TESTING FORD’S TRIBUTE TO THE FIRE XTINGUISHER. AND OTHER DEVICES.

FX4


FX4 continues Ford’s cool special edition-a-month old Ranger run-out party

Looks like Ford got a special deal on fire extinguisher paint. FX4 even celebrates the device’s name — Fire eXtinguisher Four. So even if you’re not a fireman, if you like it bright, our Race Red Ford Ranger 2.0SiT double cab 4×4 XLT FX4 road test unit is probably the bakkie for you. And never fear if you don’t like it red. There’s Sea Grey to toast your kettle and Frozen White for the fridge, Agate Black for the stove. And Moondust Silver. Just in case!

SPECIAL EDITION OR WAIT FOR NEW?

Anyway, we all know that the new Ford Ranger is just a matter of months away, so feel free to click here to learn all about that. But rest assured, this R712K special edition is not to be scoffed at. Sure, it will soon be last season. But if you want something just as different without jumping into the new model deep end, FX4 is Ford’s latest exclusive Ranger. Among a seemingly ever growing list of unique options you can opt for right now. Or just wait for that new one.

Special editions clearly sell Rangers and the FX4 badge is already well proven — there was already one in 2017 — to celebrate the arrival of the then latest Ford SYNC3 infotainment pack. This one continues with the theme as it brings the Blue Oval’s latest FordPass Connect tech to market. Now also standard on all Ranger XL, XLS, XLT, Wildtrak and Raptor models, FordPass is basically a smartphone app you can download to remotely control almost everything in the car.

In other words, you can get your iPhone or Android device to lock or unlock the doors and start the engine to activate the climate control system. Check its fuel level and oil life, or find your bakkie if you lose it. Or if it’s hiding from you. You can even search for parking, take a phone tutorial about your Ranger and find the local Ford dealer. Call for roadside assistance book a service and even keep tabs on your vehicle’s service and warranty information from your phone.

FORDPASS ADDS TO RANGERS GADGET COUNT

That’s all in addition to that SYNC system the last FX4 introduced. It has now evolved to Gen 3 to include voice activation, an eight-inch touch-screen colour display, two USB ports and Bluetooth. Add Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirroring with access to Google Maps, Waze and other mobility apps. But wait, that’s not all — FX4 has its dash, multifunction steering wheel, gearknob and FX4 embossed seats all trimmed in red stitched soft-touch leather.

Step outside and FX4 apparently has ‘bespoke styling cues’. Really, Ford? That’s more like a lick of paint! Not that it looks bad at all, or similar to the regular XLT. The changes do look great. But styling cues are what we are expecting from the new Ranger. Yes — they nicked that grille from the Thunder and sprayed that, the mirrors and door handles and FX4’s neat inched-up 18” alloys black. And stuck stickers all over it. We hope there’s a delete option for that gaudy graffiti.

FX4’s bak also earns its stripes — topped by a neat long-armed tube sports bar and tailed by a neat and practical drop-in bedliner. Add six cargo tie points and a third practical 12-volt power socket over and above the pair in the front and rear of the cabin. And Ranger’s innovative Easy Lift tailgate has always been a plus.

ITS A GOOD OLD XLT 4×4 UNDER THE SKIN

For the rest, Ranger FX4 is basically a good old XLT 4×4 under the skin rather than the flagship biturbo. But does that matter? Nope. The 132 kW 420 Nm made in PE single snail 2-litre still offers performance on the sharp side of a diesel four-pot double cab knife. Better, in fact, than its discounted selling price suggests versus its biturbo kin.

Packing that bakkie’s 10-speed auto box with its wider spread of ratios and intelligent tech, FX4 is easy and willing on the road. Its pleasing in its throttle response and feel as the gearbox seamlessly engages the ideal cog for your current speed and pedal position. It pulls secretly and strongly in top gear, dropping a gear or two as the inclines increase, before shifting back up again. To suit declining road levels in effortless comfort, and economy.

Ranger XLT FX4 rides more like and SUV than a bakkie. Thanks its rear mounted anti-roll bar for improved roll control, softer front spring rates, lower tyre pressures and specific 4×4 damper rates. That makes for a smoother rough-road drive thanks to enhanced directional stability and a far better ride over rutted or corrugated surfaces. Especially when heavily laden and towing.

FX4 LOOKS THE PART. ESPECIALLY IN RED

At the end of the day however, no matter how cool this one is, one has to weigh up whether to wait to see how big a premium the all-new Ranger will command when it arrives very soon, or take one of these high value, highs spec FX4s, or any of the other specials now available on the Ranger range. That is for you to decide.

But we enjoyed our time with the latest Ranger FX4. It certainly looks the part. Especially in this red fireman get up. — Michele Lupini

Images & testing — Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED — Ford Ranger 2.0 double cab 4x4 XLT FX4
Engine: 132kW 420Nm 2-litre turbodiesel I4
Drive: 10-speed automatic 4x4
ROAD TESTED:
0-60 km/h:        4.18 sec
0-100 km/h:       10.08 sec
0-120 km/h        14.33 sec
0-160 km/h        31.03 sec
0-400m:           17.1 sec @ 128km/h
80-120km/h:       7.94 sec
120-160 km/h      13.35 sec
CLAIMED:
VMax:             180km/h
Fuel:             9.01/100km
CO2:              199g/km
Service/Warranty: 4y 120K km/6y 90K km
LIST PRICE:       R712K
RATED:            7
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