Spe­cial-edi­tion VR46 Ranger brings Mo­togp flair to the 4x4 ute mar­ket.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - WORDS MATT RAUDONIKIS

THERE’S noth­ing like a hot-sell­ing new model to draw the at­ten­tion of the af­ter­mar­ket in­dus­try, and why wouldn’t it? Strongselling mod­els are gen­er­ally pop­u­lar with en­thu­si­asts, and they’re the ones who will turn to the af­ter­mar­ket for hop-ups and mod­i­fi­ca­tions.

The strong growth in the 4x4 ute and SUV seg­ments has seen com­pa­nies nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with fast cars, rac­ing and styling turn their hands to off-road­ers for a slice of the very lu­cra­tive pie. Brand names such as Har­rop, Her­rod, Tick­ford and even HSV are all look­ing at souped-up SUVS and tick­led trucks – some of them al­ready have prod­ucts on the mar­ket.

One name you cer­tainly wouldn’t ex­pect to find as­so­ci­ated with a 4x4 ute is that of nine-time Mo­togp cham­pion Valentino Rossi, yet he’s the man be­hind the VR46 graph­ics that adorn this Ford Ranger. The VR46 Ranger was devel­oped in the UK with Ford rally spe­cial­ists MS-RT, which also does a Tran­sit van in both VR46 and road racer Guy Martin guise, as well as ver­sions not af­fil­i­ated with these mo­tor­cy­cle leg­ends.

More than just a dress-up pack, the Ranger in­cludes rally-tuned sus­pen­sion from Aus­tralian spe­cial­ists Ped­ders, metal un­der­body pro­tec­tion and Bfgoodrich KO2 all-ter­rain tyres. The use of Ped­ders sus­pen­sion prod­ucts


didn’t come by chance. MS-RT’S Malcolm Wil­son also heads up the fac­tory-backed Ford WRC team, with four-time world cham­pion Se­bastien Ogier pi­lot­ing their Ford Fi­esta. Ped­ders has a long af­fil­i­a­tion with rally sport both in Australia and glob­ally, and its sus­pen­sion prod­ucts are devel­oped to world-class stan­dards.

MS-RT has em­ployed Ped­ders’ 4x4 Tour­ing package, which uses foam cell shock ab­sorbers, Trakry­der coil springs and vari­able-load leaf springs to give the VR46 Ranger a 50mm lift in ride height. It’s a package that op­ti­mises both ride and han­dling over the fac­tory sus­pen­sion, and its per­for­mance is one of the high­lights of the VR46 package.

Ex­ter­nally, the VR46 is strik­ing; it turned heads wher­ever we took it on our day out. If the wild graph­ics don’t grab you, the body kit sure does. This starts with be­spoke front and rear bumpers, bulging wheel-arch flares, rally-style mud­flaps, and a unique grille. The rear bumper wraps around spe­cific dual ex­haust out­lets. The front bumper fea­tures LED day­time run­ning lamps and front park­ing sen­sors, and the grille houses LED light bars to com­ple­ment the roof-mounted light bar from Lazer. MS-RT worked closely with the team at Car­lex De­sign for the body­work.

Metal un­der­body pro­tec­tion ex­tends un­der the front end to pro­tect the en­gine sump, and there’s an­other metal plate guard­ing the fuel tank. The cargo tray in­cludes a full plas­tic liner, and the


tail­gate is fit­ted with a gas ram for easy op­er­a­tion. Those 265/65 BFG tyres are fit­ted to be­spoke 18-inch al­loy wheels.

The VR46 Ranger gets a sim­i­lar makeover in­side, with the seats trimmed in full Nappa leather fea­tur­ing quirky VR46 stitch­ing and lo­gos. The flat-bot­tomed steer­ing wheel is sim­i­larly at­tired and re­tains all the fac­tory switchgear for the cruise con­trol, dash dis­play and au­dio sys­tem. Be­ing based on the Xlt-spec Ranger, the spe­cial edi­tion is welle­quipped with all the top-spec fea­tures from the fac­tory.

The me­chan­i­cal package is all stan­dard, so you get the 470Nm 3.2-litre diesel en­gine, the choice of six-speed auto or man­ual trans­mis­sion, part-time four-wheel drive, and a stan­dard rear dif­fer­en­tial lock.

If you’re not a Valentino Rossi fan – or the VR46 graph­ics are a bit too much for you – the body kit and sus­pen­sion up­grades in the ba­sic MS-RT edi­tion Ranger are also sold by Au­tosource In­ter­na­tional in Australia.

Au­tosource In­ter­na­tional has the rights to the MS-RT ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing the VR46 Ranger here, and as­sem­bles them to lo­cally sourced Fords in Mel­bourne. The cars are all ADR com­pli­ant.


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