Mossel Bay / George - Has Ford found the answer to overtake the Toyota's Hilux in bakkie sales? With the arrival of its new Ranger 2.2, equipped with an automatic transmission, the automaker believes it could have the edge in the fiercely-contested SA bakkie market.
The automaker is offering what it claims is the first 2.2 auto single cab bakkie in its segment, expanding Ford's Ranger line-up to a whopping 36 derivatives, including nine new 2.2 auto variants.
Ford also announced it will be expanding its locally-built Everest range in November.
Ford SA claims the Ranger’s driving convenience, comfort and ease-of-use have become key selling points for the 3.2 TDCi Auto. From August 2016, customers, says Ford, can have these characteristics in its 2.2 TDCi derivatives.
The Ranger 2.2 TDCi is the only single-cab bakkie paired with an automatic gearbox in SA in its segment.
Ford says the reason they’ve brought in this model derivative is because customers were looking for a “dependable and economical workhorse combined with the convenience of the automatic transmission” in a lower-specced bakkie.
The 2.2 TDCi auto is available in three body styles (Single Cab, Super Cab and Double Cab) and can be ordered in one of three specification levels (XL, mid-range XLS and high-spec XLT).
READ: More Ranger bakkies for SA - Ford adds 2.2 TDCi automatic
With the addition of the six-speed auto, the 2.2 variants offer smooth performance and lower maintenance costs for owners whether you want to overtake, transport a heavy load, towing or tackling off-road passes. It has an impressive towing capacity of up to 3500kg for heavy-duty hauling.
The latest-generation 2.2-litre four-cylinder Duratorq TDCi is capable of 118kW/385Nm. Of the new 2.2 TDCi autos, five are two-wheel drive and four are equipped with Ford’s intelligent four-wheel drive system (with Torque on Demand) that allows drivers to tackle even the most extreme conditions with confidence.
On the road
My driving partner and I hopped into a high-specced 2.2 auto XLT 4X2 model at the launch in George, and in typical motoring journo fashion, instead of navigating and focusing on the route, were distracted and had missed a turn-off on the route. It happened to be crucial turn, something we discovered the hard way. We only realised our mistake 30km later which translated to being 50km off the map.
The turn marked the beginning of a 100km stretch along gravel, and often rocky, terrain. This also reduced our speed to 60km/h at times. We were lagging terribly behind. It meant the vehicle we were in had to travel even further and work even harder, especially when most of the instructions had labels such as “no road signs” next to it.
Stopping for some pics of the new Ford Ranger 2.2 auto, while we were lost. Image: Janine Van der Post
Since our mileage was out, it meant two motoring scribes had to perform a task journalists can struggle with - mathematical calculations. Since the route was in the middle of nowhere between George and Mossel Bay, we were without cellphone signal for the duration of the trip.
To further compound the matter, we had missed yet another turn while looking for the next instruction which merely said “bare right” and then “turn right”. There was no “bare right” and hence we had proceeded to head 10km to higher ground before realising there was no right turn ahead, thus extending our dilemma by being even further off the beaten track.
Despite the confusion and stress on the route, the six-speed SelectShift automatic gearbox of the 2.2 Ranger delivered seamless torque to wheels despite the difficult terrain. Once we hit the tar road and had long stretches ahead of us, the vehicle made up time at a steady pace and could overtake without much effort when needed.
We were heading to Vleesbaai sand dunes just outside Mossel Bay to test the 2.2 auto’s capabilities on the soft sand. For the dune section we switched to a 4x4 version. Not a single vehicle became bogged down in the sand and overall the Ranger handles steep inclines/declines with ease.
The reason for its off-road prowess? Ford says this is due to the 4x4 drivetrain using an electronically controlled transfer case with shift-on-the-fly functionality controlled via a dial on the centre console. This allows 4x2 and 4x4 high-range modes to be engaged while on the move.
With 4L engaged, it gives low-range gearing, for exceptional torque and control for demanding off-road terrain such as the Vleesbaai dunes. A rear differential lock is also provided, ensuring additional traction.
The electronic stability program, standard on all but the entry-level versions, delivers a high level of active driving safety. The Ranger incorporates traction control, hill-launch assist, trailer sway control, adaptive load control, roll-over mitigation, as well as hill-descent control on the 4x4 models.
Another interesting fact is that the Ranger has 800mm water wading depth and 230mm of ground clearance, while all its vital components such as the alternator and electronic parts are placed higher in safer locations, and all connectors are sealed watertight.
Ford’s electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) improves all-round capability, with varying levels of assistance based on speed, steering wheel angle, cornering forces and acceleration. By eliminating the traditional engine-driven power steering pump, EPAS also results in a quieter vehicle and improves fuel efficiency by about 3%, claims the automaker.
*Please note the Wildtrak Ranger pictured above was present at the launch, and is only available in 4x2 and 4x4 3.2 TDCi Double Cab derivatives as part of the Ranger line-up.
Expanded model range
Two models are available in the 2.2 Single Cab versions comprising the 2.2 TDCi XL 4x2 and the higher specification XLS 4x4.
There are three Super Cab variants: 4x2 XL, along with XLS models in either 4x2 or 4x4 guises. The Super Cab is particularly popular with farmers, contractors as well as lifestyle-oriented buyers, says Ford, who are looking for the convenience extra space behind the front seats, as well as the convenience of the rear-opening doors.
The hallmark Double Cab 2.2 TDCi XL Double Cab Auto, is available in both 4x2 and 4x4 variants. The XLS 4x4 takes the features list up several notches, with the luxuriously appointed XLT Double Cab 4x2 rounding off the new Ranger 2.2 TDCi Auto line-up.
Tracey Delate, general marketing manager, Ford Motor Company Sub-Saharan Africa Region said: “The introduction of the advanced six-speed automatic transmission on the 2.2 Duratorq TDCi models will undoubtedly build on the Ranger’s legacy, broadening its appeal to an even wider audience.”
Ranger 2.2 Automatic Prices:
2.2 TDCi XL Single Cab 4x2 Auto - R311 900
2.2 TDCi XLS Single Cab 4x4 Auto - R426 900
2.2 TDCi XL Super Cab 4x2 Auto - R357 900
2.2 TDCi XLS Super Cab 4x2 Auto - R411 900
2.2 TDCi XLS Super Cab 4x4 Auto - R472 900
2.2 TDCi XL Double Cab 4x2 Auto - R384 900
2.2 TDCi XL Double Cab 4x4 Auto - R426 900
2.2 TDCi XLS Double Cab 4x4 Auto - R517 900
2.2 TDCi XLT Double Cab 4x2 Auto - R482 900
All models are sold with a four-year or 120 000km comprehensive warranty, five-year or 100 000km service plan (optional on Base models), three-year or unlimited km roadside assistance and five-year or unlimited corrosion warranty. Service intervals every 20 000km.