Razzmatazz, a clutch of new model reveals, a thousand guests and insights into some fascinating tech headed our way: no, it wasn’t a motor show, but Ford’s first Go Further day on local soil. Held at the Sandton Convention Centre, this follows similar gala events in Sydney, Amsterdam and Barcelona. Attendees heard Ford’s plans for a big push into a new consolidated Dubai-based Middle East/Africa region – headlined by 25 new vehicles in the next two years. Who said the car business is stagnant? The company is already buoyed by impressive annual sales of about 200 000 here and expects the overall total to grow 40 per cent by the end of the decade to more than 5,5 million vehicles.
A lot of the hype at Go Further Sandton understandably surrounded the latest iteration of the archetypal Pony Car, the Mustang, due here next year. But there’s more to come.
Fusion: Packed with tech
The Fusion is pretty much a flag-bearer for Ford’s cutting-edge tech, from infotainment to driver aids. When it goes on sale in South Africa in early 2015, it will be the most advanced Ford ever seen here. It starts under the bonnet, with acclaimed EcoBoost petrol engines. Vehicle systems in addition to that include SYNC 2, Active Park Assist, Active City Stop, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System with Cross-Traffic Alert, Rear View Camera, and Lane-Keeping System. Also on board, for the first time, will be the award-winning rear inflatable seat belt safety system devised by Ford. This new safety system for rear-seat passengers distributes crash force evenly over a larger area to ease the pressure of the belt on one’s body.
Driven onstage to rapturous applause at Go Further, the iconic Mustang will go on sale in South Africa in 2015 in its first-ever right-hand-drive configuration. Like other Ford passenger cars, it will be available with an EcoBoost engine. However, before the blood drains completely from your face, let us hasten to add that you’ll be able to get it with its hallmark V8 powertrain as well.
An all-EcoBoost engine line-up features in the new Focus, due here next year. According to Ford, the world’s best-selling car will have plenty of new safety and driver-assist technologies, too. “In 2015 Focus will be updated to include the latest technologies we have on offer,” says Ford South Africa boss Jeff Nemeth.
Ranger XL-Plus: Let’s get tough
What Ford calls a mine-hardened version of the Ranger pickup is being built at Ford’s Silverton plant in Pretoria. Seen as the kind of vehicle ideally suited to mining and farming in particular (both here and Down Under), the XL-Plus comes on the back of a roughly R20 million investment.
It’s pitched at the entry-level workhorse category where ruggedness and specific safety standards are crucial. That’s a key factor for big mining interests committed to using only vehicles that have five-star ENCAP and ANCAP ratings. Naturally, regular Ranger XLT and Wildtrak derivatives comply with that.
The XL-Plus’s airbag array includes driver, passenger, curtain, and driver-side knee bags. Its optional bullbar has been designed to provide impact resistance without compromising existing safety systems – notably airbag deployment.
Modifications to the outside include a 3 500 kg towing rating, an optional heavy duty front bumper, extruded aluminium side steps, front mud flaps and a lockable fuel filler cap.
Upgraded circuitry features a Crew Chief mounting bracket and expanded wiring harness to accommodate more switches and circuits, plus a heavy-duty second battery. A vinyl floor covering and heavy-duty seat covers take the tough-guy image into the inside as well.
Ford Ranger XL-Plus: Just the facts
Engine: Duratorq 2,2-litre TDCi
Drivetrain: 4wd, electronic locking rear differential
Body: Two chassis cabs (single and double cab); double cab with loadbox
Price: From R319 900, including 5-year/90 000 km service plan and 3 years of roadside assistance
Find out what else is new on the block in PM’s September 2014 issue – on sale 18 August.