The 3.2-litre turbodiesel motor fitted to the Ford is a five-cylinder unit that’s also manufactured locally (as well as the 2.2-litre four-cylinder TDCi mill) at Ford’s Struandale engine plant in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. Boasting 147kW of power at 3 000rpm in the 3.2-litre motor, there’s a whopping 470Nm of torque available from as low down as 1 500rpm. Stump-pulling figures that are class leading right now.
The tried and tested Hilux four-cylinder 3.0-litre turbodiesel motor (2 982cc), meanwhile, is certainly lusty and powerful enough, but does fall short to the tune of 27kW in real power stakes — and to an awful lot of people that matters. The tale of the tape might continue to negate the Hilux’s appeal: with just 373Nm on offer it gives away 129Nm to the Ranger, and that’s a significant amount.
That’s not to say the powerplant in the Hilux is weedy — far from it, in fact — but rather other manufacturers have simply upped their game — especially Ford.
Surprises were always going to be of the pleasant kind when getting behind the wheel of the Ranger XLT. It’s big, yes, but a real pussycat to drive. Available in bothmanual and automatic guise, our two pedal test unit featured a ‘tiptronic-type’ gearbox that’s operated by simply flicking the gear lever over to the right.
Sure-footed, accomplished and devoid of any rattles or strange noises on the highway, it was much the same traversing rutted and corrugated dirt roads in the Boland where we spent an afternoon getting a feel for the shootout. The suspension may have seemed a little harsh on the rebound over a serious pothole, but most likely attributed to the really robust chassis setup its been blessed with – twice as stiff as the outgoing model, I’m told. A five-speed manual gearbox is fitted to the Hilux, alas the gear lever wiggling and jiggling over anything but the smoothest of roads.