ROUSH RANGER

Util­ity; now with added ag­gres­sion

Driven - - Contents - Re­port by DEON VAN DER WALT | Im­ages © FORD PER­FOR­MANCE CEN­TRE

Fact: South Africans love bakkies — just look at the NAAMSA fig­ures on page 78 of this edi­tion. It is also a fact that our

bakkie-mad coun­try­men love to add vis­ual en­hance­ments, all in the name of added tough­ness. And, as far as the tough­ness fac­tor of the ROUSH Ranger (pro­nounced Rowsh) is con­cerned, it gets a check in that box.

The boffins of speed did not set­tle on of­fer­ing South Africans a sin­gle model of the bad-tem­pered Ranger. In­stead, Ranger own­ers can opt for any one of three up­grade packs that in­clude vis­ual and me­chan­i­cal en­hance­ments.

STAGE ONE

Stage one, also re­ferred to as RS1, pri­mar­ily of­fers driv­ers of new Ranger mod­els a dra­matic vis­ual up­grade. This in­cludes a body-kit with flared wheel arches, dual ex­hausts, and tail­gate de­tails with a ROUSHbranded front-bumper and grille treat­ment. Other mas­cu­line touches in­clude black 18” wheels, a Rap­tor-in­spired splash on the back and a ROUSH ban­ner on the wind­screen. The ba­sic RS1 treat­ment costs R135,000 and in­cludes fit­ment.

There are also a few es­sen­tial per­for­mance add-ons avail­able for the RS1. The first level in­cludes Unichip soft­ware with a hybrid

turbo, while the sec­ond level also of­fers these com­po­nents, but with an up­grade on the turbo and the ad­di­tion of an en­hanced in­ter­cooler.

STAGE TWO

The RS2 of­fers much of the same vis­ual en­hance­ments and comes with a rea­son­ably com­pre­hen­sive suite of per­for­mance in­creases. This in­cludes a per­for­mance in­ter­cooler, high-flow ex­haust sys­tem, five pre-mapped soft­ware set­tings, a turbo up­grade and a Ford Pro­tect 3-year/60,000 km driv­e­train war­ranty. The list of up­grades should add an es­ti­mated 16% more power to the en­gine with a to­tal of around 170 kW that is quoted off the fly­wheel.

You will have to fork out R185,000 for the RS2 up­grade, though, but it also comes stan­dard with a ROUSH han­dling pack that fea­tures both the Ped­ders TrakRider sus­pen­sion and Ped­ders brakes.

STAGE THREE

At the top of the per­for­mance lad­der, it is a case of ditto as most en­hance­ments are rea­son­ably sim­i­lar, but also con­sid­er­ably bet­ter in ev­ery way. For starters, the RS3 is es­ti­mated to squeeze around 30% more

power from the Ranger’s en­gine thanks to an up­grade to most of the per­for­mance parts found on the RS2.

The top-tier Ranger up­grade, which costs R245,000 also fea­tures a full ROUSHstyled leather in­te­rior, while the only cabin up­grades on both the RS1 and RS2 are ex­tended to em­broi­dered head­rests and new mats on the floor.

ROUSH + FORD = POWERSLIDE

From driv­ing the stage two and three ROUSH Rangers, it’s clear that it still feels ex­actly like a Ford, only bet­ter. The 3.2-litre en­gine still has that creamy diesel sound­track, but with an added ur­gency from the ac­cel­er­a­tor pedal in the RS2 and RS3 de­riv­a­tives. While it doesn’t feel that much speed­ier than the stan­dard bakkie, once climb­ing through the gears, it is the sharp throt­tle re­sponse off the line that gets an ap­prov­ing nod.

Its trump card, though, as lo­cal me­dia found out on Gerotek’s skid­pan, is the mas­sive im­prove­ment in han­dling that the com­bi­na­tion of the new tyres and the Ped­ders brakes and sus­pen­sion of­fers.

It is easy to for­get that you are driv­ing a

bakkie, es­pe­cially when switch­ing off the trac­tion con­trol. Nav­i­gat­ing (a con­ser­va­tive word for power slid­ing in this con­text) around the cones on the skid­pan, none of the cum­ber­some un­der­steer dur­ing over­steer han­dling quirks, usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with these heavy ve­hi­cles, are present.

In­stead, it is quite com­posed, even at side­ways an­gles, and will­ing to flick around the cones in a rea­son­ably un­dra­matic fash­ion. And when the need to stop arises, the brakes take care of that too, time af­ter time.

LAST WORD

While all the add-on mus­cle adds to the al­ready tough per­sona of the Ranger, that ex­te­rior har­di­ness is ar­guably also the most prom­i­nent sell­ing point of the ROUSH Ranger. In essence, all the up­grade packs are good value, es­pe­cially when you con­sider that it in­cludes all fit­ment costs and me­chan­i­cal up­grades that are cov­ered by Ford South Africa.

How­ever, it would be some­what dif­fi­cult to jus­tify spend­ing R245,000 on the RS3, and while the RS2 looks and feels like over­all bet­ter value-for-money, we would opt for the RS1 with a han­dling pack — if only that were pos­si­ble…

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