FORD RANGER FX4 SPE­CIAL EDI­TION

FORD RANGER FX4 3.2 TDCI D/C 4×4 SPE­CIAL EDI­TION

Driven - - Contents - Re­port & Images by BERNIE HELL­BERG

A Raptor kit with a war­ranty

IN THE LO­CAL BAKKIE WARS, FORD’S RANGER AND THE TOY­OTA HILUX REG­U­LARLY EX­CHANGE SALES BLOWS TO CAP­TURE THE HEARTS, AND WAL­LETS, OF SA’S DIE-HARD TRUCK FANS. TRY­ING TO KEEP ‘EM ROLLING OFF THE SHOW­ROOM FLOORS, FORD RE­CENTLY IN­TRO­DUCED THE SPE­CIAL EDI­TION RANGER FX4 WITH SOME OF THE AC­CES­SORIES THAT CUS­TOMERS WOULD OTH­ER­WISE HAVE GONE TO THE AF­TER­MAR­KET TO FIND. BERNIE HELL­BERG TESTED IT IN THE UR­BAN JUN­GLE.

Like most lo­cal au­tomak­ers, Ford is feel­ing the pinch of a stag­nat­ing econ­omy and needs to con­tin­u­ally in­no­vate to stay ahead of the sales game. For the hugely pop­u­lar Ranger dou­ble cab bakkie, the in­no­va­tion has come in the form of an XLT 4x4-based spe­cial edi­tion called the FX4. Fans of Ford’s US pick-ups will be fa­mil­iar with this moniker, as it first ap­peared on Ford’s best-sell­ing F-150 as a spe­cial off-road op­tion pack­age.

SOLID FOUN­DA­TION

Ba­si­cally a cos­met­i­cally en­hanced 3.2-litre XLT 4x4 dou­ble cab, the Fx4 is avail­able in ei­ther six-speed man­ual or au­to­matic guise, with no added me­chan­i­cal im­prove­ments.

The Fx4 kit is a R15,000 op­tion added on top of the man­ual’s re­tail price of R586,900, or the auto’s R601,900.

For that money, the Fx4 gets a num­ber of black ex­te­rior fin­ishes, in­clud­ing for the front grille, fog lamp bezels, sidemir­ror caps, roof rails, door han­dles and the tail­gate han­dle.

Un­der that fancy dress is the same highly com­pe­tent bakkie that South Africans have grown to love. Its sturdy lad­der­frame chas­sis rides high on a rel­a­tively long 3,220 mm wheel­base. And with an over­all length of 5,426 mm and a width of 1,860 mm, the Ranger has an im­pos­ing size and stance tai­lor-made for hard work or ad­ven­ture.

The load bed is 1,549 mm long with 1,139 mm be­tween the wheel arches and is fin­ished with a fit­ted black liner and ex­te­rior Fx4 de­cals.

The Fx4 ob­vi­ously re­tains the XLT’s im­pres­sive off-road cre­den­tials that in­clude 237 mm of ground clear­ance, an ap­proach an­gle of 29 de­grees, de­par­ture an­gle of 21 de­grees, a 25-de­gree ram­pover an­gle and a class-bench­mark wad­ing depth of 800 mm.

Shod with a set of ‘Pan­ther Black’ 17” rims, the Fx4 car­ries the dark­ened theme through to the side steps, sports bar, and rear bumper. There are also satin black bon­net and tail­gate de­cal wraps.

COM­MAND­ING IN­TE­RIOR

The black high­lights ex­tend into the in­te­rior as well, along with car­pets and leather-ac­cented seats with em­bossed FX4 lo­gos. Be­ing XLT based, the FX4 also gets Ford’s lat­est SYNC3 com­mu­ni­ca­tion and en­ter­tain­ment in­ter­face con­trolled by a big 8” touch­screen that in­cludes satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, and ac­cess to Ap­ple Siri and Google Now, Spo­tify, Pan­dora and Google Maps through com­pat­i­ble de­vices and apps.

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the cabin is as quiet and com­fort­able as you’re likely go­ing to get on a truck of this size. Although road noise and wind noise aren’t in­tru­sive, you’re al­ways aware of the out­side en­vi­ron­ment, and the en­gine reg­u­larly re­minds you of its pres­ence too.

Stor­age op­tions avail­able within the FX4’s smart and func­tional cabin in­clude bot­tle hold­ers and stor­age pock­ets in the base of both front doors, an inset stor­age tray in the cen­tre dash-pad, a cen­tre con­sole with front stor­age cubby, two cup hold­ers, and a lid­ded stor­age box.

POWER & DRIVE

The ven­er­a­ble 3.2-litre in-line five­cylin­der tur­bod­iesel is one of the great bakkie engines of its time. It’s an ef­fort­less heavy-duty en­gine that de­liv­ers 147 kW at 3,000 r/min and a gen­er­ous 470 Nm of torque be­tween 1,750 and 2,500 r/min.

The six-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is also well suited to this role, with ra­tios and shift cal­i­bra­tions tai­lored to get the best per­for­mance from this en­gine. It also has a se­quen­tial man­ual-shift func­tion with the abil­ity to hold a cho­sen gear, which can be most handy in some sit­u­a­tions like tow­ing a size­able load through hilly coun­try.

LAST WORD

Over­all it is hard to fault the Ranger, while it is easy to see why 2,337 buy­ers de­cided to take one home dur­ing Septem­ber this year. Nu­mer­ous safety sys­tems are a nat­u­ral part of the Ranger XLT 4x4 ex­pe­ri­ence, as is an ex­cel­lent four-year/120,000 km war­ranty and the peace of mind that Ford main­tains a mas­sive dealer net­work across the coun­try.

If the ex­tra cash is no prob­lem, and you would have added an af­ter-mar­ket ‘Raptor kit’ to your Ranger any­way, then up­grad­ing to the fancy Fx4 is a no-brainer.

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