American consumers are denied few things. Among those very few things, are some of the world’s most desirable bakkies. Hilux. Amarok. Ranger. X-Class. Vehicles that most South Africans could not imagine being without, are not sold in the world’s largest bakkie demand market.
That is all about to change, for the better, with news that Ford is reintroducing its T6 Ranger to the North American market. Symbolically, its debut is at this week’s Detroit auto show and mostly, Americans are wondering what to make of this new ‘compact truck.’
In a market where the F-150 is an undisputed king of sales, the Ranger would be like a Bantam in comparison. But it is not. Ranger has been the first bakkie in decades to rival Toyota’s dominant Hilux in markets such as South Africa and Australia, proving its credibility – and people have noticed.
Ford people, mostly. Recognising that the ‘compact truck’ class of bakkie had finally evolved to something which was part-SUV, part-workhorse, and a lot more manoeuvrable than F-150 within the growing sprawl of American urbanisation, the business case was clear: Ranger was to return home. Stateside.
Allegedly an Americanised version of the Ranger, the new bakkie will likely be exactly what South Africa receives with its own Ranger facelift in time. Styling changes are limited to a new grille and bumper, whilst the cabin will be completely familiar to current Ranger owners.
The most impressive details are contained within its drivetrain. Ford’s American Rangers will not feature any turbodiesel engines, substituting the renowned 2.2- and 3.2-litre turbodiesels with a 2.3-litre EcoBoost engine – similar to what powers Focus RS and Mustang globally. Obviously, the Ranger’s 2.3 EcoBoost won’t make Focus RS (257kW) or Mustang (233kW) power, but even if the detune is substantial, it could still deliver a petrol-powered Ranger with very close to 200kW.
Best of all is the transmission, which is a ten-speed automatic. Yes: ten-speeds. Whereas Amarok has been the standard fo all-round double—cab driveability with its 8-speed ZF, a ten-speed Ranger could deliver a flexibility of performance that’s even better. And, crucially for off-road work, that ten-speed auto connects to a low-range transfer case too, something the Amarok doesn’t have for hardcore 4x4ing.