After years of waiting the next-generation Ford Ranger series is finally complete, comprising all manner of engines and body types that are sure to satiate even the most die-hard bakkie enthusiast.
Having first received the double cabs at the end of 2022, South Africa then got its hands on the range-topping Raptorand finally, we now have the single cab and super cab units to round out the catalogue.
Ford recently marked the launch of these latest additions with a three-day event where we had the opportunity to take the high-riders on an epic journey from Johannesburg all the way to Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape, trailing through the back roads of the Karoo and making stops along the day to deliver supplies to areas in need.
A sight to behold
The journey began at OR Tambo airport in Joburg, where we met up with other members of the media and were taken to the cars outside the parking area.
The reason the bakkies weren’t indoors was that several of them were fitted with large Jojo tanks in the back too big to clear the parking ceiling, and it was here that we found out that we’d be delivering them to a small community all the way in the Eastern Cape.
Having grabbed one of the tank-bearing 4x4s, we got off to a rather uneventful start dealing with Gauteng’s rush hour traffic, but patience eventually saw us clearing the southern outskirts of the small province and heading into the Free State.
From there we had a chance to appreciate the smooth ride and responsive performance of the new vehicles for a few hours along the N1 with a stop here and there, before reaching our destination for the evening – the Gariep Dam.
It was a stunning end to an enjoyable day, but the going would get a lot tougher from here on out.
Day two saw the convoy of 15 vehicles – 13 Rangers and two support Everests – venture off the main path and into the back roads of the Karoo where potholes and tarmac were in a battle for the market share of the road.
The Ranger’s light steering made it easy to avoid most pitfalls, and in the cases where we did hit a bump the suspension did a good job of mitigating the damage.
After reaching our midpoint destination of Queenstown, we set about the task of delivering the Jojo tanks to a rural community far from any main road.
This is where things started to get tough, as the rainy weather that had accompanied us for most of the day turned much of the dirt tracks into slippery, muddy rivers where we had to keep our wits about us.
On the opposite extreme, the rocky paths leading through the rolling hills of the Eastern province soon proved to be a real test as to whether the Ranger would be able to maintain the level of comfort it had back on the tar.
In short, the answer was yes, to a rather remarkable degree, as we would be spending far more time out in the middle of nowhere than initially intended.
That’s because the route we needed to take after delivering the Jojo tanks had deteriorated, and the sun was rapidly setting.
At one point a Ranger dug itself into the mud, and later on, a drive past a farm had the disastrous effect of a spare line of barbed wire catching itself on the axle of one of the vehicles.
These setbacks, combined with the mountain route where large sections of the path had fallen away, meant we only reached our destination at around midnight, though there were plenty of silver linings in the form of spectacular scenery with a handful of wild horses dotting the landscape.
The final day was thankfully a much easier affair, as it simply required us to drop off the remainder of our cargo – a number of trees and compost bags to be delivered to a school near Fort Beaufort as part of a conservation project Ford is involved with – before heading to the airport in Gqeberha.
Ford Ranger single and super cab launch
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