How much fun can you have in a slow, diesel dual cab? As it turns out, a lot!

Motor (Australia) - - POWER. PERFORMANCE. PASSION. -

ARE WE WRONG TO IN­CLUDE SO-CALLED ‘PER­FOR­MANCE DUAL CAB UTES’ LIKE THE RANGER RAP­TOR IN MO­TOR?

THE SPEC­TRUM of pos­si­ble feel­ings when driv­ing a car is in­cred­i­bly broad. In some­thing like a Porsche 911 GT2 RS, with 515kW and rear-wheel drive, there’s a thrill bor­der­ing on terror ex­pe­ri­enc­ing full throt­tle no matter how many times you’ve done so. In a car like a Subaru BRZ, there is a dewy sat­is­fac­tion de­rived from the sub­lime steer­ing or dancy, on-the-limit han­dling. Fun, mean­while, is a cousin of, but not the same as, ex­cite­ment, and is in­ter­est­ing for not be­ing lim­ited to ve­hi­cles with lots of power or even amaz­ing han­dling – you can have a lot of fun in a gi­gan­tic long wheel­base Re­nault Trafic van in the right cir­cum­stances. Such ab­stract thoughts flit­ted through my mind and those of the MO­TOR team as we pon­dered test­ing the Ford Ranger Rap­tor and Holden Colorado SportsCat by HSV. Nev­er­mind the old HSV Club­sport which started life as a pas­sen­ger car, both th­ese rigs started off as proper tradie’s work­horses. Both weigh a bomb. Both are diesels. And both are not quick at all. Never mind a Toy­ota 86 or Mazda MX-5, th­ese two would very likely lose a drag race with a fat jog­ger at the lights if such an en­ter­tain­ing com­par­i­son pre­sented it­self. But they of­fer per­for­mance. And no, not wheel ar­tic­u­la­tion or trac­tion at crawl­ing speeds, or wad­ing depths, ap­proach or de­par­ture an­gles, but per­for­mance at high speeds, even if it just takes a bit longer to get there. In the Ranger Rap­tor, its FOX Rac­ing dampers let you drive ba­si­cally as fast as you want over the worst of dirt roads, en­joy­ing un­der­steer and over­steer in what is a large, lum­ber­ing car as it asks as much of your driv­ing abil­ity as any other ve­hi­cle in th­ese pages. Then there are the jumps. Com­pletely point­less, but ut­terly hi­lar­i­ous. The last time I jumped a car was my pad­dock basher when I was 16. In the Ranger Rap­tor, you charge at a mound of earth with the throt­tle pinned, the front end ab­sorbs the ini­tial im­pact with­out so much as a thud, be­fore you float silently through the air in what feels like slow mo­tion, land­ing sur­pris­ingly softly al­most en­tirely thanks to that tricky sus­pen­sion. Jump­ing the Rap­tor, I have not laughed as hard in a car since likely my old pad­dock basher. Now, don’t get us wrong, the Rap­tor would be a tyre-howl­ing fish-out-of-wa­ter on a bi­tu­men race­track; and there is lit­tle fun to be had on a twisty sealed road. But on dirt? Bring it. Some say the Rap­tor has the wrong en­gine, and a pri­mal part of my brain does agree. Of course if it had a petrol V8 it would be more fun and a lot faster – but then it would cost a lot more. And a dual-cab ute can only han­dle so much power be­fore it be­comes al­most dan­ger­ous – any­one who drove a TRD HiLux in the wet will at­test to that. Even if it was a rally-themed com­par­i­son test with side­ways and jump shots ga­lore, there will be those who dis­agree with our de­ci­sion to fea­ture the Ranger Rap­tor and HSV SportsCat in MO­TOR. But if they don’t have much power, and rel­ish be­ing driven hard and fast, how do they dif­fer in fun­da­men­tal driv­ing phi­los­o­phy to cars like a Subaru BRZ or Mazda MX-5? It’s just in this case, there’s the ex­tra catch of you prob­a­bly will pre­fer be­ing on dirt. Many would say dirt makes any car more fun no matter what it is. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this dual-cab ‘per­for­mance ute’ thing and whether it be­longs in your mag­a­zine. Send us a note – mo­[email protected]­dia.com.au.

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