The new Ford Ranger Stormtrak could be the last of this generation, and it’s certainly a job well done.
/ By Peter John /
What do you do if you’re in Ford SA’s position? At the same time that the media invitation for the new Ranger Stormtrak surfaced in my inbox, all eyes were busy soaking in the first preview of the Next-Gen Ranger. Unfortunately, this timing slightly torpedoed the launch of the upcoming Ranger Stormtrak, with a new narrative quickly emerging.
How long until the Next-Gen (Ford’s words, not ours) Ranger arrives is a source of much debate. The fact that the teaser video showed it in heavily camouflaged garb suggests to me that it’s still a while away and this delay is forcing Ford to think on their feet and prevent demand from drying up.
The internet’s comments’ section might groan once more at the sight of another Ranger, but the undeniable truth is that limited-edition models are highly successful. The latest in Ranger’s arsenal is the Stormtrak, replacement to the Thunder, and Ford’s fifth special edition in a year! It’s clearly a working recipe because derivatives such as the Thunder eclipsed all expectations, selling more than 2000 – double the initial allocation. Can the Stormtrak repeat history?
Ford is in a comfortable groove with these special-edition models, and the Stormtrak still manages to stir up something unique from a list of upgrades that will sound painfully familiar to many. This is the new flagship and therefore builds upon the Wildtrak’s premium features and bi-turbo 157 kW engine with some highly effective red and black highlights, and red stitching to go with the new range of vibrant colours – Blue Lightning being our pick although Lucid Red also won a strong share of the votes among the crowd.
A lot of these superfluous enhancements don’t immediately make the Stormtrak a superior alternative to the R40 000 cheaper Wildtrak, except for the Power Roller Shutter and the bed divider, which are both standard features and mitigate that price gap to a tangible extent. The Power Roller Shutter can be opened and locked at any position, unlike the manual roller shutter which can only be locked at various preset stages, with dedicated buttons on the key fob and on the dashboard. While it might bring a modern edge to design, it is evidently not dust-proof and so I immediately overlooked the bed divider and ensured that for the next three days of the launch even all my luggage travelled on the back seat.
Fortunately this is the only gripe I had over many days spent traversing rough, unrelenting terrain that on a few occasions had me wishing someone would toss me the keys to a Ranger Raptor. Nevertheless, these Stormtraks handled every one of the 1 000 km of gravel in great comfort and with supreme confidence. I’ve always vouched for the Ranger’s on-road capabilities as the most passenger-car-like of any bakkie, and now I can add gravel to that list. A true all-rounder basking in the twilight glow of its legacy.
I’m usually cynical of special-edition models, but you have to take a minute to admire the calculated evolution that has led up to this point, as well as the many export milestones achieved in the last decade as an integral part of South Africa’s automotive tapestry. Despite its age, the Ranger remains an exceptionally competent and capable vehicle that still holds solid credibility against ostensibly fresher rivals. Nobody will be left disappointed if this is to be the final swansong; the foundation it has laid down for the Next-Generation Ranger is extremely solid.
The Ranger Stormtrak is priced at R790 300 for the 4×2 model, and R846 500 for the 4×4 variant.
Engine: 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo (diesel)
Power and torque: 157 kW; 500 Nm
All new Ford Rangers come with ‘Ford Protect’, made up of a 4-year/120 000 km comprehensive warranty, 3-year/unlimited km roadside assistance, 5-year/unlimited km corrosion warranty, and a 6-year/90 000 km service plan (which covers 6 services).