JOHANNESBURG - One thing’s for certain, we won’t have to look very hard for our long-term Ford Ranger FX4 in any parking lot.
Ford calls it Racing Red and if you think Ferrari you’re spot on which is why when I registered it on the FordPass Connect App and it asked me for the car’s nickname it duly became the “Kalahari Ferrari”.
The app allows you to lock and unlock doors remotely, start the engine remotely to run 15 minutes before climb in, which had a friend’s young twins fascinated because I could stand upstairs and with a few magic words get it to run, find its location, find a dealer, check fluid levels, find parking and gives you direct access to Ford’s roadside assistance. And if you have a decent connection you can update vehicle software wirelessly.
It’s based on the XLT 2.0-litre single turbo with a couple of strategic add-ons that sets it apart from its sibling.
It seems black is all the rage when it comes to car “adaptations” so it comes with a black grille with integrated LED headlights and daytime running lights, black side mirrors, door handles and black 18-inch alloys. In the case of our long-termer the “Kalahari Ferrari” has black FX4 decals strategically placed on the bodywork.
The load bay sports a tubular sports bar, drop-in bedliner and a 12-volt socket to power a fridge, compressor or any other leisure equipment if you use the FX4 for what it’s intended for. I see Ford have also added two extra tie-down points which makes securing things in the back a lot easier and more practical than just four, placed front and back.
When I climbed in behind the steering wheel the interior says anything but bakkie and for me the star of the show is the soft-touch leather-trimmed dashboard with red stitching. It’s carried through to the steering wheel, manually adjusted front seats and gear lever cover.
Sync3 comes standard with an eight-inch touchscreen that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible.
Ford has a wide range of engine variants bolted into their Ranger range; a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, 3.2-litre turbo-diesel, 2.0-litre single turbo-diesel and a 2.0-litre twin turbo-diesel.
The FX4 is fitted with the 2.0-litre single turbo variant and I believe it’s Ford’s sweet spot in the range. It delivers 132kW and 420Nm via Ford’s by now familiar 10-speed automatic transmission that also offers a sport setting and manual shifts.
Once you press the start button the familiar sound of the engine quickly settles down to a quiet idle before you tackle traffic and the open road. Having stepped out of an Audi Q7, I found the suspension on the firm side initially but remembering that it's a double-cab mounted on a ladder frame chassis you quickly become used to it and appreciate the ride quality especially on potholed roads and bumpy dirt tracks.
I did the school run for a week and was pleasantly surprised by the FX4’s fuel consumption which stood at 8.7l/100km when I stopped to refuel. The route is a good combination of highway and urban driving and I found little turbo-lag on take-off in traffic and with the cruise control on gobbled up the tar comfortably with very little road noise intruding your drive.
It’s a proper 4x4 too with 4H which can be changed on the fly, low range and a rear differential lock.
I haven’t yet taken it on a proper off-road trail but will be doing so soon although personally I would have preferred a more off-road bias all-terrain tyre with less risk to punctures and sidewall damage.
Let’s see how it goes and we’ll keep you updated in Drive 360 and IOL Motoring.