After decades of absence the legendary Ford F Series is back and the new F250 does its heritage proud as words such as "mammoth", "massive" and "gigantic" comes to mind when looking at it.
Yes, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMSA) has indeed gone HUGE with the introduction of this helluva bakkie, oops truck...
This pickup, which is one of the biggest sellers in the US, gives new meaning to the "size matter" cliché as it dwarves every other vehicle on the road, even double cabs such as the Hilux, Ranger and KB.
Of course it is a big, big ego booster and a short guy such as myself feels like Goliath in the F250.
This is XXL vehicle has a presence like no other pickup available in South Africa and its width, height and length is about 2m x 2m x 6.2m. Huge indeed.
The exterior styling is also bold and in your face. There is nothing fancy about its design and it is a "what you see is what you get" vehicle - which of course comes back to the F250 being no ordinary sized pickup.
Furthermore with the F250, FMSA is also the only brand in South Africa to offer half-ton (Bantam), one ton (Ranger) and 1.5 ton (F250) pickup derivatives.
Because the F250's GVM exceeds 3500kg, its driver must have a Code 10 or C1 license with a Public Drivers Permit.
Big on space
Available in both 4x4 and 4x2 single cab derivatives and a 4x4 double cab, the three-model range features a powerful in-line six cylinder, 4.2-litre intercooled turbo diesel engine.
The 4x2 and 4x4 single cab models are the biggest single cabs on the market.
They also offer the largest towing capacity (2500 kg) and the most powerful turbo diesel engine in a single cab (maximum power is 132 kW while torque peaks at 500 Nm). They can accommodate three people quite comfortably.
According to Neale Hill, Ford Marketing Manager at the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa, in launching the F250, Ford is catering to both the rational and the emotional needs of customers.
"Identifying those needs and meeting them is critical to the success and future of Ford trucks," he notes.
Hill says that the F250 is ideal for anyone who wants a big, tough, strong truck but doesn't want to sacrifice passenger-car levels of comfort.
"On the one hand, it is a rugged truck. However it is also luxurious and comfortable. We believe that it will appeal to a broad spectrum of buyers, from private motorists to large specialised fleets."
With a service schedule that goes up to 15 years the F250 is also built to last. FMSA import the car from Brazil and according to Ford executives it has undergone testing in that country as well as in Australia.
The F250 is seriously heavy-duty as all three models have a GVM of 3992 kg, a GCM of 7492 kg and a towing mass of 3500 kg.
The payload throughout the range is 1 101 kg while the ground clearance is 205 mm. The load box is enormous - 2 464 mm long on the single cabs and 2053 mm long on the double cab. Its width - at 1 642 mm - is also impressive.
Tare weights on the F250three vehicles are 2 662 kg, 2 891 kg and 3 075 kg respectively. But the extra weight means less interference from external forces like cross-winds.
At 5 756 mm long and 2 031 mm wide, the 4x2 and 4x4 single cabs outstrip anything currently available, and take Samson-loads in their 24 64 by 1 642 mm load boxes. It features grey front bumpers and grilles, and sturdy rear styled step-bumpers.
The stronger and more luxurious 4x4 double cab, sized at 6 273 mm by 2 031 mm, sports a stout load box 2 053 mm long and 1642 mm wide. And it comes with extra features, including chromed radiator grille, and front and rear styled step bumpers and 16-inch alloy rims.
The cabs - both 4x2 and 4x4 - offer cloth seats and a seat-centre armrest with integrated storage bin. The front bench seats are designed with ample space for three passengers.
Inside the double cab a centre console with lid replaces the single cab's seat-centre storage bin and its rear seat bench easily sits three.
A six-disc CD changer and air conditioning is available in all three models while the double cab also get electric windows and central locking.
Big on power
In keeping with the big, butch image of the new F250, this truck is powered by a mighty powerplant, which delivers loads of power.
A 4.2-litre turbo-diesel powers all three F250 models. This six-cylinder, two-valves-per-cylinder, OHC, fuel-injected motor delivers 132 kW at 3 800 r/min and 500 Nm of torque at just 2 000 r/min.
Bore and stroke is 93 x 103 mm, while the compression ratio is 17.8:1. An intercooler is standard. The engine is matched to a five-speed manual transmission.
Discs up front and drums at the rear ensure that its braking performance is extremely good. They are complemented by rear-wheel ABS, for extra peace of mind. The steering is power assisted.
The 4x2 model has twin "I" beams with coil springs up front, while the 4x4 models are equipped with a mono beam with leaf springs.
The front shock absorbers are mounted inside the springs, allowing four-wheel-drive models to use these coil springs instead of the traditional torsion bars for improved suspension tuning.
The design also moves the shock absorber closer to the wheel, permitting more precise shock tuning.
All three models have leaf springs at the rear and all three models are equipped with a limited slip differential.
The two 4x4 models offer an Electronic Shift on the Fly (ESOF) 4x4 system with low range. The frame, constructed using the thickest gauge steel in any comparative truck, is extremely stiff, and this reduces shake and shudder on rough roads.
The single cab models feature a 144-litre fuel tank while the double cab has a 114 litre tank.
Of course one is immediately intimidated by the F250's size but once behind the wheel all insecurities about its dimensions vanish. Despite being that big the F250 is surprisingly not overwhelming.
It is amazing how at home one feels in this formidable vehicle and it is easy to place the F250 on the road and just get going.
Thanks to its great power and torque, maximum pulling power very low in the rev range.
Of course the F250 makes a great cruiser on the open road and normal sized cars appear minute. There is little doubt that it gives one great confidence.
The F250 offer quite a pleasant on road driving experience and the ride isn't brutal at all. It absorbs bumps and uneven surfaces extremely well while the ride is firm but comfortable ride. Furthermore it handles corners and lane changes better than expected too while body roll is kept to the minimum.
Taking the F250 off road is fun, however, it is not the flexible bundu basher you expect it to be. Its performance on off road conditions is mediocre and the truck is a bit top heavy considering its length and width.
Although the F250's less than perfect performance in more challenging off-road conditions, it still does the job.
The F250 is also not being marketed as a heavy 4x4 vehicle and it should really impress when towing heavy loads, hauling and of course as a tough workhorse.
The car is rugged and FMSA says it is a perfect recovery vehicle too and some companies have shown interest in converting the F250 into a firetruck.
The F250 will also make a great support vehicle and businesses in need of a heavy-duty truck should definitely take a look at the F250 too.
It is great to finally see a HUGE pickup such as the F250 back on South African roads. The F250 is impressive as it could drag or haul just about anything. Furthermore it handles well and offers comfort too. I think it is also safe to say that the F250 is argumentatively a super truck.
A lot of South Africans will be pleased to see this HUGE vehicle back on our roads.
F250 4.2 TDI 4x2 single cab: R319 950F250 4.2 TDI 4x4 single cab: R369 950F250 4.2 TDI 4x4 double cab: R414 950
Service intervals for the F250 have been set at 10 000 km intervals. The warranty is applicable for three years/100 000km and roadside assistance is provided free of charge for three years.