger FX4 is a seriously hefty piece of machinery yet I found it pretty easy to hustle through the tight, traffic-infested city streets thanks to its incredibly light power-steering system and good all-round visibility. Due to its length (nearly 5.5m) this Ford is certainly not the easiest or most convenient thing to park – its rear end almost always sticking out of bays.
So do bear this in mind if you live inside a complex or have a small(ish) garage. Dynamically there’s not much happening here — again, it’s a bakkie — but ride comfort and refinement proved near SUV-like with only the choppiest of surfaces bringing to the fore the Ranger’s more rustic pickup roots.
Did you load it up with dirt bikes and take it off-road? I bet you a six-pack you didn’t!
Now, just in case you didn’t already know, the Ranger FX4 is a properly capable basher of rural bundu. Four-wheel drive. A low range transfer case. Hill descent control. Rollover mitigation. These are just some of the standout features that give it the guts to go almost anywhere. Of course all this aptitude was wasted on me because a) I didn’t have the time and b) I’ve long been spooked by off-roading thanks to a particularly harrowing misadventure along the Hennops Pride 4×4 course that nearly saw me kill a Suzuki Jimny. So then, erm, what’s your poison?
Fast Facts: 2018 Ford Ranger FX4
Engine Capacity / CC: 3196
No. of cylinders: 5
Power / kW: 147
0-100km/h / SECS: N/A
Max Speed / km/h: N/A
Price / R: 608 900
Fuel / l/100km: 12.4