Remember the P100? Ford’s early pick up truck made out of a mad scientist’s lab using something like the rear suspension of a Transit, coupled with first the front of a MK V Cortina and them the front half of a Sierra with a tub thrown on the back. It was nippy, the lack of weight made if fun when unladen, that was until it rained, or you went round a corner, then it became more tail happy than a 3.0 Capri. For the youth out there, the Capri was Ford’s sports coupe and a great and much missed car. Handled like a car from GTA in the wet though!
Anyway, whilst an interesting mix of domestic and commercial vehicles, the P100 wasn’t really a great work truck. Leave one in the rain and it’ll turn to rust quicker than you can blink.
Ford, in the UK at least, departed from the pick up scene for a number of years, being out-built at the time by mostly Toyota and Peugeot.
Then in the 1990s they introduced the UK the the Ranger. No, not the one the US market had but still, it was a vast improvement on the P100. This was a proper truck. I wasn’t a huge fan of the styling but styling wasn’t the prime concern for a commercial vehicle. Well, it wasn’t then……..
Now. Now styling is very important and when Ford launched the new Ranger a few years ago, I was at the front of the queue to compliment its styling. When the Ranger was first introduced over here, pick-ups were primarily the vehicle of choice for builders, farmers and heavy commercial users. The first Rangers, whilst they receive full marks for trying, their styling was just a bit bland and didn’t compete with L200s and Hi-Luxs. This didn’t matter when pick-ups were purely purchased on their ability to carry and tow stuff, but these days you’re just as likely to see a double cab pick up doing the school run or in Sainsbury’s as you are to see it in a field or on a building site. A combination of company car tax rules and interior improvements by all the manufacturers has meant that many a company car driver are trading in the Mondeo and the Vectra for a Ranger or a Navera. Or a Hi Lux or a D-Max (more on that one soon). So styling pays a big part in a choice.
Obviously next comes the interior, if it was still agricultural then it wouldn’t appeal to a company car crowd or even those that, like me, have considered a double cab pick-up as a daily family driver whilst being a useful work truck. The current Ranger has definitely ticked that box. It’s a comfortable as any car to sit in, the driving position is good as with any pick-up and the seats plush in leather trim. Even the back seats have enough room for an almost 6ft writer and any lanky teenager you’ll likely to need to load up.
So let’s drive this beast! Starting up the lovely 3.2 TDCi engine and engaging the 6 speed auto box into ‘D’ the truck pulls off like any modern auto car, not lag, no delay and power on the button. Putting out a reasonable 200PS the engine also chucks out an impressive 470NM of torque which is more than enough. On the off-road course round the Milbrook Proving Ground, I was able to put it through its paces and whilst unladen, it pulls away on any incline you throw at it with minimal slip whilst in the 4L position. Shifting on the fly, you can seamlessly move between 2wd and 4wd in the high box, just ideal for when you enter an area requiring a little more traction. The 6 speed auto box doesn’t miss a beat and never hesitates across the rough stuff.
On the road, where most of these spend a majority of their time, it handles like a car……….almost. Obviously it doesn’t have quite the ride quality of a modern car but considering it’s primarily built as a work vehicle, it drives easily, the auto box is plenty responsive enough and it’s comfortable to drive all day without getting out like you need three hours with a chiropractor.
So, the bottom line of this Flash Drive? I’d buy one. I want to borrow one for longer than a couple of hours to do a decent review and make some videos of. Watch this space!