It’s hard to believe the current ford Ranger has been with us for eight years and was facelifted four years ago. With a new model waiting in the wings, GAVIN MYERS tests the locally developed Fx4 and finds that it is still as capable as ever.
Let’s get something out the way from the beginning – the Fx4 is a special-edition model that simply benefits from a few styling upgrades. If you’re looking for some additional ponies under the hood, you’ll have to wait for the 2019 Ranger Raptor, or look at the “Ford-approved” tuned Rangers such as the recently released Rousche Ranger.
Some bold, black decals are overlaid on the Frozen White, Moondust Silver (as pictured), Sea Grey or Panther Black colour options. Those on the bonnet, tailgate and lower door edges, together with the blackened 17-inch alloy wheels, are the immediate giveaway that what you’re looking at is an Fx4.
Observers with a keener eye will spot the black sports bar (which incorporates handy LED load-bay lights) fitted to the now plastic-lined load bay, as well as the gloss-black radiator grille, door and tailgate handles, door mirrors and roof rails.
All this comes together to make the Fx4 stand out from the crowd, but only ever so slightly given the slew of aftermarket “Raptor kits” on the market. The visual upgrades will definitely appeal to buyers that err on the side of conservative, but want something slightly more special.
Inside, the design remains the same as the standard, well-spec’d XLT model on which the Fx4 is based. This isn’t a bad thing, as Ford has made some pleasing spec upgrades anyway.
Now standard are front-mounted parking sensors that complement the existing Rear Park Assist with rear-view camera, as well as Ford’s superb Sync3 with navigation infotainment system. This eight-inch touch-screen system is among the most user-friendly available today; it’s responsive and features an intuitive, visually pleasing interface.
As it is based on the XLT 3.2 4×4, I did land up wishing that the Fx4 had received a slight powertrain upgrade … the five-cylinder unit is beginning to show its age in terms of refinement. However, low down torque remains its forte and, with 470 Nm on tap from 1 500 r/min, the Fx4 is eager off the line, while it pulls a load and cruises at highway speed with equal ease.
This is even the case with the six-speed auto, which, to my mind, seems to have far less slip than other Ranger autos I’ve sampled. During my week with the Fx4 (which included a long-distance trip away for the Easter weekend) my fuel consumption levelled out at 9,6 l/100 km – a bit shy of Ford’s claimed 8,9.
That weekend away reminded me, though, that the Ranger still offers one of the best rides in the bakkie business. Still underpinned by leaf-spring rear suspension, it soaks up bumps as impressively as ever and never feels unsettled. The cab offers enough space for four adults.
Opting for the Fx4 spec will set buyers back an additional R15 140 over the standard XLT 3.2 4×4 AT asking price of R610 300. For just R8 200 more, buyers could opt for the flashier Wildtrack model.
However, if you’re a Ford fan and want one of the current “blacked out” bakkies (such as the Isuzu KB X-Rider or Toyota Hilux Black), the Ranger Fx4 will not disappoint. As long as you’re willing to pay a premium…
The Fx4 is sold with Ford’s four-year/120 000 km warranty, five-year/100 000 km service plan, three-year/unlimited kilometre roadside assistance and five-year/unlimited kilometre corrosion warranty. Free 4×4 training is provided with the purchase of any Ranger 4×4 model.