Ford will soon try and harvest some of the Toyota Hilux’s market share, with a new Thunder edition bakkie.
The American brand’s T6 platform Ranger has been a huge global success, especially in South Africa, where it accounts for the bulk of Ford’s local business. With the Ranger model range maturing, Ford’s marketing staff commissioned a new Thunder version, to ensure undiluted demand for the brand’s premium double-cab variants.
Where does the Thunder fit into Ford’s Ranger product portfolio? Those who are deeply familiar with the Ford bakkie offering, will know that Wildtrak is traditionally the Ranger’s most expensive and best equipped option – other than the limited-edition Raptor.
Although Ford is yet to confirm local pricing for the Thunder, it could become the lead offering for South African Ranger customers.
Grey – but definitely not boring
What distinguishes a Thunder edition double-cab from other Rangers? The Sea Grey paint finish is a start, as are those red inserts, which frame a redesigned grille.
Ford has also added red detailing to the bakkie’s sports bar, while black finishing adorns the rear bumper, fog light bezels and door handles. Ranger Thunder’s rear lights are also darkened, to better match with its dominant Sea Grey bodywork colour. The Ranger Thunder also rolls a unique design 18-inch alloy wheelset.
Ford’s product planners have been a touch more restrained with the Thunder edition’s cabin design, with the only true distinguishing feature being red stitching on the steering wheel, seat upholstery panel seams and instrument binnacle shading.
Small but potent engine
Powering the Ranger Thunder edition is Ford’s sophisticated two-litre bi-turbodiesel engine, which also does duty in Raptor. It is locally assembled, at Ford’s engine facility in Port Elizabeth, and rated at 157kW and 500Nm, delivering adequate performance and tracing relatively low levels of noise and vibration, for a diesel bakkie engine.
A 10-speed automatic transmission ensures that the Ranger Thunder has more gears at its disposal than any other local bakkie rival. This means on-demand acceleration when you need it – and fantastic cruising fuel consumption of 9.1 litre/100km, which is very fair for a vehicle of its size.
South Africa is a global production hub for Ranger. Bakkies built in Ford’s Silverton production facility, are exported to a wide variety of countries. This means that all new editions of the Ranger, such as this Thunder, can also be made available to local customers.
Ford South Africa is expected to announce the exact pricing and specification level of its Ranger Thunder variants, within the next month.